Joseph Altonji wins IZA Prize in Labor Economics

Joseph Altonji portrait
05/18/2018

By Michael Cummings

Yale economist Joseph Altonji has been awarded the 2018 IZA Prize in Labor Economics to recognize his seminal contributions to the economic analysis of labor supply, family economics, and discrimination.

“Altonji’s contributions have shaped the understanding of how households decide on their labor supply under fluctuating business cycles and changing labor markets, whether the family is the relevant unit of economic decision making, and what the mechanisms behind labor market discrimination are,” the award citation states. “An overarching theme of his work is that even the most insightful and fundamental theoretical advances must be supported by rigorous empirical evidence.”

Awarded every two years by the Bonn-based Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), the IZA Prize is meant to stimulate research that seeks answers to the important labor market policy questions of our time.  It will be formally conferred during IZA’s 20th anniversary celebrations in Berlin on June 28. Previous recipients include renowned economists such as Dale Mortensen and Christopher Pissarides, who each later received the Nobel Prize.

The IZA Prize Committee consists of seven distinguished economists, six of whom are previous IZA Prize recipients.

“Picking Joe Altonji as this year’s IZA Prize winner was an obvious choice. His profound contributions to several important areas of labor economics — his concern about taking economic theory and measurement seriously — made the selection committee’s job very easy,” said IZA network director Daniel Hamermesh, who chairs the committee.

Altonji ’75 B.A., the Thomas DeWitt Cuyler Professor of Economics, studies questions concerning immigration, race, and gender in the labor market, wage determination, labor supply, and economic links among family members.

In July, he will assume the role of president of the Society of Labor Economists, a professional organization composed of nearly 800 members that promotes the field of labor economics. He is an elected fellow of the Econometric Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has served on a number of government advisory panels, and currently is a member of the U.S. Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee and the National Science Foundation’s Social, Behavior and Economic Sciences Advisory Committee. He is a research associate at IZA as well as at the National Bureau of Economic Research.