People are confronted with a variety of risks in the course of their lives and the lives of their dependents. How can markets be organized to protect people against risks such as illness, displacement and disability while at the same time provide them with incentives and opportunities to be educated, secure jobs and remain in good physical and emotional health? How can government programs be structured to effectively find the delicate balance between insurance and incentives?
University of Minnesota faculty and alumni have been at the forefront of economic research that falls within this broad umbrella of topics including healthcare, Social Security, disability insurance, bankruptcy law, education and income inequality. The Institute aims to further the economic analysis of these topics by funding research and communicating its policy implications to the greater public.
For more than a quarter century, the U.S. social safety net has been designed to nudge indigent heads of households onto payrolls. But in the case of welfare participants, the short-term virtues of joining the paid labor force may undermine their children’s long-term success in life. At a cost to the next generation – and to society, at large. The latest research by Joseph Mullins, U of M assistant professor of economics, suggests the cash payment “safety net” needs a major overhaul to maximize its role as an investment in children. Read the full policy brief.
Decades of research clearly show substantial public and private benefits of early childhood education. But translating those findings into well-funded public programs to nurture children from the womb to age 4 has proven a greater challenge. A recent Heller-Hurwicz roundtable on transforming limited trials into widespread public policy illustrated the promise and problems of selling early childhood education to political leaders. Read the policy brief highlighting research by the panelists.
Does parental investment in a child’s early life affect the child’s future as an adult? In what ways does it affect the child? How would parental investment contribute to a child’s economic well-being? These are all questions we aim to answer by examining the trends of how different parental features affect children’s behavior and future economic success. Read the research insight written by undergraduate research assistant Huda Osman.
The idea of the gig economy has risen in prominence along with companies like Uber and Lyft. These companies started in the early 2010s and have fundamentally changed how transportation works in cities over the last decade. Uber and Lyft and other companies like Upwork and Fivver use what economists call contingent workers: workers hired on a temporary or non-permanent basis. Contingent work has always been a part of modern economics. Large corporations or private businesses routinely hire freelancers and consultants, and any homeowner knows the value of a good contractor. Doctoral student Tobey Kass, an Economics Ph.D. candidate explores the role contingent workers play in the economy and how public policy should adjust to the rise of the gig economy.
Why are Americans continuing to work into their late 60s? To what extent do the changes in the Social Security program rules account for the rise of the labor supply of older workers? In her working paper, graduate student Zhixiu Yu seeks to answer these, and related questions.