Lawrence F. Katz's research while affiliated with Harvard University and other places

Publications (189)

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How does one's place of residence affect individual behavior and long-run outcomes? Understanding neighborhood and place effects has been a leading question for social scientists during the past half-century. Recent empirical studies using experimental and quasi-experimental research designs have generated new insights on the importance of resident...
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Anti-poverty policies have the potential to improve mental health. We conducted a randomized trial to investigate whether a fourfold increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income Americans without dependent children would reduce psychological distress relative to the current federal credit (Paycheck Plus, New York City site). Between 2013...
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Although nonexperimental studies find robust neighborhood effects on adults, such findings have been challenged by results from the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) residential mobility experiment. Using a within-study comparison design, this article compares experimental and nonexperimental estimates from MTO and a parallel analysis of the Panel Study...
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Antipoverty policies may hold promise as tools to improve health and reduce mortality rates among low-income Americans. We examined the health effects of the New York City Paycheck Plus randomized controlled trial. Paycheck Plus tests the impact of a potential fourfold increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income Americans without depend...
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The race between education and technology provides a canonical framework that does a remarkable job of explaining US wage structure changes across the twentieth century. The framework involves secular increases in the demand for more-educated workers from skill-biased technological change, combined with variations in the supply of skills from chang...
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This article discusses trends in alternative work arrangements in the United States using data from the Contingent Worker Survey (CWS) supplements to the Current Population Survey (CPS) for 1995 to 2017, the 2015 RAND-Princeton Contingent Work Survey, and administrative tax data from the Internal Revenue Service for 2000 to 2016. Based on cyclicall...
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To monitor trends in alternative work arrangements, the authors conducted a version of the Contingent Worker Survey as part of the RAND American Life Panel in late 2015. Their findings point to a rise in the incidence of alternative work arrangements in the US economy from 1995 to 2015. The percentage of workers engaged in alternative work arrangem...
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The fall of labor's share of GDP in the United States and many other countries in recent decades is well documented but its causes remain uncertain. Existing empirical assessments of trends in labor's share typically have relied on industry or macro data, obscuring heterogeneity among firms. In this paper, we analyze micro panel data from the U.S....
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The recent fall of labor's share of GDP in numerous countries is well-documented, but its causes are poorly understood. We sketch a "superstar firm" model where industries are increasingly characterized by "winner take most" competition, leading a small number of highly profitable (and low labor share) firms to command growing market share. Buildin...
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The share of U.S. workers in alternative work arrangements has increased substantially in recent decades. Micro longitudinal analyses show that unemployed workers are much more likely to transition into alternative work arrangements than other workers. Macro time-series evidence shows that weak labor market conditions lead to an increase in non-tra...
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To the Editor In the Original Investigation entitled “Associations of Housing Mobility Interventions for Children in High-Poverty Neighborhoods With Subsequent Mental Disorders During Adolescence” published in the March 5, 2014, issue of JAMA,¹ we inadvertently reported incorrect confidence intervals and a P value in 2 tables. This study explored t...
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The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) experiment offered randomly selected families housing vouchers to move from high-poverty housing projects to lower-poverty neighborhoods. We analyze MTO's impacts on children's long-term outcomes using tax data. We find that moving to a lower-poverty neighborhood when young (before age 13) increases college attendanc...
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We study employers' perceptions of the value of postsecondary degrees using a field experiment. We randomly assign the sector and selectivity of institutions to fictitious resumes and apply to real vacancy postings for business and health jobs on a large online job board. We find that a business bachelor's degree from a for-profit online institutio...
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Roland Fryer is an extraordinary applied microeconomist whose research output related to racial inequality, the US racial achievement gap, and the design and evaluation of educational policies make him a worthy recipient of the 2015 John Bates Clark Medal. I will divide this survey of Roland's research into five categories: the racial achievement g...
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We explore the role of composition, duration dependence, and labor force nonparticipation in accounting for the sharp increase in the incidence of long-term unemployment (LTU) during the Great Recession. We show that compositional shifts account for very little of the observed increase in LTU. Using panel data from the Current Population Survey for...
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African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) is systematic, rooted in history, and important as an identity marker and expressive resource for its speakers. In these respects, it resembles other vernacular or nonstandard varieties, like Cockney or Appalachian English. But like them, AAVE can trigger discrimination in the workplace, housing market, an...
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We examine whether online learning technologies have led to lower prices in higher education. Using data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, we show that online education is concentrated in large for-profit chains and less-selective public institutions. We find that colleges with a higher share of online students charge lower t...
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Youth in high-poverty neighborhoods have high rates of emotional problems. Understanding neighborhood influences on mental health is crucial for designing neighborhood-level interventions. To perform an exploratory analysis of associations between housing mobility interventions for children in high-poverty neighborhoods and subsequent mental disord...
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Using data from a randomized experiment, to examine whether moving youth out of areas of concentrated poverty, where a disproportionate amount of crime occurs, prevents involvement in crime. We draw on new administrative data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Moving to Opportunity (MTO) experiment. MTO families were random...
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This paper reviews the evidence on the efficacy of neighborhood and school interventions in improving the long-run outcomes of children growing up in poor families. We focus on studies exploiting exogenous sources of variation in neighborhoods and schools and which examine at least medium-term outcomes. Higher-quality neighborhoods improve family s...
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For-profit, or proprietary, colleges are the fastest-growing postsecondary schools in the nation, enrolling a disproportionately high share of disadvantaged and minority students and those ill-prepared for college. Because these schools, many of them big national chains, derive most of their revenue from taxpayer-funded student financial aid, they...
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This paper examines shifts over time in the relative demand for skilled labor in the United States. Although de-skilling in the conventional sense did occur overall in nineteenth century manufacturing, a more nuanced picture is that occupations “hollowed out”: the share of “middle-skill” jobs – artisans – declined while those of “high-skill” – whit...
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We examine long-term neighborhood effects on low-income families using data from the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) randomized housing-mobility experiment, which offered some public-housing families but not others the chance to move to less-disadvantaged neighborhoods. We show that 10-15 years after baseline MTO improves adult physical and mental heal...
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Labor market policies succeed or fail at least in part depending on how well they reflect or account for behavioral responses. Insights from behavioral economics, which allow for realistic deviations from standard economic assumptions about behavior, have consequences for the design and functioning of labor market policies. We review key implicatio...
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Nearly 9 million Americans live in extreme-poverty neighborhoods, places that also tend to be racially segregated and dangerous. Yet, the effects on the well-being of residents of moving out of such communities into less distressed areas remain uncertain. Using data from Moving to Opportunity, a unique randomized housing mobility experiment, we fou...
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Pharmacy has become a female-majority profession that is highly remunerated with a small gender earnings gap and low earnings dispersion relative to other occupations. We sketch a labor market framework based on the theory of equalizing differences to integrate and interpret our empirical findings on earnings, hours of work, and the part-time work...
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Evidence about the effects of neighborhood environments on children and youth is central to the design of a wide range of public policies. Armed with long-term survey data from the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) for Fair Housing demonstration final impacts evaluation (Sanbonmatsu et al, 2011), we have the opportunity to understand whether neighborhood...
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Adults living in high-poverty neighborhoods often fare worse than adults in more advantaged neighborhoods on their physical health, mental health, and economic well-being. Although social scientists have observed this association for hundreds of years, they have found it difficult to determine the extent to which the neighborhoods themselves affect...
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Private for-profit institutions have been the fastest-growing part of the U.S. higher education sector. For-profit enrollment increased from 0.2 percent to 9.1 percent of total enrollment in degree-granting schools from 1970 to 2009, and for-profit institutions account for the majority of enrollments in non-degree-granting postsecondary schools. We...
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The authors study the pecuniary penalties for family-related amenities in the workplace (e.g., job interruptions, short hours, part-time work, and flexibility during the workday), how women have responded to them, and how the penalties have changed over time. The pecuniary penalties to behaviors that are beneficial to family appear to have decrease...
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Wage inequality and educational wage differentials have expanded substantially in the United States over the past two decades. This widening of the wage structure has coincided with the rapid computerization of the workplace. Thus, it is not surprising that many labor market analysts have tried to draw a causal connection between rising earnings in...
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The question of whether neighborhood environment contributes directly to the development of obesity and diabetes remains unresolved. The study reported on here uses data from a social experiment to assess the association of randomly assigned variation in neighborhood conditions with obesity and diabetes. From 1994 through 1998, the Department of Ho...
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This paper presents a novel stylized fact and analyzes its contribution to the skill bias of technical change in U.S. manufacturing. The share of skilled labor embedded in intermediate inputs correlates strongly with the skill share employed in final production. This finding points towards an intersectoral technology-skill complementarity (ITSC). T...
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Empirical estimates of peer effects vary widely in the literature. To better understand the conflicting evidence, we develop a price theory of social interactions in which peer group mem-bership is dictated by comparative advantage. Two key results emerge from the model. First, when comparative advantage is the guiding principle of peer group organ...
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Leading economists from Paul Samuelson to Paul Krugman have labored to allay the fear that technological advances may reduce overall employment, causing mass unemployment as workers are displaced by machines. This ‘lump of labor fallacy’ - positing that there is a fixed amount of work to be done so that increased labor productivity reduces employme...
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Europe experienced a "Commercial Revolution" in the late Middle Ages. We present new data that document this transformation using information on city incorporation and market establishment. We then test whether universities played a causal role in expanding economic activity, examining the consequences of their exogenous establishment in Germany fo...
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The careers of MBAs from a top US business school are studied to understand how career dynamics differ by gender. Although male and female MBAs have nearly identical earnings at the outset of their careers, their earnings soon diverge, with the male earnings advantage reaching almost 60 log points a decade after MBA completion. Three proximate fact...
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This paper presents novel empirical evidence on the impact of access to abortion on sex ratios at birth (SRB), excess female mortality (EFM) and fertility in Taiwan. For identification, we exploit plausibly exogenous variation in the availability of sex-selective abortion caused by the legalization of abortion. Our results show that the legalizatio...
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The history of coeducation in U.S. higher education is explored through an analysis of a database containing information on all institutions offering four-year undergraduate degrees that operated in 1897, 1924, 1934, or 1980, most of which still exist today. These data reveal surprises about the timing of coeducation and the reasons for its increas...
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This paper assesses the relative importance of various explanations for the gender gap in career outcomes for highly-educated workers in the U.S. corporate and financial sectors. The careers of MBAs, who graduated between 1990 and 2006 from a top U.S. business school, are studied to understand how career dynamics differ by gender. Although male and...
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This paper tests whether providing information about the work incentives created by the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) ampli…es its e¤ects on labor supply. We conducted a randomized …eld experiment with 43,000 EITC claimants at H&R Block in which half the clients were provided simple, personalized information about the EITC schedule. We obtain thr...
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Experimental estimates from Moving to Opportunity (MTO) show no significant impacts of moves to lower‐poverty neighborhoods on adult economic self‐sufficiency four to seven years after random assignment. The authors disagree with Clampet‐Lundquist and Massey's claim that MTO was a weak intervention and therefore uninformative about neighborhood eff...
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What determines the enforcement of reform of business regulation? What are the outcomes of such reform? We address these questions using an episode of a drastic reform in Russia between 2001 and 2004 which liberalized registration, licensing, and inspections. Based on the analysis of micro-level panel data on regulatory burden, we find that: 1) On...
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I examine the impact of taxation on family labor supply and test economic models of the family by analyzing responses to the Tax Reform of 1991 in Sweden, known as the "tax reform of the century" because of its large magnitude. Using detailed administrative panel data on approximately 11% of the married Swedish population, I …nd that husbands and w...
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We present the first estimates of the returns to years of schooling before 1940 using a large sample individuals (from the 1915 Iowa State Census). The returns to a year of high school or college were substantial in 1915 about 11 percent for all males and in excess of 12 percent for young males. Education enabled individuals to enter lucrative whit...
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A recent "revisionist" literature characterizes the pronounced rise in U.S. wage inequality since 1980 as an "episodic" event of the first half of the 1980s driven by nonmarket factors (particularly a falling real minimum wage) and concludes that continued increases in wage inequality since the late 1980s substantially reflect the mechanical confou...
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The U.S. wage structure evolved across the last century: narrowing from 1910 to 1950, fairly stable in the 1950s and 1960s, widening rapidly during the 1980s, and “polarizing†since the late 1980s. We document the spectacular rise of U.S. wage inequality after 1980 and place recent changes into a century-long historical perspective to understand...
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U.S. educational and occupational wage differentials were exceptionally high at the dawn of the twentieth century and then decreased in several stages over the next eight decades. But starting in the early 1980s the labor market premium to skill rose sharply and by 2005 the college wage premium was back at its 1915 level. The twentieth century cont...
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Families, primarily female-headed minority households with children, living in high-poverty public housing projects in five U.S. cities were offered housing vouchers by lottery in the Moving to Opportunity program. Four to seven years after random assignment, families offered vouchers lived in safer neighborhoods that had lower poverty rates than t...
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Productivity growth in virtually all west European countries exceeded that of the United States throughout the period 1950 to 1995. Since then American productivity performance has strengthened and that of the EU has weakened. The most important reason is contrasting experiences with Information and Communications Technology (ICT). The article argu...
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Women are currently the majority of U.S. college students and of those receiving a bachelor’s degree, but were 39 percent of undergraduates in 1960. We use three longitudinal data sets of high school graduates in 1957, 1972, and 1992 to understand the narrowing of the gender gap in college and its reversal. From 1972 to 1992 high school girls narro...
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Employers have experimented with three broad approaches to promoting diversity. Some programs are designed to establish organizational responsibility for diversity, others to moderate managerial bias through training and feedback, and still others to reduce the social isolation of women and minority workers. These approaches find support in academi...
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When contracting is not possible, a preference for fair exchange can generate efficient ex-change, fully exhausting the potential gains from trade — or no exchange at all, leaving all gains from trade unexploited. A profit-maximizing firm offers a wage to a fair-minded worker, who then chooses how much effort to exert. The Rotten Firm theorem says:...
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This paper analyzes a marked change in the evolution of the U.S. wage structure over the past fifteen years: divergent trends in upper-tail (90/50) and lower-tail (50/10) wage inequality. We document that wage inequality in the top half of distribution has displayed an unchecked and rather smooth secular rise for the last 25 years (since 1980). Wag...
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A recent "revisionist " literature characterizes the pronounced rise in U.S. wage inequality since 1980 as an "episodic " event of the first-half of the 1980s driven by non-market factors (particularly a falling real minimum wage) and concludes that continued increases in wage inequality since the late 1980s substantially reflect the mechanical con...
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During the early 1980s, earnings inequality in the U.S. labor market rose relatively uniformly throughout the wage distribution. But this uniformity gave way to a significant divergence starting in 1987, with upper-tail (90/50) inequality rising steadily and lower tail (50/10) inequality either flattening or compressing for the next 16 years (1987...
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A large literature documents a substantial rise in U. S. wage inequality and educational wage differentials over the past several decades and finds that these trends can be primarily accounted for by shifts in the supply of and demand for skills reinforced by the erosion of labor market institutions affecting the wages of low- and middle-wage worke...
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The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) demonstration assigned housing vouchers via random lottery to public housing residents in five cities. We use the exogenous variation in residential locations generated by MTO to estimate neighborhood effects on youth crime and delinquency. The offer to relocate to lower-poverty areas reduces arrests among female you...
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We develop a model in which a worker's skills determine the worker's current wage and sector. The market and the worker are initially uncertain about some of the worker's skills. Endogenous wage changes and sector mobility occur as labor market participants learn about these unobserved skills. We show how the model can be estimated using nonlinear...
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Several important social science literatures hinge on the functional relationship between neighborhood characteristics and individual outcomes. Although there have been numerous non-experimental estimates of these relationships, there are serious concerns about their reliability because individuals self-select into neighborhoods. This paper uses da...