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Traditionally, labor economics studies how employers and employees respond to changes in wages, profits, prices and working conditions. Over the past two decades, labor economists have expanded the scope of their research to include much of applied economics. The areas of research spanned by our labor economists include crime, economics of the family, education, discrimination, and other traditional labor topics. Over the last few decades, a major divide arose within labor economics with some labor economists emphasizing the value of natural (and actual) experiments, while others estimating models linked to economic theory. At the University of Michigan, we have labor economists doing both kinds of work, and we get along with each other! In fact, we pride ourselves in being diverse in terms of methods we use, and topics we study.



Primary Appointment outside the Economics Department

School of Information

Ford School of Public Policy & Department of Economics (courtesy)

Institute for Social Research

School of Education & Department of Economics (courtesy)

Ford School of Public Policy & Department of Economics (courtesy)

Recent Graduate Student Placement Locations

Fed Board

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

Stanford University

George Washington University

University of Arizona

Vanderbilt University


University of Kentucky


University of Delaware

University of Memphis

American University 


College Board (2)

American Institutes for Research

Ford Motor Company

Yale (postdoc)

SOLO World Partners





Urban Institute



US Census

US Treasury

Seminars, Reading Groups, Lunches, etc.

Labor Lunch, Student Seminar (Thursdays)

Labor Seminar (Wednesday afternoons)

Selected Recent Publications

Bleakley, “Thick-market effects and churning in the labor market: Evidence from US cities,” Journal of Urban Economics, 2012. (Joint with Lin.)

Bound, “Reservoir of foreign talent," Science, 2017. (Joint with Khanna & Morales.) 

Bound, “The Declining Labor Market Prospects of Less-Educated Men,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2019. (Joint with Binder.)

Brown, “The Effects of Respondents’ Consent to be Recorded on Interview Length and Data Quality in a National Panel Study.” Field Methods, 2015. (Joint with McGonagle & Schoeni.)

Craig, “Complementary Bias: A Model of Two-Sided Statistical Discrimination,” National Bureau of Economic Research, 2017. (Joint with Fryer Jr.)

Lam, “How the World Survived the Population Bomb: Lessons from Fifty Years of Extraordinary Demographic History,” Demography, 2011.

Lam, “Is There a Male Breadwinner Norm? The Hazards of Inferring Preferences from Marriage Market Outcomes,” Journal of Human Resources, 2020. (Joint with Binder.)

McCall, "Employment and Job Search Implications of the Extended Weeks and Working While on Claim Pilot Initiatives," Canadian Public Policy/Analyse de Politiques, 2019. (Joint with Lluis.)

Mueller-Smith, “Diversion in the Criminal Justice System,” The Review of Economic Studies, 2020. (Joint with Schnepel.)

Reynoso, “Education Quality and Teaching Practices,” Economic Journal, 2020. (Joint with Bassi & Meghir.)

Reynoso, “The impact of divorce laws on the equilibrium in the marriage market,” in submission.

Stephens, “Compulsory Education and the Benefits of Schooling,” American Economic Review, 2014. (Joint with Yang.)

Stephens, “Disability Benefit Take-Up and Local Labor Market Conditions,” Review of Economics and Statistics, 2018. (Joint with Charles & Li.)

Stevenson and Wolfers, “Subjective and Objective Indicators of Racial Progress,” Journal of Legal Studies, 2012.

Zafar,“Biases in Information Selection and Processing: Survey Evidence from the Pandemic” Review of Economics and Statistics, Forthcoming. (Joint with Faia, Fuster, and Pezone).
Zafar,"What Would You Do with $500? Spending Responses to Gains, Losses, News, and Loans " Review of Economic Studies, 2021. (Joint with Fuster, and Kaplan).
Zafar,"Human Capital and Expectations about Career and Family" Journal of Political Economy, 2021. (Joint with Wiswall).