Funded Research

Our funding interests are organized around the following four drivers of economic growth: macroeconomic policy, market structure, the labor market, and human capital. We consider proposals that investigate the consequences of economic inequality, as well as group dimensions of inequality; the causes of inequality to the extent that understanding these causal pathways will help us identify and understand key channels through which inequality may affect growth and stability; and the ways in which public policies affect the relationship between inequality and growth.

Explore the Grants We've Awarded

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Racial and ethnic inequality in consumption smoothing

Grant Year: 2020

Grant Amount: $75,000

Grant Type: academic

Forty-two percent of Americans report that they do not have savings that could be used to cover unexpected expenses, a staggeringly high number. And there are stark racial differences, with 38 percent of White households and 55 percent of Black households saying they don’t have money to cover an emergency expense—one manifestation of the Black-White wealth divide. Yet there is surprisingly little research on how typical month-to-month fluctuations in income affect consumption and even less evidence on how this consumption smoothing varies with wealth. Given how central consumption dynamics are for macroeconomics, it’s important to understand the sensitivity of consumption to income and how that might vary by race and wealth. This project uses exciting new data to explore how income shocks may be passed through to consumption. By linking deidentified administrative bank data with self-reported race information from voter registration records, the authors will be able to identify the response of consumption by race with a large enough dataset (the analysis sample consists of 1.8 million matched bank-voter records) to identify racial differences credibly. Understanding how well households can smooth consumption, and how and why some groups—such as Black and Hispanic households who have lower-than-average wealth—may face greater challenges in doing so, is central for developing policy to address economic inequality and ensure vulnerable households achieve economic security.

The impacts of welfare cuts on well-being during the Great Recession: Evidence from linked U.S. administrative and survey data

Grant Year: 2020

Grant Amount: $15,000

Grant Type: doctoral

This research project will examine the short- and long-run impacts of being suddenly removed from critical government programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Famiies program. The author will utilize the case of Indiana, which, in 2007, attempted to automate its welfare systems, resulting in a number of individuals being removed from essential welfare programs. The author will use linked administrative and survey data to first analyze the effects of the policy change on enrollment and demographics in the programs and then identify the short- and long-term impact of being removed from welfare on earnings, occupation, financial solvency, and health outcomes.

The redistributional consequences of multiple minimum wages

Grant Year: 2020

Grant Amount: $15,000

Grant Type: doctoral

This project will analyze how the labor market absorbs an increase in the minimum wage. Utilizing the case study of Costa Rica’s highly binding and relatively more comprehensive minimum wage policy that includes multiple wage floors based on workers’ skill levels, the author will use employer-employee microdata and administrative data to explain how minimum wages shape the earnings distribution and the labor market equilibrium.

The long-term evolution of inequality: Poverty, pollution, and human capital

Grant Year: 2020

Grant Amount: $61,000

Grant Type: academic

Environmental inequity is intertwined with income inequality in a variety of ways. Demand for housing, for example, is higher in cleaner areas than in polluted ones, and, at the same time, evidence is accumulating that the communities in which children grow up have long-lasting impacts on their economic and other social outcomes. Other research finds that pollution exposure in utero and in early childhood can have lifelong effects on economic outcomes, suggesting pollution may be one important characteristic of the communities in which children grow up. This project engages with these issues by investigating the relationships among race/ethnicity, income, pollution, and human capital in Pittsburgh from 1910 to 2010. The two main areas of research are sorting by race that leads to inequality in pollution exposure, and the effects of childhood exposure to pollution on adult income. Although limited to Pittsburgh, it is a strategic site. Once considered "Hell with a lid off" because of the intense pollution arising from the furnaces of the steel industry, exposure to pollution used to be extremely high in the early 20th century but has since declined dramatically, allowing for the comparison over time. To do this, the authors will take advantage of never-before-used historical data and link it to demographic characteristics of individuals with known residential locations to pollution exposure, jobs, and future outcomes. An anonymized version of these data will be made publicly available, creating a valuable resource for future research.

Recessions during young adulthood and U.S. racial income inequality

Grant Year: 2020

Grant Amount: $20,000

Grant Type: academic

This research promises to advance our understanding of employment scarring by empirically teasing out the racial differences in long-term consequences of deep U.S. economic downturns for those who are relatively young when a recession hits. Focusing on the 1980 recession, which was both deep and long, the author will use a triple-difference approach to examine the recession’s long-run effects by comparing the incomes in adulthood of teens (ages 14 to 17) and young adults (ages 18 to 22) (first difference), living in counties with a more-severe versus less-severe recessions (second difference), who are Black or Hispanic versus White (third difference). Using the differences in the severity of the recession across local areas as an identifying variation, the author will utilize individual-level data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth in 1979, along with county-level location data with special access from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 1980 recession is far enough in the past to allow a study of the outcomes of the sample when individuals are in their mid-30s to mid-40s years of age. This research is poised to provide insight into the long-run effects of recessions on Black and Hispanic youth who resided in regions where the recession was deepest, adding nuance to our understanding of the “scarring” effects of recessions on young workers by adding a racial component. Giving the current economic situation, it is clear why this research is relevant to current policy debates.

Where does new work come from?

Grant Year: 2020

Grant Amount: $76,000

Grant Type: academic

This project will construct a database of new work from 1900 to 2020 by compiling a list of job titles from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Alphabetical Index of Occupations. Previous research on “new work” measures the introduction of new job titles beginning in 1964 and documents that new work is performed by high-skilled workers and in cities. Preliminary work in this project indicates that at least some of these previously documented patterns may not have been true in the middle of the 20th century. The authors’ aim is: to chart the evolution of new work over 12 decades; to assess the potentially varying importance of new work in job creation and skill demands during different epochs in this period; and to test a set of economic hypotheses about where and when new work arises. The project has the potential to provide insight into why the locus of job creation, measured in terms of occupations, industries, skill demands, and wage levels has varied across decades, and the role of new technologies in the creation of new work. In addition to compiling job titles from U.S. Census data, the researchers will link the text of patents to new job titles to explore the impact of new technologies on jobs, and will link to the Consumer Expenditure Survey to measure demand shifts for the relatively recent period (from 1980 onward) to test the hypothesis that demand shifts may lead to new work.

Funded research

Human Capital and Wellbeing

How does economic inequality affect the development of human capital, and to what extent do aggregate trends in human capital explain inequality dynamics?

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Funded research

Macroeconomic Policy

What are the implications of inequality on the long-term stability of our economy and its growth potential?

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Funded research

Market Structure

Are markets becoming less competitive and, if so, why, and what are the larger implications?

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Funded research

The Labor Market

How does the labor market affect equitable growth? How does inequality in turn affect the labor market?

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