Chief Evaluation Office
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.
2017-2018 DOL Scholars Program
Applications are now being accepted for the 2017-2018 DOL Scholars Program, a one-year program starting in August 2017.
By April 17, 2017, applicants need to submit a technical proposal, a cost proposal, curriculum vitae, and one letter of recommendation. Application support materials are provided on the program website at http://scholars.avarconsulting.com. Awards will be made based on a combination of factors including the rigor and appropriateness of the proposed methodology, the extent of innovation and creativity in the choice of topic or method, and the potential to inform policy decisions and contribute to scholarly literature.
2016-2017 DOL Scholars Program
The 2016-2017 DOL Scholars will conduct and complete research between August 2016 and August 2017. Projects focus on a range of labor-related topics such as the role of agriculture in Indian Country recovery from the Great Recession, OSHA inspection spillover effects, and the relationship between domestic outsourcing and workplace safety. Read more below on the fascinating work of this year’s scholars.
Johannes Schmieder, Assistant Professor, Economics, Boston University, Boston Massachusetts
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
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.
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
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.
Incentive Effects of Workers' Compensation Insurance Costs
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.
Patricia Cortes, Assistant Professor of Markets, Public Policy, and Law, School of Management, Boston University
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Public Use File- Employment
Public Use File- Achievement
Document for Public Use File- Employment
Document for Public Use File- Achievement
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
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
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 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 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
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.
Gulgun Bayaz Ozturk, CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College
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.