Equitable Growth’s new Nonresident Scholars have a long history of rigorous economic research

on Jun19
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The Washington Center for Equitable Growth today launched our new Nonresident Scholars program. This is our latest way of connecting academics to policymakers to ensure public policy debates are grounded in economic evidence. The researchers in this program will serve as go-to resources for media and policymakers on a variety of issues, from tax policy to family and labor policy to macroeconomic trends.

The 2024 Nonresident Scholars cohort includes 11 researchers from Equitable Growth’s academic network spanning disciplines, institutions, and career stages. These scholars will be available to offer analysis on timely developments in their fields of expertise. They have a long history of rigorous economic research at the intersection of inequality and growth—expertise that will enable them to respond to events and help guide policy discussions.

Below, we detail each of the scholars’ research background and highlight some of their recent work, including what they’ve studied and written about for Equitable Growth.

Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat
Barnard College

Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat is the Mallya Professor of Women and Economics at Barnard College and a 2019 Equitable Growth grantee. Her research focuses on the causes and consequences of intergenerational transmission of poverty and inequality. Ananat’s work on schedule stability shows that Fair Workweek laws benefit workers and improve their health and sleep quality without sacrificing the number of hours they work each week. Her surveys of workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside work examining racial disparities in access to Unemployment Insurance, highlights the importance of investing in social infrastructure to support workers and bolster the broader economy.

Carlos Fernando Avenancio-León
University of California, San Diego

Carlos Fernando Avenancio-León is an assistant professor of finance at the University of California, San Diego and a 2018 Equitable Growth grantee. His work looks at how complex institutional structures mask or generate inequality, with a particular focus on the relationship between political or financial institutions and economic redistribution among disadvantaged populations. Recently, he examined how strong unions reduce risky debt among U.S. firms, thereby also lowering the risks of unemployment for U.S. workers. His study on property tax assessments shows vast inequality for Black and Latino homeowners, who face a heavier local property tax burden than their White neighbors. Another study of his focuses on how the Voting Rights Act affects economic inequality in the United States, finding that the landmark legislation significantly narrowed the wage gap between Black and White men, particularly in the South, between 1950 and 1980.

Arindrajit Dube
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Arindrajit Dube is the Provost Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a 2018 and 2021 Equitable Growth grantee. His research focuses on labor economics, looking at minimum wage policies, monopsony in the labor market, wages and nonwage workplace benefits, and fairness concerns in the workplace. His work on Unemployment Insurance amid the COVID-19 pandemic finds that states’ rapid withdrawals from the emergency expanded UI program in 2021 reduced the receipt of unemployment benefits by 36.3 percentage points while only raising employment by 6.8 percentage points. Several of his papers on the minimum wage and its effect on low-wage jobs, as well as on the distribution of family income, show that higher minimum wages benefit low-wage workers and boost their household incomes without reducing the overall number of low-wage jobs.

Janet Gornick
CUNY Graduate Center

Janet Gornick is the director of the Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality and a professor of political science and sociology at the City University of New York Graduate Center. Her areas of expertise are in gender and work, income inequality, and social infrastructure policy. Her recent work on the gender wage gap compares earnings disparities for women in 12 countries based on their educational achievement, finding that the wage gap is persistent despite gains in educational attainment among women. Gornick’s 2022 co-authored book on mobility details 23 studies on income and wealth inequality to tease out the latest research and developments in income and wealth distribution analysis.

Andria Smythe
Howard University

Andria Smythe is an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at Howard University and a 2020 and 2022 Equitable Growth grantee. Her research focuses on student debt and labor market outcomes, public investments in higher education, recessions and labor market inequality, intergenerational disparities in upward mobility, and the impacts of intergenerational transfers of wealth and wealth-building opportunities. Smythe also has written on the future returns to attending college, particularly looking at long-term outcomes and well-being for those who go to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. She finds that HBCU students are more likely to receive a bachelor’s degree and have higher incomes at age 30 than those who do not enroll in HBCUs.

Nirupama Rao
University of Michigan

Nirupama Rao is an assistant professor of business economics and public policy at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and a 2019 Equitable Growth grantee. Her work centers on the economic effects of fiscal policy, with a particular eye toward the impact of policy on firm production, investment, and pricing decisions. Her research examining whether tax credits work to stimulate research-and-development spending finds that the average firm does increase R&D spending over time as it gets cheaper to do so. Her other work examines how regulation and taxation interact in alcohol and other “sin product” markets such as sugary beverages and cigarettes, and how low-income, older, and less educated households bear the brunt of these “sin taxes” with implications for policymaking.

Daniel Reck
University of Maryland

Daniel Reck is an assistant professor of economics at the University of Maryland and a 2018 Equitable Growth grantee. His research interests include tax evasion and behavioral welfare economics. Reck’s ongoing work on tax evasion at the top of the income distribution finds that the wealthiest Americans use extremely sophisticated means of evading taxes, resulting in significant underestimates of their incomes and thus underpayment of taxes among the rich. In another paper, he reviews research on tax evasion and avoidance, and ways the IRS can combat this problem by investing in tax enforcement efforts, particularly aimed at offshore evasion and exploitation of grey areas in tax law.

Jacob Robbins
University of Illinois at Chicago

Jacob Robbins is an assistant professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, as well as a former Equitable Growth dissertation scholar and a 2016, 2020, and 2021 Equitable Growth grantee. His areas of focus are inequality and macroeconomics, specifically using theory and data to understand key economic trends such as monopoly power and secular stagnation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, his work using real-time data to monitor spending inequality enables policymakers to react to how consumers are acting during a crisis compared to their habits beforehand so that policies can effectively intervene and reduce economic hardships. He recently developed a model of recessions using fluctuations in optimism or pessimism about future output, or animal spirits.

Jesse Rothstein
University of California, Berkeley

Jesse Rothstein is a professor of public policy and economics at the University of California, Berkeley and a 2018 Equitable Growth grantee. His research examines education policy, tax and transfers, and the labor market. Recently, he has focused on school finance, intergenerational mobility, and regional and industry wage differentials. Rothstein’s work on social infrastructure programs and the benefits of the public provision of care and social insurance shows that a greater public role in protecting families would improve U.S. families’ living standards and boost the overall U.S. economy. His work on the Great Recession and its longer-term impacts on U.S. workers highlights the importance of strong public policies in the face of downturns to prevent scarring and other economic ramifications.

Mark Zandi
Moody’s Analytics

Mark Zandi is the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, where he directs economic research. His research interests lie in macroeconomics, financial markets, and public policy, with a recent focus on mortgage finance reform and the determinants of mortgage foreclosures and personal bankruptcy. He also analyzes the economic impact of various tax and government spending policies, as well as appropriate monetary policy responses to economic activity and the disconnect between consumer sentiment and economic statistics. Lately, he has also written about the housing affordability crisis in the United States, offering policymakers suggestions that would increase housing supply and reduce the high cost of housing.

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