Derek Neal: From Myrdal to Smith and Welch to ??: The Path of Socioeconomic Progress for African-Americans.


Monday, October 31, 2016, 12:00pm to 1:45pm


Harvard Kennedy School: Allison Dining Room

Derek A. NealProfessor of Economics and Committee on Education, University of Chicago

During most of the 20th century, blacks made steady progress relative to whites in the US.  However, black labor market outcomes are not much better now, relative to whites, than they were in 1970.  Further, racial skills gaps among teenagers are comparable to those observed in 1990.

The logic of models of the inter-generational transmission of human capital suggests that convergence should have continued.  I discuss one change in policy that may have slowed this convergence.  The prison boom that occurred beginning in the late 1970s had dramatic impacts on black communities.  I show that this trends was not driven by economic forces but by policy choices.  Future work must find ways to assess how these policy choices may have affected black relative economic progress.

About the speaker

Derek Neal is a Professor in the Department of Economics and a member of the Committee on Education at the University of Chicago.

Professor Nealʼs current research focuses on the design of incentive systems for educators. His work explores the design flaws in current performance pay and accountability systems and also highlights the advantages of providing incentives through contests between schools.

Neal is also exploring the causes and consequences of the prison boom in the United States. He is particularly focused on why prison populations grew so rapidly during recent decades and how the changes in policy that drove this growth affect inequality in the United States. Further, Neal is examining the links between home and school experiences of youth and future outcomes in the labor market and the criminal justice system.

Derek Neal is a recipient of the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2016; Fellow, Society of Labor Economists, 2008; President of the Midwest Economics Association, 2009-10; Former Co-Editor, Journal of Human Resources; Former Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Labor Economics; and Former Editor, Journal of Political Economy.

See also: Fall 2016