Dissertation Fellows

2022-23 Fellows

Cameron Black

Ph.D. Candidate in History at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Student-Athletes or University Employees: Student-Athlete Protest, Disciplinary Policies as Labor Management, 1968-1973

Cameron Black’s fields of interests are in nineteenth- and twentieth-century labor and cultural history, student-athlete protest in the 1960s, and the history of capitalism. Cameron’s dissertation focuses around student-athlete protest movements and analyzes how student-athletes were conceptualized, managed and disciplined like labor from the early twentieth century rather than students were in the 1960s. Cameron’s research interweaves questions of race, labor, and culture to look at how labor resists the encroachment of management within their personal and professional lives, and how management and corporations handle these resistance efforts.

Contact: cjblack7@berkeley.edu

Nick Gebbia

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Education, Labor Markets, and Inequality

Nick’s research highlights various interactions across education, the labor market, and inequality. In one project, he brings novel administrative data to study the effect of the “college financial aid tax” on labor supply and savings decisions. In others, he studies how local labor demand during childhood and adolescence influences kids’ long-run education and labor market outcomes, and how a local preference in college admissions policy at the California State University system affects equity in college access. He is also interested in understanding how policy can reduce inequality through interventions in early life.

Contact: nickgebbia@berkeley.edu

Roberto Hsu Rocha

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Essays on Labor Markets and Entrepreneurship

Roberto came to the Berkeley in 2018 after doing his undergraduate studies in economics at the University of São Paulo and a Masters Program in economics at PUC-Rio. In his dissertation, Roberto studies labor markets and entrepreneurship in Brazil, gravitating between topics such as network hiring and firm outcomes, the relation between racial and gender inequality in entrepreneurship and labor market outcomes, and informal labor relations.

Contact: robertohsurocha@berkeley.edu

Joan J. Martinez

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Essays in Labor Economics, Inequality and Education

Joan Martinez’s work focuses on topics in labor, education, discrimination, and applied econometrics. Her dissertation examines the long-term consequences of exposure to teachers with gender biases of recent high school graduates using a unique panel of 1.7 million students. Her work documents the role of teachers’ gender biases on crucial adulthood outcomes such as HS graduation, college, and labor markets outcomes using Peruvian data from public high school students nationwide. In her dissertation, she also studies how labor demand practices before the 1964 Civil Rights Act had reinforced the exclusion of minority workers from certain occupational groups in the US.

She received her MSc degree in Economics at University College London. Before her doctoral studies, she worked as a research associate at Universidad del Pacífico and an evaluation specialist in Peru’s Ministry of Economics and Finance.

Contact: martinezp_jj@berkeley.edu

Nicole A. Perales

Ph.D. Candidate in Health Policy at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Foster Care Labor Market Dynamics: Payment, Quality, and Altruism

Nicole is a health economist and doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. Her research examines the impact of early life investments. In her dissertation, she focuses on the labor market for foster care givers and studies how wages shape quality of care. Her other projects examine racial biases in child protective services, school-based interventions to combat the obesity epidemic, and the long-term impact of non-cognitive skill development in adolescence. She holds a MS from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a BS from Georgetown University.

Contact: nperales@berkeley.edu

Kai Zen

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Information Frictions in the Labor Market

Kai conducts research on how information frictions in the labor market affect both firms and workers. In one project, he assesses differences across firms in how extensively they screen new hires using German administrative data. Kai also examines how imperfect or biased beliefs about the labor market affect on-the-job search behavior through survey-based randomized controlled trials. Before his doctoral studies, Kai was a policy analyst at the Australian Department of the Treasury, and prior to that received a Bachelor of Economics (Honours) from the University of New South Wales, Australia.

Contact: kai.zen@berkeley.edu

2021-22 Fellows

Hadar Avivi

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Inequality, Mobility and Job Search Determinants

Hadar Avivi is a Ph.D. candidate in the Economics Department whose research focuses on labor economics and applied econometrics. Hadar’s research centers around the study of inequality, discrimination, and intergenerational mobility. In one project, Hadar studies the gender gap in patent applications and the extent to which it is driven by gender bias. Other projects focus on the role of childhood location in shaping children’s long-term outcomes. Before coming to Berkeley, Hadar graduated from Tel-Aviv University and worked as a research assistant at The Hebrew University, The Israeli Democracy Institute, and The Research Department of Bank of Israel.

Contact: havivi@berkeley.edu

Mayra K. Cazares-Minero

Ph.D. Candidate in the School of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Examining Multidimensional Resilience among Former Foster Youth Who Attend 4-Year Universities

Mayra K. Cazares-Minero, MSW, is a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare. Her research examines multi-level factors and processes that help explain resilience among former foster youth who attend public universities in California. In light of the large educational disparities experienced among former foster youth, it is imperative that educators and practitioners understand what resilience processes contribute to former foster youths’ academic success in efforts to close continual educational disparities. Interventions that enable or sustain the multi-level determinants of resilience will reduce the social injustices that are frequently associated with poor educational outcomes among former foster youth.

Contact: mcaza002@berkeley.edu

Vera L. Chang

Ph.D. Candidate in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Worker-Driven Social Responsibility: Labor Sovereignty in Corporate-Controlled Food Chains

For her dissertation, Vera L. Chang studies how global labor strategies and policy can redress ubiquitous social, economic, environmental, racial, and gender injustice in corporate agri-food supply chains and beyond. She is researching a new model for business and human rights, worker-driven social responsibility (WSR), that was created by low-wage immigrant tomato pickers in the southeastern United States and has been expanding into other industries. Vera has written on labor issues in the Guardian, Civil Eats, Food & Wine, and other outlets. Photographs for her research have received awards through SSRC’s Rachel Tanur Memorial Prize for Visual Sociology and UC Berkeley’s Rausser College.

Contact: veralchang@berkeley.edu

Marina Dias

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Opportunities in the Labor Market: The Role of Training, Identity, and Firm Growth

Marina’s dissertation touches on different aspects of opportunities in the labor market. First, she studies how individuals’ labor market experiences during high school affects the decision to attend college. In a project with Roberto Hsu Rocha, they show that the racial gap is smaller in firms owned by nonwhite entrepreneurs, when compared with firms owned by white individuals. They examine other aspects of how labor market outcomes of nonwhite workers can depend on the racial identity of firm owners. In a separate project they study the relationship between startup capital, firm survival, and growth.

Contact: marina_dias@berkeley.edu

Alein Haro

Ph.D. Candidate in Health Policy at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: The Relationship Between Socioeconomic Position, Work, and Social Environment on Exposure to Psychosocial Stressors during the COVID-19 Pandemic

As an immigrant and the first in her family to go to college, Alein’s lived experiences shape her research interests. Her work lies at the intersection of legal status, occupational factors, socioeconomic position as social determinants of health among marginalized workers and racialized minorities in the US. Alein’s dissertation examines the relationship between race/ethnicity, frontline work, and social context and their association with pandemic precarity among Californians. The social patterning of economic and social stressors related to the COVID-19 pandemic can have long-lasting and secondary health effects. She aims to use her findings to inform policy solutions that can prevent the exacerbation of health inequities.

Contact: aleinharo@berkeley.edu

Kevin Lee

DrPH Candidate in Public Health at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Structural Racism, Exploitation, and the Workplace: Protecting Worker Health through Wage Theft Policies

Kevin Lee, MPH, is a DrPH candidate interested in examining structural racism through immigration and labor policies. His dissertation research examines the relationship between wage theft and health, and how state-level wage theft policies influence the health of low-wage immigrant workers of color. His recent work includes research on immigrant and refugee workforce development, the effects of COVID-19 on health coverage among low-wage workers, and COVID-19 workplace inequities. Kevin received both his BA in Ethnic Studies and Psychology, and MPH in Health & Social Behavior from UC Berkeley. In his free time, he enjoys backpacking, traveling, food, house plants, and exploring cities.

Contact: kflee@berkeley.edu

Chris Lowenstein

Ph.D. Candidate in Health Policy at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Local Labor Markets, Economic Policies, and Diseases of Despair

Christopher (Chris) Lowenstein is a fifth-year PhD student studying health economics at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health. His research broadly focuses on the role of employment conditions as determinants of mental and behavioral health, with a particular focus on how labor market and income-support policies may help alleviate health disparities. His dissertation examines the potential role of local economic conditions as contributing factors to the recent rise in mortality and morbidity due to alcohol, drugs, and suicide in the United States. Chris received his MPH in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from UC Berkeley in 2017 and a BA in Mathematical Economics from Colorado College. Prior to returning to graduate school, he worked as a research associate at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC.

Contact: chris.lowenstein@berkeley.edu

Sarah Payne

Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: College For All? College Non-Completion and the Reproduction of Inequity in U.S. Higher Education

Sarah is a sociologist working at the intersection of higher education, stratification, and culture. Her dissertation uses mixed methods to examine the economic and social consequences of college non-completion in the United States, amid low college completion rates and high student debt levels. A related project studies the world views of working-class young adults, including the selves and aspirations they construct in the wake of growing precarity. She is also co-founder of College Beyond, a college persistence non-profit that provides coaching and micro-grants to Pell-eligible college students in New Orleans, LA.

Contact: spayne@berkeley.edu

Alicia Sheares

Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Navigating Inequality: Black Tech Entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley and Atlanta

Alicia Sheares is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at UC Berkeley where she studies race and ethnicity, immigration, inequality, and entrepreneurship. Her dissertation examines the role of networks and organizations in facilitating or inhibiting Black tech entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley and Atlanta. She received her B.A. in International Studies from Spelman College where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude. She then spent two years living in Brazil as a Fulbright Fellow. Upon returning from Brazil, Alicia received an M.Sc. in Migration Studies from the University of Oxford. In her free time, Alicia enjoys running, traveling, watching Brazilian movies, and exploring the city of Oakland.

Contact: amsheares@berkeley.edu

2020-21 Fellows

Alinaya Fabros

Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: The Making of a Transnational Workforce:
Reproducing Migrant Labor Capture Across Generations, Philippines 1974-present

My dissertation examines reproduction dynamics and lasting implications of global labor systems. Specifically, I compare the divergent trajectories of two Philippine villages since the
inauguration of the 1974 New Labor Code—the law often cited for producing “the most globalized labor force on the planet” (Rodriguez 2010) and the prevailing migration management modelbcurrently replicated throughout Asia and the Global South.

Contact: ayafabros@berkeley.edu

Kate Pennington

Ph.D. Candidate in Agricultural & Resource Economics at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Does building new market rate housing cause displacement?

This paper identifies the causal impact of new construction on displacement and gentrifica-
tion by exploiting random variation in the location of new construction induced by serious building fires. I combine parcel-level data on new construction with panel data on individual migration histories to test whether proximity to exogenous new construction increases the risk of moving.

Contact: kate.pennington@berkeley.edu

Matthew Unrath

Ph.D. Candidate in Public Policy Department at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Do Taxpayers Try to Bunch at Kink Points?: Investigating Within-Year Labor Supply Behavior

This paper proposes an alternative source of variation to measure labor supply responses to taxation: intra-year changes in predicted year-end tax liability.

Contact: unrath@berkeley.edu

Muhammad “Yasir” Khan

Ph.D. Candidate in Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Organizational mission, financial rewards and
performance of public sector personnel

I study how organizational mission is a source of intrinsic motivations for public sector work-ers. My motivation for this research is driven by a long standing debate in economics thatvemployees care not just about financial incentives but are also driven by the desire to do good (Besley and Ghatak 2005). This is considered especially true for public sector employees who work in a unique setting with multiple principals, multiple tasks and unclear measurement of outcome (Dixit 1997).

Contact: yasir.khan@berkeley.edu

Nallely Mejia

Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology Department at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: The Social and Cultural Tensions in Mexican Immigrant Families’ Acquisition, Use, and Understandings of Wealth

In my dissertation, I ask how do Mexican immigrant families navigate social and cultural tensions that may arise regarding wealth in Stockton – in particular between the first and second generations? By “Mexican immigrant” or “first generation”, I refer to individuals born in Mexico who have now taken up permanent residence in the United States. By “second generation”, I refer to adults (ages 18 and up) born in the United States with two Mexican immigrant parents. Ideas about wealth (who acquires and how, when and for whom it is used, for what purpose) may differ between the first generation (Mexican immigrant parents) and the second generation (U.S.-born adults).

Contact: nmejia@berkeley.edu

Nina Roussille

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics Department at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Individuals’ Salary Expectations and Work Environment Preferences Impact Their Labor Search and Job Market Outcomes.

My research lies at the intersection of labor economics and public finance, with a particular interest for the distributional effects of labor market policies. Three of the projects described below explore how individuals’ salary expectations and work environment preferences impact their labor search and job market outcomes. These projects use theoretical insights to inform empirical evidence based on a wide-range of methods from canonical event study designs to recent developments in experimental survey designs and machine learning – notably using text as data with Natural Language Processing algorithms. The last project I describe brings insight from the labor economics literature on monopsony and labor market power to revisit the tax incidence of wage subsidies.

Contact: nina_roussille@berkeley.edu

Benjamin Scuderi

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics Department at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Heterogeneity and Choice in the Provision of Indigent Defense / Revealed-Preference Job Ladders (with Nina Roussille)

Contact: bscuderi@berkeley.edu

Chaewon Baek

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics Department at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: The Third Margin of Labor over the Business Cycle

This project aims to examine implications of incorporating more than one type of labor: regular and non- regular labor. Using the CPS data, I first document that gross flows between more granular labor market status are important in terms of the magnitudes and the cyclicality. I then develop a New Keynesian model with two types of labor which can explain richer labor market variables: labor force participation rates, unemployment rates, employment rates, cyclical opportunity costs of working in each labor market, flows between the two labor markets.

Contact: 100cwbcw@berkeley.edu

Jonathan Holmes

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics Department at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Adults with Expensive Health Conditions?

To answer this question, we make use of a unique policy change enacted as a part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which gave small firms the opportunity to purchase community-rated coverage. Under community-rating, small firms no longer pay more to hire employees with expensive health conditions. Using a unique administrative dataset from Utah, we test whether small firms offering insurance are more likely to hire and retain employees with an expensive health condition following the Affordable Care Act.

Contact: jholmes@berkeley.edu

Zach Bleemer

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics Department at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Multiple Titles

My current research combines novel longitudinal administrative data, quasi-experimental research designs, and econometric and machine-learning tools to analyze university policies’ short- and long-run ramifications for postsecondary access, socioeconomic stratification, and economic mobility. Universities facilitate most of America’s highest-productivity workers’ labor market entry, and I have pursued this line of research in order to better understand universities’ role in the intergenerational transmission of income and the mobility impacts of targeted policies.

Contact: bleemer@berkeley.edu

2019-20 Fellows

Carmen Brick

Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Explaining Earned Income Tax Credits: What Accounts for State-Level Variation in Adoption and Distribution?

Carmen Brick is a sociologist whose research focuses upon low-wage work, stratification processes, and social policy. Her dissertation research uses mixed methods to examine the potential of state-level Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs) to reduce poverty and inequality by studying the contexts of their adoption. Her other research projects study the effects of firm-level sorting on the gender wage gap and the disparities in policing related to mental health and substance use statuses. She was previously a Presidential Management Fellow and is currently a Scholars Strategy Network Graduate Fellow and a grant recipient of the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy.

Contact: carmenbrick@berkeley.edu

Christina Brown

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Understanding Direct and Sorting Effects of Performance Pay for Teachers

Christina is a Doctoral Candidate in the Economics Department concentrating on Development and Labor Economics. Her research focuses on optimal contracting, hiring and monitoring of employees in low-resource settings. She has conducted research in Pakistan, India and Indonesia. Prior to Berkeley, she was a Research Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. She has a BA in Political Science and Physics from UCLA and an MA from the Fletcher School at Tufts in Development Economics.

Contact: christinalbrown@gmail.com

Andy Scott Chang

Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Manufacturing “Foreign-Exchange Heroes”: The Gender Politics of International Migration from Indonesia

Andy Scott Chang is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a sociologist of gender, international migration, and work. His dissertation uses ethnographic methods to examine how the state, the market, and the family shape labor migrants’ aspirations, as well as how international migration stratifies their livelihoods along gender, ethnic, and class lines. His research has appeared in Pacific Affairs and has won the best graduate paper award and an honorable mention from the American Sociological Association’s Global and Transnational Sociology and International Migration sections.

Contact: andy.chang@berkeley.edu

Kwabena Donkor

Ph.D. candidate in Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Essays in Applied Microeconomics

Kwabena is a Ph.D. Job candidate in the Agricultural and Resources Economics Department. His research spans topics in Labor economics, Behavioral economics, and quantitative Industrial Organizations. In Labor economics, his research focuses on how the Affordable Care Act and state level Medicaid expansion programs affect seasonal agricultural workers’ healthcare access, use and funding. He also studies the determinants of immigrant skill transferability into the US labor market and the effect of worker experience on the trade-off between job satisfaction and worker productivity. In Behavioral and Industrial Organizations, his work is on how firms use pricing strategies such as menus and default options to influence consumer behavior, and the importance of social norms and decision costs for consumer choices. In addition, he evaluates the social welfare implications of menus and default options

Contact: k.b.donkor@berkeley.edu

Peter McCrory

Ph.D. candidate in Economics at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Tradable Spillovers of Fiscal Policy: Evidence from the 2009 Recovery Act

Peter is a doctoral candidate in the Economics Department, with a specialization in macroeconomics. The core of his dissertation studies the effectiveness of fiscal policy as a tool for limiting the deleterious effects of economic downturns and the costs borne by workers in recessions. In one chapter of his dissertation, he documents how government spending shocks propagate between labor markets in the U.S. through the trade in intermediate goods. His research suggests that fiscal policy is an effective tool to combat economic downturns when monetary policy is constrained by the zero lower bound. Prior to Berkeley, Peter worked for two years as a research associate at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. He received his B.A. from Covenant College with a double major in Economics and Philosophy.

Contact: pbmccrory@berkeley.edu

Matt Pecenco

Ph.D. candidate in Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: The difference a contract makes: Evidence from the Dominican Republic

Matt is a labor and development economist working primarily in Latin America and the United States. His work sees to study how public institutions and policies may help or impede the lives of workers and the economy using quasi- or fully experimental research methods. His job market paper explores the effects of experience and market access as a result of receiving public contracts in the Dominican Republic. Other research of his looks at the causal effects of the incarceration of a family member in the United States and the extent of consumer-side discrimination in online markets.

Contact: pecenco@berkeley.edu

Benjamin Scuderi

Ph.D. candidate in Economics at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Essays in Labor Economics and the Economics of the Criminal Legal System

Benjamin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Economics Department whose research focuses on labor economics, the economics of the criminal legal system, and econometrics. His dissertation project investigates the role of personnel policies in improving outcomes for indigent criminal defendants by developing a novel methodology for quantifying variation in attorney quality and evaluating the effects of a unique reform. Other projects explore estimation of heterogeneous reveled-preference job ladders for skilled workers, measuring the incidence of the Earned Income Tax Credit on low-wage workers and firms in imperfectly competitive labor markets, and investigating the effects of policies aimed at mitigating racial disparities in police interactions. Before graduate school, Benjamin worked for two years as a Predoctoral Fellow at the Lab for Economic Applications and Policy at Harvard University. He graduated with an AB in Applied Mathematics from Harvard College in 2014.

Contact: bscuderi@berkeley.edu

Adam Storer

Adam Storer

Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Job Quality and Subjective Job Evaluations in Front-Line Food Service and Retail Work

Adam is a sociologist working at the intersection of cultural sociology, the sociology of work, and stratification. His dissertation work uses computational methods to understand how low-wage workers evaluate their job quality in the context of changing company policy, as well as a shifting cultural and legal landscape. Other research of his focuses on cultural capital, organizational culture, and workplace discrimination.

Contact: adamstorer@berkeley.edu

Jose Vasquez

Jose Vasquez

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Labor Market Effects of Multinationals

Jose’s research lies at the intersection of labor economics and international trade. He has a particular interest in studying the effects of globalization on both workers and firms. Before starting his Ph.D. at Berkeley, Jose worked for two years as a researcher at the Central Bank of Costa Rica. He also holds an M.A. in Economics from CEMFI, Madrid and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Costa Rica.

Jose’s job market paper studies the impact of multinational corporations (MNCs) on the labor market, using administrative data from Costa Rica.  Policy makers from developed and developing countries alike and at all levels of government compete for the attraction of superstar firms (typically MNCs) through strong economic incentives. In return, they expect the creation of “good jobs” and an improvement in the overall labor market conditions of their jurisdiction. Jose’s dissertation provides evidence on who are the winners and losers of MNC entry and expansion and how to compare the costs and benefits of policies attracting such type of firms.

Contact: jpvasquez@berkeley.edu

2018-19 Fellows

Laura Boudreau

Laura Boudreau

Ph.D. candidate in Business and Public Policy at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Giving workers a voice inside the firm through private sector enforcement of labor law

Laura’s research interests include labor markets, public and private sector regulation and enforcement, and broader political economy questions in developing countries. Her dissertation research focuses on the role of the private sector in the enforcement of labor laws in Bangladesh, in particular in Bangladesh’s garment sector. She also has several other ongoing projects related to worker empowerment and wellbeing in Bangladesh’s garments sector. Prior to beginning her PhD at Berkeley, Laura was a staff member in The World Bank’s Financial and Private Sector Development Vice Presidency, where she spent three years. Laura graduated from the University of Pennsylvania summa cum laude with a B.S. in Economics and a Minor in French Studies.

In low-income countries, the government may lack the ability and/or willingness to pass and to enforce labor regulation. In her dissertation research, Laura asks whether private sector efforts to enforce local labor law can achieve greater regulatory compliance in the absence of effective government-supplied enforcement. Specifically, she evaluates multinational retail and apparel firms’ efforts to enforce local labor laws on their suppliers in Bangladesh. Laura uses a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to study their program to achieve garment factories’ compliance with a law requiring establishment of worker-manager Safety Committees. The labor regulation intends to increase worker voice in health and safety decision-making inside the firm. She analyzes impacts on factories’ compliance levels and economic outcomes and on workers’ voice and welfare.

Contact: lboudreau@berkeley.edu

Jessie Halpern-Finnerty

Jessica Halpern-Finnerty

Ph.D. candidate in Geography at UC Davis

Dissertation: Inter-firm contracting, jobs, and inequality in the U.S.

Jessica has worked as a research and policy associate at the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education since 2010, on projects related to the future of work and the green economy. Previously, she worked at the Center on Wisconsin Strategy in Madison, WI, and completed a master’s degree in international public affairs at UW-Madison.

Her dissertation examines inter-firm contracting in the US and its relationship to inequality. The project includes a quantitative analysis of inter-firm contracting and wages in the US, as well as a mixed-methods regional case study focused on food services contracting in Silicon Valley.

Contact: jesshf@berkeley.edu

Kevin Todd

Kevin Todd

Ph.D. candidate in the Economics at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Mergers and Acquisitions and the Labor Market (Germany 1992-2014)

Kevin is a labor economist from Chelsea, Michigan. His research examines how mergers and acquisitions affect workers. He also studies job search and discrimination.

Contact: ktodd@econ.berkeley.edu

Christopher Carter

Christopher Carter

Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: How traditional institutions shape use of temporary employment programs: evidence from Peru

Chris’s research focuses on how governments address income volatility and unemployment. One strand of his research focuses on the regulation of gig employment with specific reference to Uber in the United States. A second strand, which includes his dissertation, focuses on the ways in which local governments in Latin America respond to rural unemployment. Often, governments have used the unskilled labor of the unemployed to produce public works, sometimes through the generation of short-term, paid work (through temporary employment programs) and sometimes through the mobilization of traditional institutions of unremunerated labor. Using a combination of interviews, archival research, natural experiments, and field experiments, he will examine the strategic decision-making of mayors to pursue these respective strategies as well as the downstream effects of these decisions. Chris is also a research associate at the Center on the Politics of Development at UC Berkeley.

Contact: christopher.carter@berkeley.edu

Thomas Peng

Thomas Peng

Ph.D. Candidate in Department of Sociology at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: Working Outside of the World “Factory”: Service Work, Inclusive Social Programs and Community Politics of the Chinese Internal Migrant Workers

Throughout his graduate study, he has been interested in how the daily life experience (or politics of everyday life) and work experience (or politics of production) interact with each other. His dissertation project, in particular, explores how the career experience of Chinese internal migrants shapes the social relations within urban poor neighborhoods/ migrant enclaves, and how this community-level social formation is interrelated with grassroots governance.

Before coming to Berkeley, Thomas received his M.A. in sociology and China studies from National Tsinghua University in Taiwan. His academic interests include labor process, work and occupation, (uneven) development and the Chinese working people, both within and outside of industrial sector.

Contact: tfpeng@berkeley.edu

Abhay Aneja

Abhay P. Aneja

Ph.D. Candidate at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley

Dissertation: The Labor Market Effects of Minority Political Empowerment: Evidence from the Voting Rights Act

Abhay’s research centers on how the political rights of historically marginalized minority subpopulations translates into concrete economic progress. He seeks to understand whether minority political empowerment is linked to economic opportunity in the form of labor market gains for the historically disenfranchised. His dissertation project uses the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act to examine how the re-enfranchisement of black Americans contributed to their improved labor market performance over the 20th century.

Contact: aneja@berkeley.edu

2017-18 Fellows
Benjamin Shestakofsky

Benjamin Shestakofsky

Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology at UC Berkeley

Research: His research centers on how digital technologies are affecting work and employment, organizations, and economic exchange. Benjamin’s dissertation contributes to debates surrounding artificial intelligence and the future of work by examining the co-evolution of software algorithms and human labor at a high-tech startup company. The findings show how the dynamism of the organizations in which software algorithms are produced and implemented will contribute to human labor’s enduring relevance in the digital age.

Contact: bshestakofsky@berkeley.edu

Abhay Aneja

Abhay P. Aneja

Ph.D. Candidate at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley

Research: Abhay’s research centers on how the political rights of historically marginalized minority subpopulations translates into concrete economic progress. He seeks to understand whether minority political empowerment is linked to economic opportunity in the form of labor market gains for the historically disenfranchised. His dissertation project uses the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act to examine how the re-enfranchisement of black Americans contributed to their improved labor market performance over the 20th century.

Contact: aneja@berkeley.edu

Daniel Haanwinckel

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at UC Berkeley

Research: Daniel specializes in labor economics, international trade, and development economics, with a broad interest in the determinants of wage inequality and unemployment. His current research investigates assortative matching in labor markets (skilled workers being matched to high-paying firms, and the opposite for unskilled workers). Sorting patterns have recently been isolated as important drivers of wage inequality, but little is known about why those patterns have changed in the last decades. Possible causes studied in this project include the skill composition of the workforce, changes in productivity, and skill-biased technical change. In previous research, Daniel has studied labor informality in developing countries.

Dissertation Title: Task-Based Production, Firm Heterogeneity, and Inequality

Contact: haanwinckel@berkeley.edu

Alessandra Fenizia

Alessandra Fenizia

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at UC Berkeley

Research: Alessandra is interested in labor economics, political economy and development economics. Her research focuses on the role of incentives in increasing productivity in the public sector.

About her project: “In many countries, public sector workers have strong job security and weak monitoring. Advancements in seniority and compensations are typically scheduled based on tenure, and are not tied closely to individual performance. While several authors have studied how workers respond to incentives in the private sector, little is known about how to best incentivize public sector workers. My research focuses on how recent reforms to the Italian Public Sector have impacted public sector employees’ productivity using a novel dataset.”

Dissertation Title: Incentives and workers’ productivity in the Public Sector

Contact: afenizia@econ.berkeley.edu

2016-17 Fellows

Caitlin Fox-Hodess

Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology at UC Berkeley

Research: Her research examines contemporary international solidarity among dockworkers’ unions in Europe and Latin America.

Dissertation Title: Dockworkers of the World Unite: Transnational Class Formation and the New Labor Internationalism


Mathias Poertner

Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at UC Berkeley

Research: His research interests include comparative politics, political economy, political representation, labor politics, multi-method research, and causal inference. His research analyzes how different types of linkages forged between diverse class-based organizations, such as labor unions, informal sector unions, and peasant unions, and new political parties shape the degree and form of institutionalization of these new parties, i.e. whether they are able, over time, to take root in society, establish stable ties with voters, successfully compete in elections.

Dissertation Title: Changing World of Work, Societal Linkages, and New Political Parties in Latin America


Jeff Sorensen

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at UC Berkeley

Research: Jeff specializes in labor economics. His research interests include job loss and the role of firms in workers’ labor-market outcomes. He estimates the layoff rules of 4,400 downsizing establishments and find significant trends in layoff rules over time and the business cycle. I then use my estimated layoff rules to test a model of asymmetric employer learning, finding that workers laid off using seniority layoff rules experience smaller earnings losses, since these layoffs do not serve as a negative signal of workers’ productivity.

Dissertation Title: Layoff rules and the cost of job loss: Testing for asymmetric employer learning