Freeman, Richard B.

Ashley Nunes, Laurena Huh, Nicole Kagan, and Richard B. Freeman. 8/9/2021. “Estimating the energy impact of electric, autonomous taxis: Evidence from a select market”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Electric, autonomous vehicles promise to address technical consumption inefficiencies associated with gasoline use and reduce emissions. Potential realization of this prospect has prompted considerable interest and investment in the technology. Using publicly available data from a select market, we examine the magnitude of the envisioned benefits and the determinants of the financial payoff of investing in a tripartite innovation in motor vehicle transportation: vehicle electrification, vehicle automation, and vehicle sharing. In contrast to previous work, we document that 1) the technology's envisioned cost effectiveness may be impeded by previously unconsidered parameters, 2) the inability to achieve cost parity with the status quo does not necessarily preclude net increases in energy consumption and emissions, 3) these increases are driven primarily by induced demand and mode switches away from pooled personal vehicles, and 4) the aforementioned externalities may be mitigated by leveraging a specific set of technological, behavioral and logistical pathways. We quantify – for the first time – the thresholds required for each of these pathways to be effective and demonstrate that pathway stringency is largely influenced by heterogeneity in trip timing behavior. We conclude that enacting these pathways is crucial to fostering environmental stewardship absent impediments in economic mobility.
From Immigrants to Robots: The Changing Locus of Substitutes for Workers
Richard B. Freeman and George J. Borjas. 1/2019. “From Immigrants to Robots: The Changing Locus of Substitutes for Workers”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Increased use of robots has roused concern about how robots and other new technologies change the world of work. Using numbers of robots shipped to primarily manufacturing industries as a supply shock to an industry labor market, we estimate that an additional robot reduces employment and wages in an industry by roughly as much as an additional 2 to 3 workers and by 3 to 4 workers in particular groups, which far exceed estimated effects of an additional immigrant on employment and wages. While the growth of robots in the 1996-2016 period of our data was too modest to be a major determinant of wages and employment, the estimated coefficients suggest that continued exponential growth of robots could disrupt job markets in the foreseeable future and thus merit attention from labor analysts.
U.S. Engineering in a Global Economy: National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report
5/4/2018. U.S. Engineering in a Global Economy: National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report, Pp. 320. University of Chicago Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Since the late 1950s, the engineering job market in the United States has been fraught with fears of a shortage of engineering skill and talent. U.S. Engineering in a Global Economy brings clarity to issues of supply and demand in this important market. Following a general overview of engineering-labor market trends, the volume examines the educational pathways of undergraduate engineers and their entry into the labor market, the impact of engineers working in firms on productivity and innovation, and different dimensions of the changing engineering labor market, from licensing to changes in demand and guest worker programs.

The volume provides insights on engineering education, practice, and careers that can inform educational institutions, funding agencies, and policy makers about the challenges facing the United States in developing its engineering workforce in the global economy.
Willingness to Pay for Clean Air in China
Richard Freeman, Wenquan Liang, Ran Song, and Christopher Timmins. 12/2017. “Willingness to Pay for Clean Air in China”. NBER Working PaperAbstract
We develop a residential sorting model incorporating migration disutility to recover the implicit value of clean air in China. The model is estimated using China Population Census Data along with PM2.5 satellite data. Our study provides new evidence on the willingness to pay for air quality improvement in developing countries and is the first application of an equilibrium sorting model to the valuation of non-market amenities in China. We employ two novel instrumental variables based on coal-fired electricity generation and wind direction to address the endogeneity of local air pollution. Results suggest important differences between the residential sorting model and a conventional hedonic model, highlighting the role of moving costs and the discreteness of the choice set. Our sorting results indicate that the economic value of air quality improvement associated with a one-unit decline in PM2.5 concentration is up to $8.83 billion for all Chinese households in 2005.
The Effects of Scientists and Engineers on Productivity and Earnings at the Establishment Where They Work
Erling Barth, James C. Davis, Richard B. Freeman, and Andrew J. Wang. 6/2017. “The Effects of Scientists and Engineers on Productivity and Earnings at the Establishment Where They Work.” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper, No. 23484. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This paper uses linked establishment-firm-employee data to examine the relationship between the scientists and engineers proportion (SEP) of employment, and productivity and labor earnings. We show that: (1) most scientists and engineers in industry are employed in establishments producing goods or services, and do not perform research and development (R&D); (2) productivity is higher in manufacturing establishments with higher SEP, and increases with increases in SEP; (3) employee earnings are higher in manufacturing establishments with higher SEP, and increase substantially for employees who move to establishments with higher SEP, but only modestly for employees within an establishment when SEP increases in the establishment. The results suggest that the work of scientists and engineers in goods and services producing establishments is an important pathway for increasing productivity and earnings, separate and distinct from the work of scientists and engineers who perform R&D.
It’s Where You Work: Increases in the Dispersion of Earnings across Establishments and Individuals in the United States.
Erling Barth, Alex Bryson, James C. Davis, and Richard B. Freeman. 2016. “It’s Where You Work: Increases in the Dispersion of Earnings across Establishments and Individuals in the United States.” Journal of Labor Economics, Special Issue dedicated to Edward Lazear, 34, S2, Pp. S67-S97. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This paper analyzes the role of establishments in the upward trend in dispersion of earnings that has become a central topic in economic analysis and policy debate. It decomposes changes in the variance of log earnings among individuals into the part due to changes in earnings among establishments and the part due to changes in earnings within establishments. The main finding is that much of the 1970s–2010s increase in earnings inequality results from increased dispersion of the earnings among the establishments where individuals work. Our results direct attention to the role of establishment-level pay setting and economic adjustments in earnings inequality.

“How Does Declining Unionism Affect the American Middle Class and Inter-generational Mobility?”
Richard B. Freeman, Eunice Han, Brendan Duke, and David Madland. 2016. ““How Does Declining Unionism Affect the American Middle Class and Inter-generational Mobility?”” Federal Reserve Bank, 2015 Community Development Research Conference Publication.Abstract
This paper examines unionism’s relationship to the size of the middle class and its
relationship to intergenerational mobility. Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) 1985
and 2011 files are used to examine the change in the share of workers in a middle-income
group (defined by persons having incomes within 50 percent of the median) and use a
shift-share decomposition to explore how the decline of unionism contributes to the
shrinking middle class. The files are also used to investigate the correlation between
parents’ union status and the incomes of their children. Additionally, federal income tax
data is used to examine the geographical correlation between union density and
intergenerational mobility. Findings include that union workers are disproportionately in
the middle-income group or above, and some reach middle-income status due to the
union wage premium; the offspring of union parents have higher incomes than the
offspring of otherwise comparable non-union parents, especially when the parents are
low-skilled; and offspring from communities with higher union density have higher
average incomes relative to their parents compared to offspring from communities with
lower union density. These findings show a strong, though not necessarily causal, link
between unions, the middle class, and intergenerational mobility. 
Immigration, International Collaboration, and Innovation: Science and Technology Policy in the Global Economy
Richard B. Freeman. 2015. “Immigration, International Collaboration, and Innovation: Science and Technology Policy in the Global Economy .” In NBER book: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 15, edited by William R. Kerr, Josh Lerner, and Scott Stern, Pp. 153 - 175. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Globalization of scientific and technological knowledge has reduced the US share of world scientific activity; increased the foreign-born proportion of scientists and engineers in US universities and in the US labor market; and led to greater US scientific collaborations with other countries. China's massive investments in university education and R&D have in particular made it a special partner for the US in scientific work. These developments have substantial implications for US science and technology policy. This paper suggests that aligning immigration policies more closely to the influx of international students; granting fellowships to students working on turning scientific and technological into commercial innovations; and requiring firms with R&D tax credits or other government R&D funding develop "impact plans" to use their new knowledge to produce innovative products or processes in the US could help the country adjust to the changing global world of science and technology.
Richard B. Freeman. 6/24/2015. “Knowledge, Knowledge. Knowledge for My Economy.” KDI Journal of Economic Policy, vol. 37, (2), Pp. 1-21. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The creation of S&T knowledge and development of S&T- based innovation has spread worldwide from traditionally advanced countries to traditionally developing countries, often under the direction of governments. Korea is an exemplar in this new locus. 
Richard B. Freeman and Xiaoying Li. 12/2015. “How Does China’s New Labor Contract Law Affect Floating Workers?” British Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 53, 4, Pp. 711-735. PDF VersionAbstract
China’s new Labor Contract Law took effect on January 2008 and required firms to give migrant workers written contracts, strengthened labor protections for workers and contained penalties for firms that did not follow the labor code. This paper uses survey data of migrant workers in the Pearl River Delta before and after the law and a retrospective question on when workers received their first labor contract to assess the effects of the law on labor outcomes. The evidence shows that the new law increased the percentage of migrant workers with written contracts, which in turn raised social insurance coverage, reduced the likelihood of wage arrears, and raised the likelihood that the worker had a union at their workplace.

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