Department of Labor Scholars Program

CEO is excited to support the DOL Scholars Program. Since 2012, an annual competition has awarded a cohort of academics with up to $50,000 each, to conduct independent research relevant to DOL policies and program. These projects culminate in a final report summarizing the design, analysis, and findings, as well as a public-use data file, if applicable.

2018-2019 DOL Scholars Program

The 2018-2019 DOL Scholars will conduct and complete research between September 2018 and August 2019. Projects focus on a range of labor-related topics such as: recessions in the U.S. local labor markets; registered apprenticeship programs in Ohio; independent contracting in California; and criminal justice contact and employment trajectories among young adults. Read more below on the work of this year's scholars.

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Brad Hershbein, Economist and Director of Information and Communication Services, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

Biography: Brad Hershbein is an economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, a labor studies research organization in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He also serves as the Institute's director of information and communications services. His fields of interest focus on labor economics, demography, and economics of education. Hershbein has investigated how new high school graduates fare in the labor market during and after a recession, how the availability of birth control allowed young women in the 1960s and 1970s to invest in their careers, and how employers use the selectivity of school and GPA to infer the productivity of new college graduates. More recently, he has worked on issues of higher education access and completion and how employers may permanently change the skills they demand from workers following recessions. His work has appeared in Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, and American Economic Review. He earned his BA in economics from Harvard College, and his PhD, also in economics, from the University of Michigan.

Study: Recessions and Local Labor Markets: New Evidence on the Evolution of Economic Activity

Recessions have received enormous attention from researchers, policymakers, and the public. Most of this attention focuses on short-run, nationwide measures like the unemployment rate and GDP. However, both economic theory and anecdotal accounts suggest that recessions have much more severe effects on certain local areas, and that these effects could be persistent. This project will provide new evidence on the short- and long-run effects of recessions on local economic activity. Drawing upon newly compiled public-use data from multiple sources, the study will examine how earnings, employment, government transfers, and population evolve across local areas (counties, metropolitan areas, and commuting zones) that were differentially affected by national recessions. The study will examine variation in recession severity with multiple measures, including the proportional decline in earnings per-capita as well as a shift-share employment instrument based on industrial mix. Using an event-study framework that allows for control of local area and time period fixed effects, as well as a host of other possible time-varying confounders, the project will study every National Bureau of Economic Research dated U.S. recession since 1973, examining both the pre-recession and post-recession evolution of economic activity through 2017. The study ties together earlier research on the long-term effects of labor demand shocks on local areas (but that did not focus specifically on recessions), the scarring effects from recessions on individual labor market outcomes, and the decreases in geographic and labor mobility that have accompanied jobless recoveries. The findings will have implications for targeting of employment services and training as well as better understanding of persistent unemployment.

Tian Lou, Post-doctoral Researcher, The Ohio State University

Biography: Tian Lou is a postdoctoral researcher at the Ohio State University. She is doing data analysis and economic modeling for the Ohio Education Research Center and Center for Human Resource Research (CHRR) at the Ohio State University. Before joining OSU, she received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Connecticut in 2017. Her major research field is labor economics. She is interested in studying whether apprenticeship is an effective way to improve low-skill individuals’ earnings and employment. She is also interested in social interactions topics, such as how teenagers form their friendships and how their friendship choices influence their future outcomes.

Study: Evaluation of Registered Apprenticeship Programs in Ohio

The U.S. government aims to increase the number of apprentices to 5 million by 2022. Although there has been substantial growth in the number of apprentices, very little is known about whether and how they benefit from apprenticeship programs. This project will investigate whether apprentices have better labor market outcomes than individuals who have similar educational backgrounds but did not participate in any apprenticeship programs. The project will focus on high school dropouts and high school graduates, since compared with other education groups, these two groups are more likely to participate in apprenticeship programs and benefit from them. In addition, we hypothesize that if apprenticeships are beneficial, they may improve individuals’ outcomes because: 1) apprentices acquire work experience through apprenticeship training; 2) those who complete their programs can get a nationally recognized certificate, which signals their ability to potential employers. Thus, the study will further examine the relative importance of the training and the certificate. This result helps understand the outcomes of apprentices and design policy to improve the participation and completion rates of apprenticeship programs. To achieve these goals, the project will link the Registered Apprenticeship data in Ohio with UI Wages and Higher Education data to track individuals’ apprenticeship participation, education, and employment history.

Jesse Rothstein, Professor of Public Policy and Economics, Director of Institute for Research on Labor and Employment and of California Policy Lab, University of California, Berkeley

Biography: Jesse Rothstein is professor of public policy and economics at the University of California, Berkeley, with affiliations in the Department of Economics and the Goldman School of Public Policy. He is also the director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment; the co-director of the California Policy Lab; and the co-director of the Opportunity Lab. He previously served as Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor and as Senior Economist with the Council of Economic Advisers, Executive Office of the President. Rothstein's research focuses on education policy and on the labor market. His work has been published in leading journals in economics, public policy, education, and law. He is a member of the editorial boards of the American Economic Review, Industrial Relations, and the National Education Policy Center. He was named the John T. Dunlop Outstanding Scholar by the Labor and Employment Relations Association in 2011. He is a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and a fellow of the National Education Policy Center, the CESifo Research Network, the IZA, and the Learning Policy Institute.

Study: The “Gig Economy” and Independent Contracting: Evidence from California Tax Data

This study will measure the prevalence and nature of self-employment, including independent contracting and on-demand platform (AKA “gig”) work in California with de-identified, individual-level data on the universe of California personal income tax returns. These jobs are excluded from US labor market regulations, enforcement, and various programs administered by DOL, so understanding the number of individuals who work primarily or exclusively in this sector is important to ensuring that workers are adequately protected. The study will examine tax returns, linked over time and to the companies that issue W-2s and 1099s to workers and independent contractors, respectively. Jobs will be categorized by the presence of self-employment income, by its share of the worker’s total earnings, by the type of work, and by the industry in which it is performed. The results will shed light on the growth and distribution of independent contracting in California and will provide valuable information for Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and other DOL agencies.

Naomi Sugie, Department of Criminology, Law and Society, University of California, Irvine

Biography: Naomi F. Sugie is an Assistant Professor in the Criminology, Law and Society Department at the University of California, Irvine. Her research focuses on issues of punishment and crime, employment, families, inequality, and new technologies for research with hard-to-reach groups. Her recent projects examine prisoner reentry and the consequences of criminal justice contact for employment, mental health, and political participation. Her work is published in journals such as American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Demography, Social Forces, and Social Problems, and has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Justice, and National Science Foundation. Sugie earned a Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy, as well as a specialization in Demography, from Princeton University.

Study: Criminal Justice Contact and Employment Trajectories Among Young Adults

In the United States, the expansive reach of the criminal justice system has made it a consequential labor market institution. As Western and Beckett explain in their seminal article on incarceration (1999), the criminal justice system provides two functions: first, incarceration removes less-skilled people from labor force counts, which diminishes the appearance of labor market inequalities in the short term. Second, the stigma of incarceration and criminal records negatively impact employment, wages, and earnings, which leads to labor market inequalities in the long term. Although scholarship on labor market and criminal justice systems centers on incarceration in prison, other forms of criminal justice contact (including arrest, incarceration in jails, and supervision) are more prevalent. The lack of attention to these other forms of contact suggests that the consequences of the criminal justice system for labor market outcomes have a far greater reach than currently considered. This project will assess the short- and long-term consequences of criminal justice contact for labor force participation and labor market outcomes using nationally representative data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997. In addition to labor market outcomes that are commonly considered (e.g., any employment, wages, and earnings), the study will utilize monthly measures of labor market outcomes, combined with novel sequence analysis methods, to assess instability and precariousness of employment and wages.

2017-2018 DOL Scholars Program

The 2017-2018 DOL Scholars will conduct and complete research between August 2017 and August 2018. Projects focus on a range of labor-related topics such as: contingent work in the U.S. labor market; the interplay among labor markets on American Indian reservations, tribal policy, and Native economic health; job characteristics and job retention of workers with disabilities; and variations in unemployment and re-employment rates by local economic conditions. Read more below on the work of this year's scholars.

Meet the 2017 Scholars

Daniel M. Deibler, Ph.D. Candidate, Columbia University

Biography: Daniel Deibler is a Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at Columbia University. Before joining Columbia, he graduated summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis with a B.A. in Economics and Mathematics. After graduating, he worked in the private sector at NERA Economic Consulting on securities and antitrust cases. His research focuses on topics in labor economics and industrial organization, as well as health. In particular, he is focused on the increasing role of contingent workers in the economy, whether we can predict whether a worker will be contingent from available data, and the causes of recent increases in the percentage of workers employed on a contingent basis. In health, he is interested in the gender dynamics of birth order and the role of older siblings in childhood development.

Study: Causes and Consequences of Contingent Work in the U.S. Labor Market

Data and Documentation

Since the end of the great recession there has been an increase in the number of contingent workers. While contingent workers represent more than 15% of the entire labor force, we have little information as to the effect of contingent work on these workers’ wages or hours. Our goal is to answer the question: what is the relationship between contingent work and wage equality for low-skilled and high-skilled workers? Our hypothesis is that contingent work reduces wages for low-skill workers (factory line workers) but increases it for high-skill workers (consultants). We will examine the role of contingent work status on benefits, differences in the level and volatility of wages, and impacts on workers’ safety and compensation. We will examine the effect of two shocks, legal changes and competition shocks, on wages and the number of contingent workers. To examine contingent worker share, we will use prediction techniques from machine learning (such as Random Forest) to expand the Contingent Worker Survey using common covariates in each month of the CPS. Additionally, we will develop an instrument for contingent worker share based on caselaw defining employees and contractors. This approach will require techniques from machine learning and language processing, to construct measures of the restrictiveness of legal rules defining employment across states. Finally, we plan to use trade shocks as an instrument for contingent worker share.

Beth Redbird, Assistant Professor, Sociology, Northwestern University

Biography: Beth Redbird an assistant professor at Northwestern University. Her primary research interests are: racial inequality (particularly Native American inequality); group interactions; occupations and work; social class; and survey methodology. In particular, she studies labor market rent, with a special focus on the implications of rent and other forms of closure for inequality. She is also a fellow with the Institute for Policy Research. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford in 2016.

Study: Islands of Labor: Reservation Labor Markets and American Indian Economic Well-Being

Data and Documentation

Distinct institutional and policy features of Native labor markets create unique challenges that impact Indian economic well-being. This project explores the interplay between reservation labor markets, tribal policy, and Native economic health, and applies results to the broader question of poverty in rural areas and small communities. The project includes a descriptive investigation of tribal labor market structure, job initiatives, and policies to fill the gap in knowledge of tribal labor. It aims to provide a wide-scale understanding of job types found on reservations, who works and is unemployed, and methods by which tribes help members get jobs. The project also compares the structure of tribal labor markets with other types of regional economies, specifically rural labor markets and African-American urban areas, to understand the impact of job availability, industry monopoly, and labor policy on the economic well-being of residents. In addition, this project exploits differences in tribal labor policy, geographic area, and market structure to develop a theory of labor processes in closed monopolistic environments and determine the extent to which tribal market structure is driven by rural isolation, racial segregation, and unique monopolistic institutions. Last, using causal inferential techniques, the project determines the impact of policy and market structure on Native economic well-being. Utilizing a unique data set compiled by the researcher that collects information on tribal initiatives, labor policies, and services across all 577 federally recognized Indian tribes, the analysis follows changes in Indian economic well-being after policy enactment, or the introductions of initiatives and services, while controlling for tribal composition and broad economic trends.

Carrie Shandra, Assistant Professor, Sociology, State University of New York at Stony Brook

Biography: Carrie Shandra is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Brown University, and her B.A. in Sociology and English from Boston College. Her research focuses broadly on the life course, disabilities, and market/nonmarket work. She is particularly interested in the factors that facilitate the transition from education to employment, including participation in school-to-work programs and internships. Her work has appeared in Social Science Research, Journal of Marriage and Family, Journal of Disability Policy Studies, and Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation. She has also held postdoctoral fellowships from the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation and the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.

Study: Job Characteristics and Job Retention of Young Workers with Disabilities

Data and Documentation

People with disabilities experience significantly lower levels of labor force participation than people without disabilities in the United States. Although research has focused on work promotion among this population, cohort studies have been underutilized in the study of job separation among workers with disabilities who are in the labor force. I will use publicly available data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97) to examine two research questions: What job characteristics are associated with retention of employees? And, do the characteristics associated with retention differ between workers with and without disabilities? To do so, I will utilize Cox regression and longitudinal employment histories from all 16 currently available rounds of the NLSY97 data. Disability will differentiate between the presence of a sensory, emotional/cognitive, and physical disability as well as by severity of the limitation. Job characteristics will include sector, benefits, scheduling, and job search. Job separations will be categorized into health-related, family-related, other voluntary and involuntary job changes or job exits. Understanding the characteristics associated with job retention for workers with disabilities is necessary for identifying opportunities for intervention. NLSY97, unlike previous cohort studies, allows for the unique opportunity to disentangle the timing of disability from the timing of employment, education, and family transitions. Results will fill a gap in the research literature and inform employer-level disability policy initiatives.

Wei-hsin Yu, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Maryland, College Park

Biography: Wei-hsin Yu is a social demographer whose research interests include gender and labor market inequalities, employment insecurity, and marriage and relationship formation. Most of her work focuses on how the context in which people work and live influences their various outcomes, such as labor market trajectories, earnings, family behaviors, and psychological health. She has conducted research on the United States as well as several East Asian societies, including China, Japan, and Taiwan. She has published two books and many peer-reviewed articles. Her articles have appeared in the American Sociological Review, Demography, Social Forces, and Journal of Marriage and Family.

Study: Falling In and Getting Out of Unemployment: Do Gender, Racial, and Class Differences Vary by Local Economy?

Data and Documentation

Unemployment is one of the events in life that may trigger downward mobility and diminishing well-being for individuals over the long run. Previous research indicates that the risk of undergoing unemployment differs for different social groups based on gender, race/ethnicity, and family socioeconomic background. Relatively few studies, however, use individual-level analyses to demonstrate net gender, racial/ethnic, and class-origin differences in the rates of transitioning in and out of unemployment, and even fewer examine how these differences vary by local economic context. In the proposed study, I will use longitudinal data from a contemporary cohort of young adults, in conjunction with time-varying unemployment rates for their specific metropolitan area, to investigate whether and how local economic conditions moderate potential gender, racial/ethnic, and class-origin gaps in the paces of entering and exiting unemployment. I will first generate baseline estimates by gender, racial/ethnic, and class-origin net of many individual characteristics that prior research has not considered (e.g., controls for prior unemployment or incarceration episodes). Next, I will test whether any identified baseline gaps widen or narrow with rises in local unemployment. I will also consider the extent to which any alterations in these gaps are associated with different groups' concentrations in industries and occupations that are affected differentially by economic downturns, as opposed to employers' altered or persistent preferences under economic pressure. Results from this project will provide evidence on the new and potentially different challenges economic downturns bring to different groups.

2016-2017 DOL Scholars Program

In 2016-2017, four scholars from recognized research institutions were competitively selected to participate in the DOL Scholars Program.

Meet the 2016 Scholars

Lawrence W. Gross, Associate Professor and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Endowed Chair of Native American Studies, Race, and Ethnic Studies Program, University of Redlands, Redlands, California

Biography: Dr. Lawrence Gross (Anishinaabe) is a member of the Minnesota Chippewa tribe, enrolled on the White Earth reservation. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities and his master’s degree from Harvard University. He holds a master’s degree and doctor of philosophy degree from Stanford University in Religious Studies. Dr. Gross’s primary research area is Anishinaabe culture and religion, with numerous publications in the field. His book, Anishinaabe Ways of Knowing Being was published by Ashgate Publishing in 2014. It examines the apocalypse the Anishinaabeg went through in the early twentieth century and the cultural resources they are using to rebuild their society. His article, “Assisting American Indian Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan Cope with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Lessons from Vietnam Veterans and the Writings of Jim Northrup,” won the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers Writer of the Year, Academic Article 2006-2007 award. He has also published on using American Indian pedagogical methods in the university setting, and he has been nominated for numerous teaching awards. Dr. Gross has taught at Iowa State University in Ames, IA, and Montana State University in Bozeman, MT. He is now an associate professor and serves as the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Endowed Chair of Native American Studies at the University of Redlands in Redlands, CA.

Study: How Badly Are Native Americans Affected by Economic Recessions? The Role of Agriculture

Data and Documentation

Since the rise of casino operations in Indian Country over the previous decades, much of the focus of economic research on Indians reservations has centered on the gaming industry. However, the gaming industry is not the only area of economic activity that has experienced growth in Indian Country over the last 25 years. Federal data on Indian agriculture indicates Indian-owned farms have witnessed a large growth, with an increase of 124% from the period of 2002 to 2007 alone. Yet, little research has been done on this area of the economies of Indian reservations, especially as to how Indian agriculture contributes to the resiliency of those economies. We seek to fill that gap by measuring the contribution of Indian agriculture to economic resilience during the last three economic recessions. By overlaying proprietary economic data by Zip Code onto Indian reservations, this study uses measures of Indian agricultural data to assess the resilience of Indian reservations during times of economic recession. The results will determine which kind of recession affects different reservations the most. Using those results, Native American reservations will be classified by economic resilience and the degree to which agricultural labor contributes to that resilience. Once the parameters for the agricultural industry are established, regularly updated data on additional sectors will be added to the data set available to federal agencies, tribal governments, media outlets, scholars, and interested members of the general public on the website for the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis at the University of Redlands (www.iseapublish.com).

Johannes Schmieder, Assistant Professor, Economics, Boston University, Boston Massachusetts

Biography: Johannes Schmieder is currently an Assistant Professor in the Economics Department at Boston University. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from from Columbia University where he studied between 2004 and 2010. Prior to joining Columbia he completed a B.A. in Philosophy and Economics the University of Bayreuth. His research focuses on topics in labor, public and health economics. In particular he has studied the effects of unemployment insurance on non-employment durations and wages, the optimal design of tax and welfare benefits in the presence of market spillovers and the importance of reference dependence in job search decisions. His work has also investigated the role of domestic outsourcing in shaping the wage structure over the past decades and the effect of job loss on workers earnings trajectories. In health economics he has been working on projects evaluating the impact of environmental hazards and public policy on infant health.

Study: The Effects of Domestic Outsourcing of Labor Services on Job Quality, Workplace Safety, and Labor Standards

In this proposal, I outline a new research project, that leverages existing administrative datasets in the U.S. to provide credible causal estimates of domestic outsourcing on a number of important job characteristics. In particular, by combining various datasets from Census, BLS and the DOL, it will be possible to study the effects on earnings, job stability, workplace safety, workplace injuries, and violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), such as overtime and minimum wage violations. The main strategy builds on a recent paper, Goldschmidt and Schmieder (2015), that develops a new design to identify domestic outsourcing from worker flows in German linked employer-employee data. Using this method, it is possible to identify events where firms outsource labor services by spinning off parts of their worker force into either new or existing business service providers. In this case, it is possible to observe the same job and worker before and after outsourcing and compare job characteristics to a comparable job that is not being outsourced. Applying the same method to U.S. linked employer employee data will, for the first time, yield credibly identified effects of outsourcing on a variety of job quality measures.

Matthew Johnson, Postdoctoral Scholar, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Biography: Matthew Johnson is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. His research seeks to understand how different regulations, policies, and shifts in the labor market have shaped working conditions in the U.S. Much of his current work focuses on the effects of health and safety regulations, and what factors influence firms’ compliance with these regulations. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from Boston University, and his B.A. in Economics and History from the University of California, Berkeley. Before beginning his doctoral studies, he was a Senior Research Assistant at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC and a Research Associate at Harvard Business School. He hails originally from Pasadena, California.

Study: Organizational and Geographic Spillover Effects of OSHA Enforcement: Evidence from Randomized Inspections

A crucial question for OSHA and other regulatory agencies in the Department of Labor is the extent to which enforcement inspections lead to general deterrence—that is, improve compliance and performance at the far more numerous non-inspected workplaces. Knowing the magnitude, scale and scope of these spillover effects can have enormous implications for how OSHA’s enforcement resources can be targeted to maximize their overall impact on the health and safety of U.S. workers. However, there is little empirical evidence to date regarding spillover effects of OSHA inspections. In this research project, we ask whether, to what extent, and under what circumstances do OSHA inspections affect safety outcomes of non-inspected establishments. In particular, we investigate spillover effects to other establishments in the same firm of an inspected establishment, and neighboring establishments regardless of corporate ownership. We hypothesize spillover effects will be stronger for facilities that are closer to an inspected establishment in terms of geography and/or sector. Our research design will utilize a subset of inspections under OSHA's Site-Specific Targeting (SST) program that were allocated using random assignment from 2001-2010. To estimate spillover effects of SST inspections, we will compare the trend in safety outcomes of corporate siblings and neighbors of establishments randomly selected for SST inspections to that of siblings and neighbors of establishments that were eligible—but not selected—for SST inspections.

Adrienne Edisis, Visiting Assistant Professor, School of Public and International Affairs, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia

Biography: Dr. Adrienne Edisis has research interests in the influence of public policies on the structure of employment and job quality. In her work, she has studied the relationships between state unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation costs and temporary help services employment. Dr. Edisis teaches courses in policy, statistics, and research design. She obtained her PhD in public policy from The George Washington University and her MPP from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Study: Incentive Effects of Workers' Compensation Insurance Costs

Data and Documentation

With public concern about a "race to the bottom" in state workers compensation insurance, rigorous inquiry into the incentive effects of workers’ compensation insurance on employers is warranted. Asymmetric information and moral hazard have long been considered potential impediments to efficiency in insurance markets. The proposed research will investigate the problem of moral hazard resulting from imperfect information and information asymmetries in the market for workers’ compensation insurance and incentives for employer workers’ compensation insurance cost "dumping" on temporary help services employment agencies. Without countervailing effects of experience modifications, deductible payments, or the threat of worker litigation, these factors may not only reduce the incentive to ensure temporary help services worker safety, but also provide an incentive for employers to substitute temporary help services workers for directly-hired workers. Empirical research on employer cost differentials for workers’ compensation insurance for temporary help services workers relative to directly-hired workers will be carried out using fixed effects regression analysis of panel data from the National Compensation Survey. With data differentiated by industry, the method will take advantage of variation in worker’s compensation costs across occupations and over time. Complementary qualitative research will be conducted to explore the mechanisms underlying workers’ compensation insurance cost differentials between temporary help services workers and directly-hired workers. The research aims to advance understanding not only of workers’ compensation insurance incentive effects on employers, but also of a possible contributor to the hiring of temporary help services workers, a group vulnerable to workplace injury.

Prior Years Scholars Program

2015 DOL Scholars Program

In 2015, five scholars from recognized research institutions were competitively selected to participate in the 2015 DOL Scholars Program.

Meet the 2015 Scholars

Patricia Cortes, Assistant Professor of Markets, Public Policy, and Law, School of Management, Boston University

Biography: Dr. Cortes is an empirical labor economist working on international migration and gender. In her work she has studied how low-skilled immigration affects prices and the labor supply of high skilled women in the US, the role of foreign nurses in the US healthcare system, and female migration flows in East Asia. Dr. Cortes’s work has been published in the Journal of Political Economy, the Journal of Labor Economics, the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, the Journal of Human Resources, and the Journal of Health Economics. Dr. Cortes obtained her PhD in Economics from MIT and a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Economics from La Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia. She has also been an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business and a Visiting Scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Study: Understanding the Prevalence and Returns to Working Long Hours and the Gender Pay Gap : Evidence Across Countries

Despite the rapid progress that women have made in reversing the gender gap in education, declines in labor market discrimination, and improvements in the continuity of labor market experience, gender differences in earnings in the US – in particular for the college educated – have remained remarkably persistent. This project explores the role of the growing prevalence of overtime work coupled with the increasing returns to providing long hours in explaining the persistence of a significant gender pay gap among the highly educated in the US and its large variation across occupations. Our approach is to exploit cross-country variation - both cross-sectional and changes over time – in overwork, its return, and gender gaps. We use micro data for close to 20 industrialized countries. Our approach is motivated by two key insights. First, by examining whether the trends observed in the US are also present in other industrialized countries, we can infer if the determinants of the US trends in the prevalence and returns to overwork are universal (technological innovations and globalization) or country specific (organizational structures and inequality). Second, to the extent that other characteristics of occupations do not vary much by country (e.g. competitiveness and risk taking), and if indeed the higher cost to women of providing long hours is what is driving the cross-occupation correlation between the gender gap in hours worked and the gender pay gap in the US, we should observe smaller differences in gender pay gaps across occupations in countries where fewer workers work overtime.

Suqin Ge, Associate Professor of Economics, Virginia Tech

Biography: Dr. Ge’s research focuses primarily on labor economics. Her work has covered a wide range of topics including education, labor supply, wage structure, discrimination, wage dispersion and dynamics, migration, and early child development. She has published in leading economics journals, such as Journal of Labor Economics, Journal of the European Economic Association, and Journal of Applied Econometrics. Dr. Ge obtained her PhD in economics from the University of Minnesota before joining Virginia Tech in 2006.

Study: Asymmetric Employer Learning and Racial Discrimination

The existence of a notable and persistent black-white wage gap among workers with the same productivity characteristics is consistent with the presence of racial discrimination, but it does not provide a direct test of the hypothesis. It may overstate discrimination if there are omitted productivity variables, and it may understate discrimination if discrimination affects human capital investments in the first place. If firms statistically discriminate black workers, then as firm learn about productivity, wage should become less correlated with race. Prior research suggests little evidence for statistical discrimination in wages on the basis of race in an employer-learning model. However, virtually no prior work has considered the possibility that employer learning may be asymmetric. That is, outside firms may have informational disadvantage compared to incumbent firms. Ge’s project aims to fill this void by testing for statistical discrimination on the basis of race under asymmetric employer learning.

Amit Kramer, Assistant Professor of Labor and Employment Relations, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Biography: Dr. Kramer’s research focuses on work and family relations with a focus on employees’ health outcomes and the role organizational benefits and policies play in that relationship. In his studies Dr. Kramer explores the conditions under which employees are better aware of the family benefits offered by organizations; when employees would be more likely to use work-family benefits; and, whether employees benefit (e.g., have better balance between work and family) or being penalized for using such policies (e.g., have lower promotion rates); and the effect of work and family demands on employees health and well-being. Dr. Kramer also studies the role diversity and identity similarity play in team and individual outcomes. He is studying the conditions under which diversity is beneficial or harmful for team's outcomes. In his diversity research Dr. Kramer is exploring both surface-level diversity characteristics like gender and race and deep-level diversity characteristics like interests, beliefs, and values. Dr. Kramer’s research has been published in Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Industrial Relations, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Organizational Behavior and other outlets.

Study: The Demands and Resources of Work and Family: A Longitudinal Study of their Effects on the Risk of Injuries in the Workplace

Workplace injuries have been a topic of great interest in the field of labor relations, human resources, and management. Although injuries in the workplace are considered a low frequency event, the consequences are nontrivial for individual workers and their families, organizations, and policy makers. While research focusing on workplace safety procedures and workplace safety climate is abundant, less research has been devoted to the effects of work and family demands, responsibilities, and resources on work injuries and illnesses. Work and family represent two central domains in most individuals’ life and the blurring of the borders between work and family many workers experienced in the last three decades translates to increasing demands of both work and family on individuals’ resources. Resources such as time and energy are finite in their nature and are used by individuals to meet demands and responsibilities at both the work and family domains; devoting more resources to meeting demands and responsibilities in these domains can come at the expense of meeting demands that are devoted to safety (e.g., “cutting corners” in order to work faster). In this research we use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79) a representative sample of the US population and collects rich work, family, and work injuries data. The unique longitudinal nature of these data allows us to estimate how between-person differences and within-person changes in work and family demands, responsibilities, and resources affect the probability an individual will suffer from a work injury. We further investigate if different work and family demands lead to different types of injuries.

Melissa McInerney, Associate Professor of Economics, Tufts University

Biography: Dr. McInerney's research addresses how individuals who face hurdles in the labor market can be more successful, as well as the policies and programs that serve these individuals. In her work, Dr. McInerney focuses on outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities and individuals with disabilities as well as the public programs created to assist individuals with disabilities, such as Workers' Compensation (WC), Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare.

Study: Examining Differences by Ethnicity in the Propensity to File for Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Examining Differences by Ethnicity in the Propensity to File for Workers' Compensation Insurance In this project, I examine two puzzles concerning Hispanic workers, nonfatal workplace injuries, and Workers' Compensation (WC) claims. First, although Hispanic workers are disproportionately employed in higher risk industries and suffer the highest rate of workplace fatalities of any racial or ethnic group, it is not clear that Hispanic workers experience the highest rate of nonfatal injuries. I first assess whether this might be due to underreporting of either ethnicity or workplace injury. The second puzzle I examine is whether injured Hispanic workers are equally likely to receive WC cash benefit payments. Prior estimates from survey microdata suggest Hispanic workers may be less likely to receive WC cash payments than white or black workers; however, this prior work was unable to control for workplace injury. To address this, using a sample of injured workers from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79 and NLSY97) I test whether there are ethnic differences in the likelihood of filing a claim for WC, and if, conditional on filing, there are ethnic differences in the likelihood of being awarded WC.

Brian Thiede, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Louisiana State University.

Biography: Dr. Thiede is a social demographer and currently conducts research in the areas of poverty, inequality, and spatial mobility. He teaches courses on demography and research methods. Dr. Thiede completed his PhD at Cornell University in 2014 and his BA at Bucknell University in 2008.

Study: Changing Patterns of Work and Poverty During and After the Great Recession

This study examines trends in and correlates to the rate of poverty among workers in the United States before, during, and after the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Analyses of data from the American Community Survey provide evidence about how the recession’s impact and related changes in the demographic, occupational, and geographic composition of the workforce affected the rate of poverty among American workers. Results offer policymakers and other stakeholders a nuanced picture of workers’ economic status across a period of significant macroeconomic change.

2013-2014 DOL Scholars Program

In 2013, six scholars from recognized research institutions were competitively selected to participate in the 2013-2014 DOL Scholars Program.

Meet the 2014 Scholars

Chloe Gibbs, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Education, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, University of Virginia

Unmeasured Effects? Assessing the Impact of Full-day Kindergarten on Maternal Employment
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This study investigates the causal impact of the availability of full-day kindergarten and participation on women's labor market attachment. Because full-day kindergarten represents a wealth transfer to parents in the form of subsidized childcare and provides approximately three additional hours of public schooling relative to half-day kindergarten, mothers may be able to participate more in the labor market as a result of the policy. Additionally, they may avoid a disruption in their labor force participation caused by the different schedule of half-day kindergarten relative to publicly provided preschool, such as Head Start, in the prior year and first grade in the following year. This project seeks to explore both the intensive (do more women work at all when full-day kindergarten programs are available?) and the extensive margins (do women work more hours as a result of full-day kindergarten availability?) of labor supply.

Angshuman Gooptu, PhD Candidate, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University

Early Effects of the 2010 Affordable Care Act on Labor Market Outcomes
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The implementation of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have significant impacts on the welfare of Americans, its impacts going beyond access to health insurance and health care. Since health insurance and employment are closely related in the U.S., the ACA has the potential to change labor market outcomes. The purpose of this project is to analyze the anticipatory and early effects of the following three ACA policies on labor market outcomes: the young adult dependent coverage mandate, the Medicaid expansion, and the employer mandate. These policies could create incentives to decrease participation in the labor force, full-time employment, and work hours among young adults and low- to moderate-income employees, while the ACA insurance expansion could improve the economy and affect these outcomes positively.

Sara Heller, Assistant Professor of Criminology, University of Pennsylvania

The Effects of Summer Jobs on Justice-Involved and Disadvantaged Youth

Unemployment rates currently facing American youth are bleak, with an even more dire situation for minority males — especially those with criminal records. Past efforts to connect this population to the labor market have shown mixed results, with improvements in outcomes often fading out quickly, offset by the high costs of intensive intervention. This study will rigorously test a targeted program designed to connect this population to the work force. Unlike previous comprehensive efforts, the program focuses on two key sets of skills for youth in the midst of schooling, crime, and labor market choices: employment and decision-making. The program, run by Chicago's Department of Family and Support Services, combines six-week summer job placements and adult job mentors with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)-based programming.

Marta Lachowska, Economist, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

The Effects of Relaxing the Work Search Requirement on Job Match Quality
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The work search requirement has been a central part of unemployment insurance (UI) in the United States since the system began in the 1930s. Although necessary to reduce the moral hazard associated with UI, it could also pressure workers into accepting a relatively poor job match, leading to lower long-term earnings. This research aims to examine the effects of eliminating the work search requirement on post-unemployment job match quality. Specifically, the project uses data from the 1986-87 Washington Alternative-Work Search experiment merged with nine years of follow-up wage records to estimate the causal effects of eliminating the work search requirement on UI claimants' post-unemployment tenure, long-term employment, and earnings.

Alison Morantz, Professor of Law and John A. Wilson Distinguished Faculty Scholar, Stanford University

The Relationship between Injury Type and the Likelihood of Underreporting

The underreporting of workplace injuries and illnesses has become a major concern for both labor scholars and Department of Labor (DOL) policymakers. Prior research suggests that injury and illness statistics reported by employers to DOL's constituent agencies, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), are frequently underreported. However, virtually no prior work has explored which types of injuries are most (or least) prone to underreporting. Supplementing this problem is that DOL personnel are not equipped with practical tools to help them identify the most likely violators. This study will attempt to fill this vacuum by analyzing injury-level data from audits conducted by both OSHA and MSHA.

Aaron Sojourner, Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota

Effects of Unionization on Worker and Workplace Safety
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Through collective bargaining and information sharing, labor unions may complement U.S. Department of Labor efforts to enforce the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Act. While theory suggests that employee unionization would increase occupational safety, most empirical studies have failed to predict this relationship due to two main confounding factors. First, unionized employees are more likely to report occupational risks to occupational health and safety enforcement agencies. Second, more dangerous jobs are more likely to be unionized. This study will overcome both of these obstacles to generate clean evidence on the effect of unionization on workplace safety.

2012-2013 DOL Scholars Program

In 2012, one scholar was competitively selected to conduct research under the DOL scholar program.

Meet the 2013 Scholar

Gulgun Bayaz Ozturk, CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College

Effect of Job Loss on Wealth Accumulation of Older Workers
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This study examines the impact of job displacement on wealth holdings of older workers. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, this study measures the impact of job loss on the total wealth and its subcomponents. This study uses the formulation of Love et al. (2007) to compare household wealth to poverty by computing the ratio of household wealth to the actuarial present value of poverty lines.