The American Economic Review featured Francine D. Blau’s 2018 Distinguished Fellow award profile and portrait in the prologue of its June 2019 issue. Blau is the Frances Perkins Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Professor of Economics at Cornell University.
The Distinguished Fellow awards recognize the lifetime research contributions of distinguished economists. Since 1965, past presidents of the AEA have been recognized as Distinguished Fellows, and up to four additional individuals may be elected for the award in one calendar year as well. Distinguished Fellows are selected by the AEA Nominating Committee and voting members of the Executive Committee, sitting together as an electoral college. In addition to Professor Blau, this year’s fellows include Henry Aaron (Brookings Institute), Joel Mokyr (Northwestern University), and Richard Posner (University of Chicago).
2018 Distinguished Fellow Profile
“Francine Blau is a labor economist who has made seminal contributions to the study of labor market inequality. Her research on the sources of gender wage gaps in the labor market has transformed the field, and much of what is known today is due to her high-quality, innovative, and timely work in the area. She has made notable contributions to other areas of labor economics as well, including studies of other types of wage inequality, immigration, and international labor market comparisons.
When Francine Blau’s first paper, “ ‘Women’s Place’ in the Labor Market,” was published in 1972, the female labor force participation rate was 44 percent and the ratio of female-to-male earning hovered around 60 percent. In her paper, she highlighted the importance of occupational segregation as a source of gender wage gaps; that is, women were paid lower wages in part because they tended to be segregated into low-paying occupations. This discovery, along with her pioneering use of microeconomic data to investigate multiple sources of gender wage gaps, changed the way the profession approached the issue and set the stage for subsequent inquiries. Francine Blau’s subsequent work with coauthors, such as Marianne Ferber and Lawrence Kahn, has built on her initial insights and extended them in ways that contribute to the understanding of the trends in female labor force participation rates and gender wage gaps. Her highly cited book The Economics of Women, Men, and Work, recently published with Anne Winkler in its eighth edition, is the standard textbook on gender issues in the labor market. And, just as her early work would have predicted, a significant decline in occupational segregation by gender has been an important source of the decline in the gender wage gap. As Blau and Kahn document in their 2017 Journal of Economic Literature article, the ratio of female-to male weekly wages has risen from 60 percent in the early 1970s to over 80 percent at present.
Francine Blau has published over 100 articles, chapters, and proceedings and she has written or edited more than 10 books and monographs. In addition to the research on the importance of occupational segregation, Blau has also made important contributions to other facets of women’s labor market outcomes, such as the analysis of how differences in labor market institutions across countries can create differences in gender wage gaps, the labor market outcomes of immigrant women, and factors affecting female labor force participation. Her contributions also extend to the source of wage inequality by skill level in the United States relative to other countries.”
Francine D. Blau is Frances Perkins Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Professor of Economics at Cornell University, a Research Associate of the NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research), and a Research Fellow of IZA (the Institute for the Study of Labor).
Francine Blau was awarded the 2010 Institute of Labor Economics (IZA) Prize in Labor Economics and received the 2017 Judge William B. Groat Alumni Award from the ILR School. She was also awarded the 2017 Mincer Award by The Society of Labor Economists for her lifetime of achievements and contributions to the Field of Labor Economics.
She received her Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University and her B.S. from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University.