• Nobel-winning economist Michael Kremer to join department faculty as University Professor

     

    Photo by Jon Chase/Harvard University

    Photo by Jon Chase/Harvard University

    Nobel Prize-winning economist Michael Kremer has been appointed University Professor at the University of Chicago and will join our department faculty.

    A pioneer in development economics who has shaped the discipline through the use of field experiments to inform economic models, policy and program development, Kremer shared the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in 2019. He has been most recently at Harvard University, where he serves as the Gates Professor of Developing Societies in the Department of Economics.

    Kremer’s appointment at UChicago will be effective on Sept. 1. He also will hold a secondary appointment at the Harris School of Public Policy.

    “Michael is a scholar of extraordinary vision and accomplishment. His research has had an enormous influence on his field, and has been impactful in informing public policy in developing countries,” said Ka Yee C. Lee, provost and the David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry. “We are delighted to welcome Michael to the University of Chicago. The range of his research will undoubtedly lead to collaborations across divisions and schools.”

    University Professors are among those recruited at a senior level from outside the University, and are selected for internationally recognized eminence in their fields as well as for their potential for high impact across the University. Kremer will become the 23rd person to hold a University Professorship, and the 10th active faculty member holding that title.

    “The University of Chicago’s commitment to expanding research on development economics is an exceptional opportunity,” Kremer said. “The work ahead will develop new knowledge on ways to address global poverty and ultimately to do good for the world.

    Kremer was among the first economists to evaluate interventions in developing countries through randomized control trials. In 1998, he evaluated a project on deworming in Kenya. By comparing schools that had already been phased into treatment for intestinal worms with those that had not yet been phased into the program, he and his collaborators found that the program reduced student absenteeism by a quarter—and even reduced transmission of the disease to neighboring schools. Subsequent work also found that deworming had long-run impacts, leading to higher living standards 20 years later.

    “Michael’s research and its resulting policy impacts in economic development, health, education and technological innovation has been transformative at a global scale,” said Amanda Woodward, dean of the Division of the Social Sciences and the William S. Gray Distinguished Service Professor of Psychology. “We look forward to the next revolutionary phases of Michael’s work. He will be a foundational force for the future of Griffin Economics as well as for the broad community of economists at the University of Chicago.”

    Through the nonprofit organization Evidence Action and its private sector and government partners, Kremer’s work has now helped provide free deworming treatments to 280 million children. The World Health Organization recommends large-scale deworming as the most cost-effective way to improve children’s health and nutrition.

    “All of Michael’s work is grounded in theory and built around a coherent set of ideas interrogating what we can learn from economics,” said Rob Shimer, chair of the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics and the Alvin H. Baum Professor in Economics. “His extraordinary contributions to the field of economics and to improving human welfare are testament to the power of his methodological innovations.”

    In addition to that research, Kremer helped develop the advance market commitment, proposing the idea of a contract that would guarantee that if firms developed vaccines for diseases affecting the developing world meeting certain technological specifications, donors would help cover the cost of purchasing the product. Such commitments have stimulated private investment in vaccine research and the distribution of vaccines for diseases in the developing world. A $1.5 billion commitment by a consortium of donors led to the development and distribution of vaccines covering the strains of pneumococcal diseases common in the developing world, saving an estimated 700,000 lives.

    “Michael’s landmark work has not only advanced the field but has had enormous real-world impact,” said Katherine Baicker, dean and the Emmett Dedmon Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy. “His work has resulted in billions of dollars being devoted towards malaria and pneumococcal vaccines focused on the strains prevalent in developing countries. Few economists have saved so many lives around the world.”

    While changes in broad-scale government programs have long provided economists with natural experiments to inform their models, Kremer and his colleagues developed an iterative strategy that engages—and in some instances, founds—NGOs to deliver social programs that implement and test economic ideas. This approach can reveal the causal forces at play in economic systems, shedding light where observational data cannot. It also offers a proving ground for developing and perfecting effective policies and programs.

    At UChicago, Kremer will lead a new Development Innovation Lab, an initiative that will sit within the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics.

    “I am excited to join the University of Chicago, with its storied tradition of pioneering economics research,” Kremer said. “The new lab will use the tools of economics to develop innovations of practical use for developing countries. By bringing together experts in different fields and working closely with nonprofit organizations, firms and governments in the developing world, we can simultaneously advance knowledge and generate solutions to development challenges which can reach hundreds of millions of people.”

    “Michael’s work simultaneously pushes out the frontier of understanding and has had enormous and lasting impacts on people’s well-being,” said Michael Greenstone, director of the Becker Friedman Institute and the Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics. “He is the perfect person to lead the Development Innovation Lab at BFI, and I know he will catalyze the terrific development economics here into even greater heights, with the ultimate beneficiaries being the field of economics and the world.”

    Kremer is the author of more than 120 academic articles and book chapters. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a 1997 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. He has won awards for his work on health economics, agricultural economics and on Latin America.

    Kremer earned his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1992. He was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Chicago in Spring Quarter 1993. Prior to his appointment at Harvard, he was a member of the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1993 to 1999.

    For more information, please see https://news.uchicago.edu/story/nobel-winning-economist-michael-kremer-join-uchicago-faculty-university-professor.

     

  • Akcigit and Mogstad Named Econometric Society Fellows

    The Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics congratulates Ufuk Akcigit, The Arnold C. Harberger Professor in Economics and the College, and Magne Mogstad, The Gary S. Becker Professor in Economics and the college, on being named Econometric Society Fellows. 

    Man in suit smilingAs a macroeconomist, Akcigit’s research centers on economic growth, technological creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, productivity, and firm dynamics. His research has been repeatedly published in the top economics journals such as the Journal of Political Economy, Econometrica, the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and the Review of Economic Studies. In 2018, Akcigit was named the winner of the prestigious Max Planck-Humboldt Research Award in recognition of his outstanding achievements in the field of macroeconomics and in 2021, he was named a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

     

    Picture of a manMogstad is the Director of the Ronzetti Initiative for the Study of Labor Markets at the Becker Friedman Institute at the University of Chicago. His research spans Labor economics, public economics, and the analysis of social mobility and inequality. He has published extensively in leading scholarly journals. He is a current co-editor of the Journal of Political Economy, and he previously served as a co-editor of the Journal of Public Economics and a foreign editor of the Review of Economic Studies. He is a recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, the 2017 IZA Young Labor Economist Award, and the 2020 Sherwin Rosen Prize for outstanding contributions the field of labor economics.

         
  • Recent Ph.D. Graduate, Ezra Karger, Receives 2021 APPAM Ph.D. Dissertation Award Honorable Mention

    Man smiling in front of forestRecent Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics Ph.D. graduate, Ezra Karger, was selected as an honorable mention recipient for the 2021 Association of Public Policy and Management (APPAM) PhD Dissertation Award for his dissertation, Essays on the Measurement of Income in Economic Analysis. Karger is an economist in the microeconomics research group at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in Spring 2021. 

    APPAM recognizes emergent scholars in the field by presenting an award for the best Ph.D. dissertation in public policy and management. To be eligible, nominees must have completed their dissertations in the academic years 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 and been granted a degree during that period. According to the APPAM submission guidelines, “Dissertations from any discipline were acceptable as long as they dealt substantively with public policy issues and were nominated by a faculty member from an APPAM institutional member university.” Ezra was nominated by Dan A. Black, professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

    Derek Neal, the William C. Norby Professor in Economics, said of Karger’s dissertation:

    It is hard to demonstrate a causal link between giving children access to a library and adult outcomes in their lives. However, Ezra continued to acquire, build, and clean new data sets. He found ways to improve matching procedures and perform informative robustness checks. He even built what may be the first complete census of US high schools for the early 20th century. In the end, his tireless efforts to obtain more and better data allowed him to show that early library access improves educational attainment and fosters entry into safer and more prestigious occupations.

    The award winner of the 2021 APPAM Ph.D. Dissertation Award, George Zuo, will be recognized along with Karger and other honorable mentions at the 2021 APPAM Fall Research Conference Membership & Awards Breakfast, tentatively scheduled for November 11-13. Karger was also invited to participate in a poster session at the conference.

     

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