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Racism and the Economy: Focus on the Economics Profession

April 13, 2021
12:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. ET | 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. CT
Virtual video event presented by all 12 District Banks of the Federal Reserve System

Racism and the Economy: Focus on the Economics Profession
Detailed key

The fifth installment of our virtual event series focused on how racism affects the people and practice of economics. Panelists discussed the factors that contribute to the underrepresentation of people of color in economics as well as strategies to increase inclusion at every level, from recruitment and hiring to mentoring and publishing. The discussion then examined what questions economists have ignored and how their assumptions around race and racism can be incomplete and problematic. These insights informed a conversation about improving economics research practices and professional processes to achieve greater diversity, expand avenues of inquiry, and better inform policy.

Speakers:

  • Kimberly Adams (moderator), Host and Correspondent, Marketplace
  • Randall Akee, Chair, American Indian Studies Interdepartmental Program, and Associate Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, Professor of Economics, University of California, Merced
  • Raphael Bostic, President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
  • Judith Chevalier, William S. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Economics, Yale University School of Management
  • Lisa D. Cook, Professor of Economics and International Relations, Michigan State University
  • Mary C. Daly (moderator), President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
  • Esther L. George, President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
  • Trevon Logan, Hazel C. Youngberg Trustees Distinguished Professor of Economics, Ohio State University 
  • Arthur Lupia, Gerald R. Ford Distinguished University Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan, and Assistant Director, National Science Foundation
  • Loretta J. Mester, President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
  • Sendhil Mullainathan, Roman Family University Professor of Computation and Behavioral Science, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Eric Rosengren, President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
  • Jeanna Smialek (moderator), Reporter, New York Times
  • William E. Spriggs, Chief Economist, AFL-CIO, and Professor of Economics, Howard University
  • Ebonya Washington, Samuel C. Park Jr. Professor of Economics, Yale University
  • David Wilcox, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics

Event Details

12:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. ET | 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. CT
Virtual video event presented by all 12 District Banks of the Federal Reserve System

Additional Resources

We have curated a collection of additional resources that focus on racism and its effects on the economics profession.

A Teachable Moment? Will George Floyd’s Death Spur Change in Economics?

William E. Spriggs

How You Can Work to Increase the Presence and Improve the Experience of Black, Latinx, and Native American People in the Economics Profession

Amanda Bayer, Gary Hoover, and Ebonya Washington

The Unequal Distribution of Economic Education: A Report on the Race, Ethnicity, and Gender of Economics Majors at US Colleges and Universities

Amanda Bayer and David Wilcox

Explore the full resource list ›



Discussion Guide

Building a racially inclusive economics profession takes leadership. We encourage you to attend the event and then continue the important conversation about the role of racism in economics with your colleagues, staff, or students. View the Discussion Guide for suggested questions to consider in your conversation.

Explore the discussion guide ›




Event Agenda

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

12:00 p.m. – 12:15 p.m. ET Opening remarks and introduction

Esther L. George, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

12:15 p.m. – 1:10 p.m. ET Panel 1: Racism and the Pipeline into Economics

This panel will look at factors that affect who is in the economics profession and the barriers that contribute to the underrepresentation of people of color among economics undergraduates, doctoral students, academic faculty, and government economists. Panelists will discuss how hiring, mentoring, and publishing affect who is rewarded within the profession and features of the professional culture that contribute to underrepresentation.

Speakers:
Randall Akee, American Indian Studies Interdepartmental Program and University of California, Los Angeles
Judith Chevalier, Yale University School of Management
Trevon Logan, Ohio State University
Ebonya Washington, Yale University

Moderator:
Jeanna Smialek, New York Times

1:15 p.m. – 1:50 p.m. ET Panel 2: Keynote Conversation on Racism and the Practice of Economics

This conversation will examine how racism enters economics research via the questions economists ask—and don’t ask—as well as the assumptions they make. The conversation will explore how economists can move beyond current approaches to improve economics knowledge and policy.

Speakers:
Sendhil Mullainathan, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
William E. Spriggs, AFL-CIO and Howard University

Moderator:
Mary C. Daly, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

2:00 p.m. – 2:50 p.m. ET Panel 3: Promoting Inclusivity and Effecting Change

The third panel will offer proposals to strengthen the economics profession. Panelists from economics and other disciplines will consider how changes to professional recognition and research practices can lead the way to creating a more diverse, equitable, and informed discipline.

Speakers:
Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, University of California, Merced
Lisa D. Cook, Michigan State University
Arthur Lupia, University of Michigan and National Science Foundation
David Wilcox, Peterson Institute for International Economics

Moderator:
Kimberly Adams, Marketplace

2:50 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. ET Conclusion with Federal Reserve Bank System Leadership

Speakers:
Raphael Bostic, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Loretta J. Mester, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
Eric Rosengren, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

Moderator:
Kimberly Adams, Marketplace

3:15 p.m. – 3:16 p.m. ET Closing remarks

Raphael Bostic, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta


Presenter Information

Kimberly Adams Host and Correspondent, Marketplace

Kimberly Adams covers politics and general news for Marketplace from the Washington, D.C., bureau. Before moving to D.C., Adams reported on the political, social, and economic upheaval in Egypt following the Arab Spring as a freelance journalist based in Cairo. Her work aired on multiple networks in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Germany, Hong Kong, and elsewhere. While reporting in Cairo, she received awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, the Religion Communicators Council, and the Association for Women in Communication. Prior to freelancing, Adams worked as a producer for NPR from the D.C. headquarters, covering politics, arts, culture, and breaking news as a producer for “Weekend Edition” and the Washington Political Unit.

Randall Akee

Randall Akee Chair, American Indian Studies Interdepartmental Program, and Associate Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Los Angeles

Randall Akee is an associate professor in the Department of Public Policy and American Indian Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles as well as a research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research. Previously, he was an assistant professor of economics at Tufts University. Akee is an applied microeconomist and has worked in the areas of labor economics, economic development, and migration. He has conducted research on the determinants of migration and human trafficking, the effect of changes in household income on educational attainment and obesity, and the role of property institutions on investment decisions. He has conducted research on several American Indian reservations, Canadian First Nations, and Pacific Island nations. He also spent several years working for the State of Hawaii Office of Hawaiian Affairs Economic Development Division.

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes Professor of Economics, University of California, Merced

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes is a professor of economics at the University of California, Merced; a Research Fellow at CReAM, FEDEA, GLO, and IZA; an advisory committee member of the Americas Center Advisory Council at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; and the western representative in the American Economic Association’s Committee for the Status of Women in the Economics Profession since 2015. Her areas of interest include labor economics, international migration, and remittances. She has published on the informal work sector, immigrant assimilation, and the impact of immigration policies on migrants and the communities where they reside. She was the president of the American Society of Hispanic Economists in 2014.

Judith Chevalier

Judith Chevalier William S. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Economics, Yale University School of Management

Judith Chevalier is the William S. Beinecke professor of finance and economics at the Yale University School of Management. She is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has served on the executive committee of the American Economic Association and is currently the chair of AEA’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession. Her research is in the areas of both finance and industrial organization. Some of her recent research examines the interaction between customer reviews and firm strategy, consumer foresight in markets for durable goods, and the taste for leisure as a determinant of occupational choice. Recently, her work has focused on the effects of new technologies on firms, individuals, and policy.

Lisa D. Cook Professor of Economics and International Relations, Michigan State University

Lisa D. Cook is a professor in the department of economics and in international relations at Michigan State University and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Among her current research interests are economic growth and development, financial institutions and markets, innovation, and economic history. She was a national fellow at Stanford University and served in the White House as a senior economist on the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama. She served as president of the National Economic Association and, in 2019, she was elected to serve on the executive committee of the American Economic Association. She is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, the advisory board of the Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute of the Minneapolis Fed, the advisory board of the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian Institution, and the board of directors of the Roosevelt Institute.

Trevon Logan Hazel C. Youngberg Trustees Distinguished Professor of Economics, Ohio State University

Trevon D. Logan is the Hazel C. Youngberg distinguished professor of economics at Ohio State University and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He has held visiting appointments at Princeton University’s Center for Health and Well-Being and at the University of Michigan, where he was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scholar in health policy research. He currently serves on the editorial boards of Explorations in Economic History, Historical Methods, and Demographic Research. Logan specializes in economic history, economic demography, and applied microeconomics. His research in economic history concerns the development of living standards measures that can be used to directly assess the question of how the human condition has changed over time. He is currently extending his historical research agenda to include topics such as childhood health, mortality, morbidity, and racial disparities in health.

Arthur Lupia

Arthur Lupia Gerald R. Ford Distinguished University Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan, and Assistant Director, National Science Foundation

Arthur Lupia is the Gerald R. Ford distinguished university professor at the University of Michigan and leads the Social, Behavioral, and Economics directorate at the National Science Foundation. His research examines how people make decisions when they lack information and how organizations manage complex information flows. He has previously served as chair of the National Academy of Science’s Roundtable of the Application of Social and Behavioral Science Research, chair of the Center for Open Science, principal investigator of the American National Election Studies, as well as on a number of executive boards, including Climate Central and the National Academies’ Division of Behavioral and Social Science and Education. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Lupia’s most recent book is Uninformed: Why People Know So Little About Politics and What We Can Do About It..

Sendhil Mullainathan Roman Family University Professor of Computation and Behavioral Science, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Sendhil Mullainathan is the Roman Family University professor of computation and behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. His current research uses machine learning to understand complex problems in human behavior, social policy, and especially medicine. His past work combines insights from economics and behavioral science with causal inference tools—lab, field, and natural experiments—to study social problems such as discrimination and poverty. He recently co-authored Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much and writes regularly for the New York Times. Mullainathan helped co-found a nonprofit to apply behavioral science (ideas42), co-founded a center to promote the use of randomized control trials in development (the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab), and serves on the board of the MacArthur Foundation. He is also a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant.

Jeanna Smialek

Jeanna Smialek Reporter, New York Times

Jeanna Smialek reports on the Federal Reserve and the economy at the New York Times and is writing a book for Knopf on how the Fed has evolved in the 21st century. She previously covered central banking at Bloomberg News, where she also wrote feature stories for Businessweek magazine. Smialek attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and recently graduated from New York University with her MBA. She grew up in Mars, Pa., a small town outside Pittsburgh, and lives in New York City.

William Spriggs

William Spriggs Chief Economist, AFL-CIO, and Professor of Economics, Howard University

William Spriggs is a professor of economics at Howard University and serves as chief economist to the AFL-CIO. In that role, he chairs the Economic Policy Working Group for the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He serves on the board of the National Bureau of Economic Research and the advisory board of the Minneapolis Fed’s Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute. He is also on the editorial boards for the Public Administration Review and the Journal of the Center for Policy Analysis and Research (of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation). He was the 2014 recipient of the NAACP Benjamin L. Hooks’ Keeper of the Flame Award. From 2009 to 2012, Spriggs served as assistant secretary for the Office of Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor, to which he was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Ebonya Washington

Ebonya Washington Samuel C. Park Jr. Professor of Economics, Yale University

Ebonya Washington is the Samuel C. Park Jr. professor of economics at Yale University and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She earned her Ph.D. from MIT in 2003. Washington’s research specializes in public finance and political economy with interests in the interplay of race, gender, and political representation; the behavioral motivations and consequences of political participation; and the processes through which low-income Americans meet their financial needs. Her work has appeared in the American Economic Review and the Quarterly Journal of Economics. Washington is currently co-chair of the American Economic Association’s Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession. She also serves as an associate editor for the Quarterly Journal of Economics and the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

David Wilcox

David Wilcox Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics

David Wilcox is a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. His current research focuses on the U.S. macroeconomy, monetary policy, and diversity and inclusion, especially in the economics profession. Prior to joining the Peterson Institute, he served for many years on the staff of the Federal Reserve Board, including as deputy director (2001–11) and director (2011–18) of the Division of Research and Statistics. In the latter role, Wilcox functioned as the chief economist of the division, a senior adviser to three successive chairs of the Federal Reserve Board, the division’s lead for strategic direction, and its chief manager.


Conversation Leader Pledges

We recognize those who have committed to promoting awareness of this event within their organizations or discussing it with colleagues, staff, or students. We appreciate their leadership in continuing the conversation around racism in the economics profession.


About the series

Understanding the implications of structural racism in America’s economy and advancing actions to improve economic outcomes for all.

Racism forms the foundation of inequality in our society. It limits opportunity for people of color and threatens the health of our economy. While the global pandemic has intensified racial and economic disparities, the killing of George Floyd has galvanized people from all walks of life to address the systems and structures that enable and perpetuate these outcomes.

Hosted by all 12 District Banks of the U.S. Federal Reserve System, “Racism and the Economy” is a virtual series that brings together community, business, and academic leaders to examine the economic impact of racism and advance bold ideas and concrete actions to achieve an economy that makes opportunity available to everyone.


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