Remembrance: Scholar Devah Pager (1972–2018)

The Washington Center for Equitable Growth joins other friends and colleagues in mourning the loss of Harvard University sociologist Devah Pager, the recipient of a 2018 Equitable Growth grant, “The organizational bases of discrimination,” with Stanford University sociologist David Pedulla. Pager passed away on Friday, November 2 from cancer.

Pager’s research and its impact on policy discussions was a powerful example of why research matters and how well-formed policies based on evidence can make a difference. Pager’s research on labor market discrimination was pivotal to Equitable Growth’s understanding of how human capital development and deployment serves as a channel through which inequality affects economic growth and stability. The effective deployment of human capital in the labor market is a critical factor driving innovation and productivity, two key engines of economic growth. Pager’s pathbreaking work utilized cutting-edge methodologies to expose race-based hiring discrimination, an unjust practice that drags down individual outcomes and overall growth. Her research also showed that hiring discrimination is not an insurmountable problem—it can be addressed through thoughtful policies.

Equitable Growth is dedicated to furthering research and informing policy discussions, and we recognize the importance of community. Through the financial and professional support offered by our grant program, we seek to foster a community of academics to accelerate research and to strengthen the pipeline of scholars working in this space. We are proud we had the opportunity to support Pager, a scholar with an exemplary track record of rigorous research. Her reputation as a thoughtful collaborator and a tireless mentor only added to the value that she offered to our community.

The academic community has lost a skilled researcher, but in the many wonderful tributes to Pager that have been published elsewhere, it is clear that the community has also lost a dear friend, colleague, collaborator, and teacher. Our thoughts are with those who are grieving the loss of Devah Pager. Her example is an inspiration to all of us.


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