In 2020, the Society of Labor Economists awards the Sherwin Rosen Prize to Magne Mogstad for outstanding contributions in the field of labor economics.

Magne Mogstad is the Gary S. Becker Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and has taught there since 2014. He previously was an Assistant Professor at University College London from 2011 to 2013 and a Research Economist at Statistics Norway from 2005 to 2011. Mogstad earned his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Oslo in 2008.  Among his many commendations, he has won the IZA Young Labor Economist Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, the Fridjof Nansens Award for Young Norwegian Researchers, and the Sandmo Prize.  Mogstad has been a Co-Editor of the Journal of Political Economy since 2017 and served as a Co-Editor of the Journal of Public Economics from 2015 to 2018.

Magne Mogstad is a creative, prolific, and insightful scholar who has made deep and influential contributions to labor economics. His research has generated important advances on core issues related to economic inequality and intergenerational mobility, human capital investments, the economics of the family, public economics and social policy, and empirical methodology.  He is an innovative leader in harnessing the power of large and rich administrative data sets combined with more credible identification strategies to generate new, compelling, and policy-relevant insights into important social problems.  He also has pushed out the frontiers of econometrics in directions of tremendous value for applied microeconomic research. Mogstad’s extraordinarily wide-ranging contributions have greatly enhanced our understanding of topics including the importance of peer effects and family interactions in decisions to participate in social programs; the impact of technological change (broadband internet) on the labor market and some illicit activities (sex crimes); the estimation of labor market returns to years of schooling, vocational education, and field of study in college; the impacts of public subsidies for child care on parents and children; the impacts and operation of disability programs; the estimation of firm effects on wages and the implications for the importance of compensating wage differentials and rent-sharing in wage inequality; the potential rehabilitative effects of incarceration; the impacts of assortative mating on inequality; and the non-experimental estimation of treatment effects as well as the strengths and limitations of instrumental variables estimates.

Illustrative examples of Magne Mogstad’s exemplary empirical contributions are his projects providing new insights and more compelling causal estimates of peer and family effects on social program participation and on the insurance value of disability insurance (DI).  His analysis of intergenerational effects on DI participation (with Gordon Dahl and Adreas Kostøl, Quarterly Journal of Economics 2014) exploits the random assignment of judges to DI applicants who appeal after being initially denied benefits in Norway. Mogstad and his co-authors show there is substantial variation in judge leniency and that when a parent gets a more lenient judge in an appeal not is that parent more likely to end up on DI (the first stage) but the DI participation of the adult children of that parent increases substantially (by 12 percentage points over the next decade) with suggestive evidence indicating the intergenerational transmission is generated by changes in children’s beliefs about the efficacy of trying to get onto DI.  More recently, Mogstad has further exploited detailed administrative data and the random assignment of appellant judges for DI in Norway combined with a rich dynamic model of household behavior to provide a more convincing assessment of the welfare consequences of DI programs and the impacts on family labor supply (with David Autor, Andreas Kostøl, and Bradley Setzler, American Economic Review 2019).  Mogstad’s work (with Gordon Dahl and Katrine Løken, American Economic Review 2014) cleverly uses a regression discontinuity to estimate causal peer effects for co-workers in program participation in paid paternity leave in Norway finding substantial impacts likely driven by information transmission and snowballing over time so that long-run participation effects are much greater would have been expected from early take-up rates.


Magne Mogstad has made major contributions to our knowledge of how technological change impacts the labor market and to the estimation of the returns to human capital investments. Mogstad’s paper (with Anders Akerman and Ingvil Gaarder, Quarterly Journal of Economics 2015) using variation across geographic regions of Norway in the timing of initial widespread access to high-speed (broadband) Internet provides some of the most compelling causal evidence of how the organization of work and the demand for skills respond to large reductions in the cost of information technology.  His research on “Field of Study, Earnings, and Self-Selection” (with  Lars Kirkeboen and Edwin Leuven, Quarterly Journal of Economics 2016) represents a significant methodological and substantive contribution using regression discontinuities in admission to specific fields-schools along with information on student’s next best alternatives in the centralized admission process to universities and fields of study in Norway to provide causes estimate returns to field of study and institution quality.  Mogstad (with Manudeep Bhuller and Kjell Salvanes, Journal of Labor Economics 2017) has re-examined life cycle returns to schooling with rich administrative longitudinal data from Norway and useful natural experiments in schooling variation to allow some relaxation of the assumptions in the standard Mincerian human capital earnings function.  Mogstad and his co-authors show that accounting for work and earnings during school and a steeper age-earnings profile with more schooling is important to accurately estimate lifetime returns to schooling.

Magne Mogstad’s recent work has made great progress on crucial issues in empirical methodology for labor economists including the use of instrumental variables to make inferences about policy-relevant parameters (with Andres Santos Alexander Torgovitsky, Econometrica 2019).  He also is doing pioneering work on integrating more complete models of the labor market with frictions and heterogeneity in workplace amenities across employers into the estimation of firm and worker effects on wages using longitudinal matched employer-employee data and addressing econometric problems related to limited mobility bias.

These examples illustrate the remarkable breadth and depth of Magne Mogstad’s contributions to labor economics.  His work is a model for young applied economists, and he also has been a superb mentor to young scholars in labor economics.  The Society of Labor Economists is delighted to honor Magne Mogstad with the Sherwin Rosen Prize.


2020 Nominating Committee

Christian Dustmann
Chinhui Juhn
Lawrence Katz (Chair)
Patrick Kline
Claudia Olivetti