I am a Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. I am the director of the Harvard Inequality and Social Policy program.
My research focuses broadly on the economics of skill development, education and the labor market. Along with Raj Chetty and John Friedman, I have started the CLIMB (Collegiate Leaders in Increasing MoBility) initiative, a partnership between researchers, policymakers and a diverse group of U.S. colleges and universities. CLIMB's goal is to understand the role of higher education in fostering social mobility. We are linking data from hundreds of institutional partners to data on earnings and other long-run outcomes. Our kickoff conference was on October 30th on the campus of UT-Austin.
College Access and College Quality
Stay tuned for more research coming out of the CLIMB Initiative.
I have a new paper with Chris Walters called "The Impacts of Price and Spending Subsidies on U.S. Postsecondary Attainment." Here is a recent non-technical summary of the paper in the NBER digest
The abstract is below:
Increasing the postsecondary attainment rate of college-age youth is an important economic priority in the U.S. and in other developed countries. Yet little is known about whether different forms of public subsidy can increase degree completion. In this paper, we compare the impact of the marginal taxpayer dollar on postsecondary attainment when it is spent on lowering tuition prices versus increasing the quality of the college experience. We do so by estimating the causal impact of changes in tuition and spending on enrollment and degree completion in U.S. public postsecondary institutions between 1990 and 2013. We estimate these impacts using a newly assembled data set of legislative tuition caps and freezes, combined with variation in exposure to state budget shocks that is driven by differences in historical reliance on state appropriations. We find large impacts of spending on enrollment and degree completion. In contrast, we find no impact of price changes. Our estimates suggest that spending increases are more effective per-dollar than price cuts as a means of increasing postsecondary attainment.
I recently wrote a paper for The Hamilton Project that proposes a Federal matching grant to support higher education spending in states that commit to providing tuition-free college.
My recent paper "The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labor Market" is forthcoming in the Quarterly Journal of Economics. The final pre-publication version is here. A complete replication package with data, programs and a readme file can be found here.
In related work with Lisa Kahn, I show that social skill requirements in job ads are positively correlated with average pay and firm performance, even within occupation and industry categories.
I recently wrote an overview article for the NBER Reporter called "The Value of Soft Skills in the Labor Market."
The Market Structure of U.S. Higher Education
I have several papers and projects in progress about online degree programs, for-profit colleges, college accountability and other related topics in U.S. higher education.
Claudia Goldin, Larry Katz and Noam Yuchtman and I show that prices for online degree programs have fallen sharply over the last decade, despite rising prices for in-person degree programs. We also conducted a resume audit study of the returns to post-secondary degrees, including degrees from online for-profit colleges.
Mike Lovenheim, Rich Patterson and I show evidence that competition from online degree programs lowered enrollment and increased per-student spending in public institutions.
David Figlio and I have written a recent overview paper about accountability in higher education for the Journal of Economic Perspectives.