UM Economics congratulates Professor Jeffrey (Jeff) Smith on being recently elected a “Fellow” of the Society of Labor Economics (SOLE)! In addition to a longstanding membership, Jeff was an editor of the Journal of Labor Economics, their official publication, from 2006-2009, and has been an associate editor since 2009. He quickly earned a reputation as the most thorough (and slowest) editor, a reputation vastly superior to that of careless and fast. This prestigious election was only extended to two labor economists this year through a vote by the stock of existing fellows.

The bulk of Jeff’s work is on the evaluation of government programs. “A lot of my work is on the evaluation methodology, that is, the applied econometrics of evaluating government programs, or how to figure out what would have happened to the participants had they not participated. My substantive applications center on employment and training programs and the labor market effects of college quality.”

Currently, he is wrapping up two projects. The first is a chapter, co-authored with UM Professor Brian McCall and University of Basel Professor Conny Wunsch, in the Handbook of the Economics of Education that reviews the literature on government-subsidized vocational training for adults. The second is a chapter on employment and training programs for an updated version of a book first published 10 years ago for the National Bureau of Economic Research entitled Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States that speaks to the current state of the literature, the facts on the ground and where the literature should be going. (Transfer programs are programs to help the disadvantaged. Means-tested indicates that a person must be disadvantaged to be eligible for the program). This is a joint project with Prof. Burt Barnow from George Washington University. Jeff notes that “employment and training programs are in-kind transfers in a sense, they’re not money like AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children), they’re not health insurance like Medicaid, but there are a bunch of programs that provide job training for the disadvantaged in the US. We survey the long literature on those.”

“I’ll run out of career before I run out of ideas for papers I want to do,” says Jeff. To weed through all of the options, he considers three things: what he is interested in, who he wants to work with, he rarely writes by himself, and how well he believes that the work will be received.

Jeff is a labor economist that has been with UM since 2005. He loves working at UM because, “the labor group is fantastic. We are one of the highest ranked subfields. Part of that is that we have really good labor economists in the department, and part of that is that there are other really good labor economists scattered around all-over campus.”

For more information on Jeff and his work, visit his website!