Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

John N. Friedman

John N. Friedman

Professor of Economics and International and Public Affairs

Biography

John N. Friedman is a professor of economics and international affairs and public policy at Brown University. He is also a founding co-director of Opportunity Insights at Harvard University, a research and policy institute using big data to understand the forces influencing upward mobility and develop scalable policy solution to increase it.  Friedman's research has yielded policy-relevant insights on a wide range of topics, including education access and quality, taxation, healthcare, and data privacy. His work has appeared in top academic journals as well as in major media outlets. His most well-known papers estimate the effects of childhood influences (including neighborhoods, teacher and education quality, and access to higher education) on long-term outcomes such as earnings and incarceration. Friedman served as Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy at the National Economic Council in the White House from 2013-2014. He is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and Co-Editor of the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Publications

"The SOI Databank: A case study in leveraging administrative data in support of evidence-based policymaking," w/ Raj Chetty, Emmanuel Saez, and Danny Yagan. Statistical Journal of the IAOS, Vol. 34 (1), pp. 99-103 (2018).

"The Opportunity Atlas: Mapping the Childhood Roots of Social Mobility," w/ Raj Chetty, Nathan Hendren, Maggie R. Jones, and Sonya R. Porter. NBER Working Paper Series, no. 25147, 10/01/2018, Non-Peer Reviewed, In Revision. 

“Identification and Inference with Many Invalid Instruments” w/ Michal Kolesar, Raj Chetty, Edward L. Glaeser and Guido W. Imbens (2013) Revise and resubmit at JBES

“Measuring the Impacts of Teachers I: Estimating Bias in Teacher Value-Added Estimates.” w/ Raj Chetty and Jonah Rockoff
American Economic Review, Vol. 104 (9), pp. 2593-2632 (2014)

“Measuring the Impacts of Teachers II: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood.” w/ Raj Chetty and Jonah Rockoff
American Economic Review, Vol. 104 (9), pp. 2633-2679 (2014)

“Active vs. Passive Decisions and Crowd-Out in Retirement Savings: Evidence from Denmark” w/ Raj Chetty, Soren Leth-Petersen, Torben H. Nielsen, and Tore Olsen. Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol 129(3), (2014)

“Using Differences in Knowledge Across Neighborhood to Uncover the Impacts of the EITC on Earnings w/ Raj Chetty and Emmanuel Saez. American Economic Review, Vol. 103 (7), pp. 2683-2721 (2013) 

"How Does Your Kindergarten Class Affect Your Earnings? Evidence from Project STAR" w/ Raj Chetty, Nate Hilger, Emmanuel Saez, Diane Schanzenbach, and Danny Yagan. Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol 126 (4), pp. 1593-1660 (2011)

“Adjustment Costs, Firm Responses, and Labor Supply Elasticities: Evidence from Denmark” w/ Raj Chetty, Tore Olsen, and Luigi Pistaferri. Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 126 (2), pp. 749-804 (2011) 

Teaching

MPA 2455  Statistics for Public Policy

Talks & Media

  1. Are America's colleges promoting social mobility? - APM Reports

  2. America, Land of Equal Opportunity? Still Not There - Bloomberg

  3. The Ivy League Students Least Likely to Get Married - The Upshot

  4. Higher Ed and the American Dream - Inside Higher Ed

  5. Top public universities are shutting out poor students, report says - Washington Post

News|Recent News

The Economist Who Would Fix the American Dream (John Friedman cited)

November 4, 2019 The Atlantic

This piece mentions that John Friedman, professor of economics and international and public affairs, worked in collaboration with Raj Chetty to create Opportunity Insights - an institute aimed at making success and social mobility a widespread and equal possibility across America. 

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Daily life in Virginia

3 ways to improve the outcomes for African Americans in the rural south (research by John Friedman cited)

August 6, 2019 Center for American Progress

Research from John Friedman's Opportunity Atlas is cited. "Using data taken from the Opportunity Atlas—a collaboration between the U.S. Census Bureau, Harvard University, and Brown University that provides data on economic mobility throughout the country—one can see that the South has the lowest level of economic mobility for all demographics."

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