Equitable Growth announces 2018 class of grantees

The Washington Center for Equitable Growth announced today that it will award 24 grants this year, totaling close to $900,000, to economists and other social scientists conducting research on the channels through which economic inequality affects economic growth and stability. This robust body of research, now totaling more than $3.8 million in grant awards to more than 150 researchers over 5 years, is the foundation on which Equitable Growth advances a deeper understanding of the role that public policy plays in promoting strong, stable, and broad-based economic growth.

In its 2018 round of grantmaking, Equitable Growth will award 12 grants to university faculty and 12 grants to doctoral students at universities across the United States. Awards in this year’s grant cycle total $895,000, an increase of almost 16 percent from 2017 funding. There will also be an additional $39,000 in co-funding from the Russell Sage Foundation.

The categories of research in which the organization awards grants are human capital and the labor market, innovation, macroeconomics, and how institutions (including government, corporations, and other large organizations) affect inequality and growth. Equitable Growth is especially interested in research that uses government and other new or innovative data sources to shed light on important economic questions.

“Equitable Growth is excited to support another round of scholars who are deepening our understanding of how economic inequality affects overall economic well-being and how we can promote more equitable growth,” said Washington Center for Equitable Growth’s Executive Director and Chief Economist Heather Boushey. “Each research question is an opportunity to fill in another piece of the puzzle,” she added, “and after 5 years of grantmaking, a clearer picture is emerging of the channels through which economic inequality may affect economic growth and stability. With this growing body of research, scholars are advancing our understanding of how to create a stronger economy—one that works for Americans up and down the income ladder.”

Equitable Growth’s academic grants are open to researchers affiliated with a U.S. university, and its doctoral grants are open to graduate students currently enrolled in a U.S. doctoral program. Here is the 2018 Request for Proposals.

Download full descriptions of the 2018 grants and a profile of each grantee below.

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2018 Full grant descriptions


Human capital and the labor market

Seven academic grants and five doctoral grants will support research on how economic inequality affects the development of human capital and the smooth functioning of the labor market:


  • “Using IRS tax data to measure the long-term effects of California’s 2004 Paid Family Leave Act”

    Tanya Byker (Middlebury College) and Martha Bailey (University of Michigan) will use IRS tax records to study the effects of California’s 2004 paid family leave insurance on labor market and family formation outcomes for both men and women.

  • “Using linked Census data to examine occupation mobility in the United States”

    David B. Grusky (Stanford University), Jonathan Fisher (Stanford University),
    Matthew Snipp (Stanford University), and Timothy Smeeding (University of Wisconsin, Madison) will develop a new dataset to analyze occupational mobility and economic mobility, creating a more nuanced understanding of what opportunity looks like in the United States.

  • “The organizational bases of discrimination”

    David Pedulla (Stanford University) and Devah Pager (Harvard University) will use innovative field-based experimental methods to understand the dynamics of discrimination.

  • “Understanding men’s nonemployment using longitudinal data: Wage opportunities, employment dynamics, and long-term effects”

    Ann Huff Stevens (University of California, Davis) will utilize new approaches to data analysis to investigate the role of declining wages in the long-term fall in male employment rates.

  • “The long-run impact of Temporary Disability Insurance on SSDI claims, earnings stability, and labor force participation”

    Emily Wiemers (University of Massachusetts Boston), Randy Albelda (University of Massachusetts Boston), and Michael Carr (University of Massachusetts Boston) will use administrative data to explore the role of Temporary Disability Insurance policies in shaping long-term labor market outcomes, as well as the receipt of long-term Social Security Disability Insurance.

  • “Undirected migration”

    Danny Yagan (University of California, Berkeley) seeks to understand whether out-migration is a channel through which people respond to and solve for local economic shocks.

  • “Trends in earnings volatility using linked administrative data”

    James P. Ziliak (University of Kentucky) and Christopher R. Bollinger (University of Kentucky) will use survey-linked administrative data to develop a better understanding of earnings and earnings volatility, especially for those at the top and bottom of the distribution.


  • “Economic impacts of mentoring for disadvantaged youth: RCT evidence”

    Alex Bell (Ph.D. candidate, Harvard University) will investigate the role mentoring can play in economic mobility for disadvantaged youth, including impacts on college attendance, employment outcomes, incarceration, and reliance on government assistance.

  • “What works and what workers try: Social mobility paths beyond the bachelor’s degree and the impact of racialized inequality”

    Jasmine Hill (Ph.D. candidate, Stanford University) will explore how economic inequality shapes the perceptions and knowledge of opportunities and options among those in low-income communities of color in order to shed light on the mechanisms creating and prohibiting social mobility among “low-skilled” or noncollege-educated workers of color.

  • “Race, entrepreneurship, and urban revitalization”

    Candace Miller (Ph.D. candidate, University of Virginia) will combine an analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners with qualitative interviews and archival research to analyze how black-owned businesses’ growth, inclusion, and access to resources compares to that of white-owned businesses during periods of local redevelopment in Detroit.

  • “Parental resources and the career choices of young workers”

    Matthew Staiger (Ph.D. candidate, University of Maryland) will use U.S. administrative data to investigate how parental resources influence the career choices of young workers, with a specific focus on the impact of parental resources on entrepreneurship and job mobility.

  • “The effects of paid sick leave on workers’ earnings dynamics: Evidence from Seattle”

    Hilary Wething (Ph.D. candidate, University of Washington) will utilize administrative data from Washington state to study the impact of Seattle’s paid sick time ordinance on earnings, hours, employment levels, and earnings volatility of workers covered by the new law.


Two academic grants and three doctoral grants will support research on how economic inequality affects macroeconomic growth and stability:


  • “Income-specific consumption baskets and the interaction between inequality and monetary policy”

    Andrei Levchenko (University of Michigan) and Javier Cravino (University of Michigan) will investigate how differences in consumption baskets among households may affect the transmission of U.S. monetary policy.

  • “The macro-effects of unemployment insurance: A simulation-based discontinuity design approach”

    Andreas I. Mueller (Columbia Business School), Emi Nakamura (University of California, Berkeley), Jón Steinsson (University of California, Berkeley), and Miguel Acosta (Ph.D. candidate, Columbia University) will employ new methodology to explore the macroeconomic effects of previous unemployment insurance expansions to compare them to those triggered during the Great Recession.


  • “Posted wage rigidity”

    Jonathon Hazell (Ph.D. candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) will create new statistics to measure the rigidity of wages posted for new hires to understand employment dynamics during tight and slack labor markets.

  • “Wealth taxation and evasion: Quasi-experimental evidence from Colombia”

    Juliana Londoño-Vélez (Ph.D. candidate, University of California, Berkeley) will leverage administrative data from Colombia and information released in the Panama Papers to estimate the impact of wealth taxes on reported wealth and on the use of tax-evasion strategies.

  • “Do pass-through owners pass tax burdens through to their workers?”

    Max Risch (Ph.D. candidate, University of Michigan) will investigate whether and to what extent the compensation of employees of certain pass-through businesses changes in response to changes in the tax rates on the businesses owners.


One doctoral grant will support research on how economic inequality affects the quantity and quality of innovation, and whether technological innovations, in turn, impact inequality:

  • “Automation threat and wage bargaining”

    Antoine Arnoud (Ph.D. candidate, Yale University) proposes to study a novel mechanism through which automation in the labor market might have an impact on wages through the threat, rather than the actuality, of automation.


Three academic grants and three doctoral grants will support research on how levels and trends in economic inequality impact the quality of social, economic, and political institutions contributing to economic well-being and growth, including changes in market structure:


  • “Firm wage policies and inequality: Evidence using matched employer-employee data”

    Arindrajit Dube (University of Massachusetts Amherst) will investigate the source of differences in wages being paid to similar workers at different establishments, after accounting for individual differences, to quantify how sensitive wages are to local labor market conditions.

  • “The impact of antitrust on competition”

    Fiona Scott Morton (Yale University School of Management) will collect empirical metrics of antitrust enforcement outcomes to create a novel dataset, which she will use to analyze merger effects beyond prices such as employment, and to determine whether mergers in the high-tech sector are motivated by increased efficiencies or by the elimination of competitors.

  • “Tax evasion by the wealthy: Measurement and implications”

    Gabriel Zucman (University of California, Berkeley) and Daniel Reck (London School of Economics) will use administrative data and data leaked from financial and legal entities to improve estimates of tax evasion by the wealthy, which they will then use to construct revised estimates of income and wealth inequality in the United States.


  • “The labor market effects of minority political empowerment: Evidence from the Voting Rights Act”

    Abhay Aneja (J.D. and Ph.D. candidate, Stanford Law School and University of California, Berkeley) and Carlos Avenancio (Postdoctoral fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and assistant professor, Indiana University) will examine how African American enfranchisement through the Voting Rights Act affected a variety of economic outcomes for blacks in Southern states.

  • “Minimum wages and racial inequality”

    Claire Montialoux (Ph.D. candidate, CREST and visiting Ph.D. candidate, University of California, Berkeley) and Ellora Derenoncourt (Ph.D. candidate, Harvard University) will research how effective basic and universal labor standards are at reducing group inequality in order to increase our understanding of how a higher wage floor and universal federal labor standards can impact the racial and gender wage gaps.

  • “Consumer protection law and mortgage markets”

    Manisha Padi (Bigelow Fellow and Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Chicago Law School) will explore the role of consumer protection laws on U.S. mortgage market outcomes and consumer welfare.

The Washington Center for Equitable Growth is a nonprofit research and grantmaking organization dedicated to advancing evidence-backed ideas and policies that promote strong, stable, and broad-based economic growth. For more information, see www.equitablegrowth.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook @equitablegrowth.

July 25, 2018

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