Benjamin Malin

Abigail Wozniak

Director, Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute and Senior Research Economist
Personal Website

Labor, urban, and personnel economics

Abigail Wozniak is the first director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’ Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute. Prior to assuming that leadership role in February 2019, she was a tenured associate professor of economics at the University of Notre Dame.

From 2014 to 2015, she was a senior economist for the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

She has been a visiting scholar at the University of Chicago’s Becker-Friedman Institute and a visiting fellow at Princeton University’s Department of Economics and Industrial Relations. She is a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn, Germany.

A native of Green Bay, Wis., Wozniak holds a B.A. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Harvard University.

What Explains the Rising Share of U.S. Men in Registered Nursing?

Working with data from the decadal US Census and the annual American Community Survey (ACS), the authors document four decades of increasing participation in registered nursing among US men and explore reasons for this change. Increasing educational attainment, rising labor demand in health care, rising urbanization, and liberalizing gender role attitudes explain approximately 50% of the growth. Results show that a large component of the increase occurs when men switched into nursing during their 20s and early 30s. Important countervailing factors include poor early labor market conditions and immigrant inflows, both of which are associated with less movement into nursing by men. The authors discuss the implications of their findings for policies that encourage men to take up high growth, non-traditional skilled jobs.

Labor Market Transitions and the Decline in Long-Distance Migration in the US

Interstate migration in the United States has decreased steadily since the 1980s, but little is known about the causes of this decline. We show that declining migration is related to a concurrent secular decline in job changing. Neither trend is primarily due to observable demographic or socioeconomic factors. Rather, we argue that the decline in job changing has caused the decline in migration. After establishing a role for the labor market in declining migration, we turn to the question of why job changing has become less frequent over the past several decades. We find little support for several explanations, including the rise of dual-career households, the decline in middle-skill jobs, occupational licensing, and the need for employees to retain health insurance. Thus, the reasons for these dual trends remain opaque and should be explored further.

The Effects of College Education on Health

We exploit exogenous variation in years of completed college induced by draft-avoidance behavior during the Vietnam War to examine the impact of college on adult mortality. Our estimates imply that increasing college attainment from the level of the state at the 25th percentile of the education distribution to that of the state at the 75th percentile would decrease cumulative mortality for cohorts in our sample by 8 to 10 percent relative to the mean. Most of the reduction in mortality is from deaths due to cancer and heart disease. We also explore potential mechanisms, including differential earnings and health insurance.

Understanding Declining Fluidity in the U.S. Labor Market

We document a clear downward trend in labor market fluidity that is common across a variety of measures of worker and job turnover. This trend dates to at least the early 1980s if not somewhat earlier. Next we pull together evidence on a variety of hypotheses that might explain this downward trend. It is only partly related to population demographics and is not due to the secular shift in industrial composition. Moreover, the decline in labor market fluidity seems unlikely to have been caused by an improvement in worker-firm matching, the formalization of hiring practices, or an increase in land use regulation or other regulations. Plausible avenues for further exploration include changes in the worker-firm relationship, particularly with regard to compensation adjustment; changes in firm characteristics such as firm size and age; and a decline in social trust, which may have increased the cost of job search or made both parties in the hiring process more risk averse.

Discrimination and the Effects of Drug Testing on Black Employment

A common assumption is that the rise of drug testing among U.S. employers must have had negative consequences for black employment. I use variation in the timing and nature of drug testing regulation to identify the impacts of testing on black hiring. I find that adoption of protesting legislation increases black employment in the testing sector by 7% to 30% and relative wages by 1.4% to 13.0%, with the largest shifts among low-skilled black men. The results are consistent with ex ante discrimination and suggest that drug testing may benefit African Americans by enabling nonusing blacks to prove their status to employers.

Racial Differences in Inequality Aversion: Evidence from Real World Respondents in the Ultimatum Game

The distinct historical and cultural experiences of American blacks and whites may influence whether members of these groups perceive a particular exchange as fair. We investigate racial differences in fairness standards using preferences for equal treatment in the ultimatum game. We focus on whether responders choose to accept a proposed division of a monetary amount or to block it. We use a sample of over 1600 blacks and whites drawn from the universe of registered voters in three states merged with information on neighborhood income and racial composition. We experimentally vary proposed divisions as well as the implied race of the proposer. We find that acceptance in both groups is strongly influenced by the level of inequity in a proposed division, but blacks are also influenced by the offer amount while whites are not. This is driven by the lowest income group in our sample, which represents the 10th percentile of the black income distribution. We are able to reject that blacks and whites in this group share a common, simple utility function. We also find that blacks are more sensitive to unfair proposals from other blacks.

The Impact of College on Migration: Evidence from the Vietnam Generation

We examine the causal effect of education on migration using variation in college attainment due to draft-avoidance behavior during the Vietnam War. We use national and state-level induction risk to identify both college attainment and veteran status for men observed in the 1980 Census. 2SLS estimates imply that additional years of college significantly increased the likelihood that affected men resided outside their birth states later in life. Most of our estimates suggest a causal impact of higher education on migration that is larger in magnitude but not significantly different from the OLS estimates.

Timing Is Everything: Short-Run Population Impacts of Immigration in US Cities

We provide the first analysis of the short-run causal impact of immigrant inflows on native populations at the local labor market level. Using published statistics from the American Community Surveys of 2000–2010, we examine how immigrant inflow shocks to a metropolitan area affect native populations. We find that immigrant inflows are associated with increases in local native populations on an annual basis but that these OLS estimates are generally upward biased. Our IV results are purged of this bias, but we still find that an additional immigrant increases the low skill native population by 0.4–0.7 in the concurrent period. To explain this result, we show that immigrant inflows lead to declines in outflows of low skill natives from affected MSAs. This is most pronounced in MSAs from which relocation is arguably more costly, which may disproportionately affect the low skilled. We find short-run responses among high skill natives that are consistent with displacement. The decline in high skilled native populations is driven by high skilled immigrant inflows, and high skilled outflows increase from affected MSAs. We show that these short-run changes are obscured in specifications using longer-run population changes and conclude that the short-run impact of immigrants on native populations differs markedly from their longer-run impact.

Internal Migration in the United States

This paper examines the history of internal migration in the United States since the 1980s. By most measures, internal migration in the United States is at a 30-year low. The widespread decline in migration rates across a large number of subpopulations suggests that broad-based economic forces are likely responsible for the decrease. An obvious question is the extent to which the recent housing market contraction and the recession may have caused this downward trend in migration: after all, relocation activity often involves both housing market activity and changes in employment. However, we find relatively small roles for both of these cyclical factors. While we will suggest a few other possible explanations for the recent decrease in migration, the puzzle remains. Finally, we compare U.S. migration to other developed countries. Despite the steady decline in U.S. migration, the commonly held belief that Americans are more mobile than their European counterparts still appears to hold true.

Labor Reallocation over the Business Cycle: New Evidence from Internal Migration

This article establishes the cyclical properties of a novel measure of worker reallocation: long-distance migration rates within the United States. Combining evidence from a number of data sets spanning the entire postwar era, we find that internal migration within the United States is procyclical. This result cannot be explained by cyclical variation in relative local economic conditions, suggesting that the net benefit of moving rises during booms. Migration is most procyclical for younger labor-force participants. Therefore, cyclical fluctuations in the net benefit of moving appear to be related to conditions in the labor market and the spatial reallocation of labor.

Field Perspectives on the Causes of Low Employment Among Less Skilled Black Men

Acknowledgments: I am most grateful to the survey participants who shared their thoughts and experiences and to local social service providers who assisted with sample recruitment. I thank John Borkowski and the team at the Notre Dame Center for Children and Families for helpful comments and access to survey space. I also benefited from lengthy discussions with Kasey Buckles, Jay Caponigro, Bill Carbonaro, and James Sullivan. I also thank my very capable research assistants, Shawn Moulton, Jennifer Heissel, and James Kyle O’Donnell. This research was funded in part by the Seng Foundation Endowment for Market‐Based Programs and Catholic Values and the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts at the University of Notre Dame. Errors are my own.

Are College Graduates More Responsive to Distant Labor Market Opportunities?

Are highly educated workers better at locating in areas with high labor demand? To answer this question, I use three decades of U.S. Census data to estimate a McFadden-style model of residential location choice. I test for education differentials in the likelihood that young workers reside in states experiencing positive labor demand shocks at the time these workers entered the labor market. I find effects of changes in state labor demand on college graduate location choice that are several times greater than for high school graduates. Nevertheless, medium-run wage effects of entry labor market conditions for college graduates equal or exceed those of less-educated workers.

Product Markets and Paychecks: Deregulation’s Effect on the Compensation Structure in Banking

The author investigates how deregulation designed to promote competition in the commercial banking industry affected the compensation structure for banking employees. Using establishment-based data from the Employment Cost Index (ECI) Survey and, secondarily, Current Population Survey (CPS) data, she compares changes in the distribution of wages and benefits in the banking industry to changes in unaffected industries across states and over time. In the ECI, deregulation had no impact on overall compensation inequality in banking, but this concealed off-setting changes within the compensation structure. Manager wages fell while non-manager wages held steady, reducing between-occupation compensation inequality. In contrast, between-establishment inequality increased dramatically. Comparisons with CPS data reveal that including gender and educational controls modifies the declines in between-occupation inequality. Additionally, deregulation led to shifts in the types of non-wage benefits banking employees received, and increased between-establishment inequality is due to increased heterogeneity among small banking firms following deregulation.