Research Interests

A primary area of my research in the last few years has been a cross-country comparison of wage rates over time. I have arranged to collect data on a McDonald's crew member in several dozen countries and I now have assembled data on both the recent effects of the financial crisis on wages, but also the implications of these data for various models of growth. I continue this research also with a broader survey of real wages over the last several hundred years. I do not foresee this project being completed for several more years, if ever.
I've now expanded this project to measure wage rates across the US for workers at McDonalds. This provides a clean picture of just how low wage rates in the US are. This project, now in its second year, also permits a measure of the change in the low skilled wage rate in the face of very full employment and has implications for many aspects of poverty as well as the macroeconomic behavior of low skilled labor markets.
At the same time I continue to work on other projects. A second line of research is a longer term study of the economic effects of Prohibition in the U.S. This project will estimate alcohol consumption during Prohibition, and the effects of Prohibition on both crime and health. Since Prohibition was only partially enforced, the first stage effort is necessary to judge any impacts of this natural experiment on other variables.
A third line of research had involved the retrospective estimation of the effects of mergers on product prices. Three papers from this project (estimating price effects of mergers in 5 consumer products markets) have now been published. A review of this literature with an emphasis on Robert Bork's classic book on antitrust is completed and will appear in the Journal of Law and Economics. In the last year I've expanded this project to evaluate the study of several antitrust enforcement efforts designed to halt the collusive suppression of wage rates for nurses.
A fourth line of research has involved a study of the impact of climate change, using my long time interest in wine auctions and prices to focus on the effect of climate change on wine prices and production. A survey of the literature in this field has been commissioned by the Review of Environmental Economics and Policy and has just been published. Further work will examine detailed adaptation that may result from climate change.
A new project studies the substitution/complemetarity of alcohol and opioid consumption. Both are pain relievers and could well be substitutes, despite the often argued case that all "vices" are complementary.

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Section 54: Economic Sciences