David Card is the recipient of the 2019 Jacob Mincer Award for Lifetime Contributions to the Field of Labor Economics. Card is the Class of 1950 Professor of Economics and the Director of the Center for Labor Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a fellow of the Society of Labor Economists, the Econometric Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. David has won numerous prizes and awards, including the Frisch Medal from the Econometric Society, the IZA Prize in Labor Economics, and the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award. He has served as co-editor of the Journal of Labor Economics, the American Economic Review, and Econometrica. David has also served as President of the Society of Labor Economists and of the Western Economics Association.
David grew up on a farm near Guelph, Ontario, and he attended a one-room school as a child. He was an undergraduate at Queens University and received his Ph.D. in Economics from Princeton. After one year on the faculty at the University of Chicago, David returned to Princeton in 1983, where he remained until 1997 when he moved to Berkeley. David’s time at Princeton was marked by, among other things, very fruitful collaborations with Orley Ashenfelter and Alan Krueger. It was at Princeton that David first exhibited his life-long devotion to training graduate students. Many of David’s students, both from Princeton and Berkeley, are now leading economists in labor economics and related fields.
David is an obvious choice for the Mincer Award. It is hard to think of a labor economist who entered the profession in the last 40 years with broader reach and influence than David Card. He has been a major force and leader in the field of labor economics for over three decades with pioneering and influential contributions spanning all aspects of the field, and it is diffcult for anyone to work in labor economics without citing his important work. David’s research stands as an exemplar of how empirical research in economics should be conducted.
Any list of the substantive questions David has worked on will necessarily be incomplete due to the range of topics he has addressed, and we mention only some here. David’ research portfolio includes work on static and intertemporal labor supply, labor contracts and union wage and employment determination, the empirical methodology of estimating returns to schooling, the impacts of school inputs (school quality) on earnings and racial wage gaps. long-run changes in racial wage gaps, the impacts of immigration on the labor market, the impacts of training and employment policies, the minimum wage, the empirical methodology of program evaluation and natural experiments, unemployment and unemployment insurance, and, most recently, the use of employer-employee matched data to examine the role of firms in wage setting and to test models of labor contracting.
David’s earliest work was on indexation in labor contracts and on labor demand in a unionized environment. His interest in labor unions presaged his important later work on labor unions and inequality. David’s paper with Orley Ashenfelter on estimating the effect of training programs remains one of the important early contributions to the literature on program evaluation. David’s work with John Abowd on employment contracts and models of earnings and labor supply stand as seminal work on these problems. David’s work on immigration began with his well-known study of the effects of the Mariel boat-lift on the Miami labor market and stands as a prime example of the use of a natural experiment to understand an important policy problem. This work was followed by his later central contributions to the literature on the effects of immigration. David’s seminal work with Alan Krueger on the employment effects of the minimum wage challenged conventional orthodoxy, changed the way economists thought about the minimum wage, and was an important driver in subsequent work on employer market power and monopsony. David’s work on education,focusing both on the role of educational resources and on understanding the causal effect of education on earnings are central contributions to the human capital literature. More recently, David’s work on heterogeneity across firms in wage setting has played an important role in understanding wage inequality.
In conclusion, the depth and breadth of David Card’s contributions to labor economics, his mentoring of generations of students who have gone on to be the leaders of succeeding generations of labor economists, and his generous provision of professional public goods to the field and to SOLE make him an ideal recipient of the Mincer Award.
2019 Jacob Mincer Award Nominating Committee
Joseph Altonji (ex offcio)