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Justin Wolfers

Professor of Economics and Public Policy




Policy Papers

Labor markets

Statement before the Senate Committee on Finance

Full hearing on Job Creation and a Healthy Economy, January 23, 2015

Discusses the state of the labor market recovery and argues for greater use of automatic stabilizers.

Higher Wages for Low-Income Workers Lead to Higher Productivity

with Jan Zilinsky

RealTime Economic Issues Watch, January 13, 2015

Discusses the research on the relationship between high wages and productivity.

Family Policy

How Should We Think About the Taxpayer Consequences of Divorce?

with Betsey Stevenson

Council on Contemporary Families, April 15, 2008

Discusses the tax consequences of changing family structure.

Marriage and the Market

with Betsey Stevenson

Cato Unbound, January 2008 (Full symposium)

Describes the history of the family as a response to economic conditions. A useful summary of much of our research on families.

(De-)Regulating the Family

with Betsey Stevenson

Cato Unbound, January 2008 (Full symposium)

Summarizes the empirical evidence on the consequences of changes in family law.

Prediction Markets

Prediction Markets: The Collective Knowledge of Market Participants

CFA Institute Conference Proceedings Quarterly, June 2009

Discusses prediction markets' efficiencies in the context of sports, the extent to which prediction markets can be used to track poltiical risk, and instances where prediction markets may fail.

Podcast (mp3)

Statement on Prediction Markets

with Kenneth Arrow, Robert Forsythe, Michael Gorham, Robert Hahn, Robin Hanson, John Ledyard, Saul Levmore, Robert Litan, Paul Milgrom, Forrest Nelson, George Neumann, Marco Ottaviani, Thomas Schelling, Robert Shiller, Vernon Smith, Erik Snowberg, Cass Sunstein, Paul Tetlock, Philip Tetlock, Hal Varian and Eric Zitzewitz

Science, 320:877-878, 16 May 2008

A policy proposal for making prediction markets more accessible in the U.S.

Prediction Markets for Business and Public Policy

with Andrew Leigh

The Melbourne Review, 3(1), May 2007

Provides an introduction to prediction markets, and proposals for a legal framework in Australia.

New Uses for New Macro Derivatives

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Economic Letter, 2006-31, August 25, 2006.

Summarizes recent data on economic derivatives, showing that these prediction market data yield more accurate forecasts than the consensus survey.

Experimental Political Betting Markets and the 2004 Election

with Eric Zitzewitz

The Economists' Voice, 1(2), October 12, 2004

We recently persuaded TradeSports to run experimental contingent betting markets, in which one bets on whether President Bush will be re-elected, conditional on other specified events occurring. Thhese markets suggest that issues outside the campaign - like the state of the economy, and progress on the war on terror - were key factors in the 2004 U.S. election.

Pricing Political Risks with Prediction Markets

Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research Policy Brief, June 2004.

Discusses political prediction markets, with an eye to the forces likely to be important in the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election.

Sports Economics

A Statistical Look at Roger Clemens' Pitching Career

with Eric Bradlow, Shane Jensen and Abraham (Adi) Wyner

Chance, 21(3) 24-30, September 2008

Critiques the claim that an analysis by Roger Clemens' agents that analysis of his career statistics suggests he did not use performance-enhancing drugs.

Study of Unconscious Bias Withstands Harshest Scrutiny

with Joe Price

Sports Business Journal, 10(8), June 11 2007.

Describes our research on racial bias by NBA referees, and responds to several criticisms.

Law and Economics

The Death Penalty: No Evidence for Deterrence

with John J. Donohue

The Economists' Voice, 3(5), April 13, 2006.

Argues that Gary Becker and Richard Posner are wrong to think that the death penalty deters murder.  We find little empirical support for their claim of deterrence. If anything, when one looks over the longest period possible (1934-2000) there is more evidence that the death penalty stimulates murder than that it deters murder.

A Reply to Rubin on the Death Penalty

with John J. Donohue

The Economists' Voice, 3(5), April 13, 2006.

A response to this particularly misguided rejoined by Paul Rubin

Social Policy

Moving to Opportunity

with Andrew Leigh

Australian Quarterly: Journal of Contemporary Analysis, September 2001

A radical US social experiment is showing how your neighborhood affects your life chances.

Abortion and Crime

with Andrew Leigh

Australian Quarterly: Journal of Contemporary Analysis, August 2000

Examines Australian data on the link between the rise in abortion and the fall in violent crime.

Other Thoughts

The Best and Worst of the United States

with Andrew Leigh

Australian Quarterly: Journal of Contemporary Analysis, September-October 2003

This essay attempts a balanced assessment of the US, praising her greatest policy achievements and weaknesses, and comparing her with Australia.

Economics, Experiments and Psychology

with Andrew Leigh

Quadrant, January - February 2003.

Reviews the contributions of our latest Nobel Laureates, psychologist Danny Kahneman and experimenter Vernon Smith, arguing that recent innovations in collecting field data will lead to further progress.