Edward P. Lazear Prize 2022 Recipient

John M. Abowd

Committee: Paul Oyer (Chair), Mitch Hoffnab, Chinhui Juhn, Hyejun Ku, Chris Stanton

John Abowd is the recipient of the 2022 Edward Lazear Prize for excellence in research, exemplary service to the field, and contributions to civil society. John M. Abowd is the Edmund Ezra Day Professor Emeritus of Economics, Statistics and Data Science at Cornell University, and Associate Director for Research and Methodology and Chief Scientist at the United States Census Bureau. He is also affiliated with the National Bureau of Economic Research, CREST (France), IZA (Germany), and IAB (Germany). He is a fellow of the Econometric Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Statistical Association, and, of course, SOLE. John received an A.B. in Economics from Notre Dame and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago. He was on the faculty of the Princeton Department of Economics and the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, now the Booth School of Business, before moving to Cornell in 1987.

John was chosen as the inaugural winner of the Lazear Prize because of his clear excellence on all three dimensions – research, service to the field, and public service. John has made deep research contributions in several areas. John’s early work included influential papers on unions, such as a study of “queuing” for union jobs (Industrial and Labor Relations Review 1982), with Henry Farber, and a paper on how product market competition affects union wages (Quarterly Journal of Economics 1993), with Thomas Lemieux. In joint work with David Card (Econometrica 1989), John carefully described the structure and statistical properties of wages and hours in the United States. While this and other work would have been sufficient to cement John’s reputation as a leading labor economist, his seminal paper on worker and firm effects on wages (Econometrica 1999), with Francis Kramarz and David Margolis, revolutionized the use of matched employer-employee datasets. It presaged how these datasets would come to be used in a large fraction of labor economics research ever since.

John’s service to the field of labor economics includes consistent contributions to SOLE, where he served as President. John’s efforts at the Census Bureau, starting in 1998, have included leading efforts to create datasets (and access to those datasets), such as the LEHD, that have been key to innumerable research advances in labor economics research. In addition, John has produced a large set of Ph.D. students who are carrying his work forward in labor economics research and public goods provision of useful data.

Finally, John’s work at the Census Bureau has also led to important public policy advances. His work on Census datasets is valuable across the social sciences. More recently, John and a few other Census leaders worked tirelessly to ensure that the 2020 Decennial Census was a success despite the onset of a pandemic and vigorous attempts to politicize the effort.

John’s contributions on all three dimensions of the Lazear Prize criteria have been substantial and will benefit labor economists, as well as broader society, for decades to come. He is an ideal choice for the inaugural Lazear Prize.