Nishaad Rao recently received the James Morgan Award from the Institute for Social Research (ISR) for Fall 2021. This award was established by James Morgan, a founding member of the ISR, and his family to encourage University of Michigan graduate students to use Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) data in new and original ways.

Rao will use the PSID as his main data source for his project, “Local Labor Markets and Wealth Inequality in the United States.” The ISR PSID follows families over many years, and collects detailed information about demographics, income, and wealth. “For my project, this is especially useful because this allows me to see what happens to a set of families over a long time horizon, which is necessary for questions about wealth. Specifically, I aim to establish some basic facts about how wealth inequality has evolved over the last few decades in the United States, particularly if there has been a regional divergence in wealth driven by home equity. I will try to relate these patterns to trends in local labor markets and housing market conditions. Finally, I aim to put all this within the context of a theoretical economic model in order to try and make some policy suggestions,” Rao said.

The James Morgan award provides a full semester of funding equivalent to a .5 GSIship, candidate-level tuition and GradCare. “Because of the award, I can focus completely on my project, and quantify the extent to which place matters for wealth inequality. Further, I hope to be able to make policy suggestions as to how we can mitigate the effect of place on wealth inequality. For instance, one solution could be to provide more housing by easing housing restrictions in cities. This would mean more people can move to a good labor market area without house prices being too high,” Rao said.

Originally from Rajkot, India, Nishaad Rao earned a B.S. in Physics and Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he also received his M.S. in Economics. When he came to Ann Arbor in 2016, he was most interested in labor and public finance. “I was broadly interested in studying economic inequality and intergenerational mobility. I am still keen on learning more about the economic processes that lead to persistent inequality and policies that can address them, and my current project reflects that.”

To learn more about the James Morgan award, please click here.