Aaron J. Sojourner

Associate Professor of Work & Organizations, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota

About Aaron

Sojourner is a labor economist whose research focuses on three areas: (1) effects of labor-market institutions on economic productivity and in politics, (2) policies to promote efficient and equitable development of human capital with a focus on early childhood and K-12 education systems, and (3) behavioral economic approachers to consumer financial decisions. 


In the News

Aaron J. Sojourner quoted on unprecedented rise in unemployment by Heather Long, "Over 10 Million Americans Applied for Unemployment Benefits in March as Economy Collapsed" The Washington Post, April 2, 2020.
Aaron J. Sojourner's research on technology-driven ways to evaluate job candidates discussed by Michelle Cheng, "An Experiment to Find Teachers who Perform Better and Stay Longer Shows Promising Results," Quartz, November 7, 2019.
Aaron J. Sojourner's research on economic growth under Trump discussed by Alan Jude Ryland, "Donald Trump Tweets Peter Ferrara’s Claim That the Economic ‘Recovery Got Started on Election Day 2016’," Second Nexus, September 19, 2018.
Aaron J. Sojourner quoted on employment by Josh Boak, "AP Fact Check: Trump Overstates His Role in Black Job Gains" Associated Press, August 16, 2018.
Aaron J. Sojourner's research on labor market discussed by Jim Puzzanghera, "Sarah Huckabee Sanders Made a False Claim About Black Employment. She's Issued a Rare Apology," Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2018.
Darrick Hamilton quoted on the racial wealth gap by Evan Ramstad, "Economists at Minneapolis Fed Meeting Explore Persistent Racial Gaps in Hiring, Wealth" Star Tribune, May 11, 2018.
Aaron J. Sojourner quoted on unionizing campaign workers by Judy Keen, "Campaign Workers for Two Minnesota DFL Candidates Join New National Union" Star Tribune, April 12, 2018.
Aaron J. Sojourner quoted by Danny Vinik, "What Peter Navarro Gets Right on Trade" Politico, October 18, 2017.
"The Case for Mandating Paid Sick Leave in Minneapolis," Aaron J. Sojourner (with Nicolas Ziebarth), Star-Tribune, April 19, 2016.
Aaron J. Sojourner quoted on investing in early childhood development by Ethan Nelson, "Cradle to K Cabinet Plan Advances" Minnesota Daily, March 2, 2015.
Aaron J. Sojourner's research on the impact the unionization of charter schools has on performance discussed by Maggie Thurber, "Kids Do Fine When Charter School Forms Labor Union, Study Shows," Ohio Watchdog, January 29, 2015.
Interview on “How Peer Effects Boost Student Achievement” Aaron J. Sojourner, Access Minnesota, July 31, 2013.
Guest to discuss “Should We Force People to Save for Retirement?" on CBS Minnesota, Aaron J. Sojourner, May 2, 2013.
"Should Minnesota Raise Its Minimum Wage? Yes," Aaron J. Sojourner (with Michael Reich), Minneapolis Star-Tribune, February 23, 2013.
"American Job Seekers Think Increasing the Minimum Wage Would be Good for Them, and the Country," Aaron J. Sojourner, Working Economics - The Economics Policy Institute Blog, February 20, 2013.
"Union Seeks to Resume Talks with Crystal Sugar," Aaron J. Sojourner, Interview with Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio, October 11, 2012.
"Say No to Right to Work," Aaron J. Sojourner, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, February 18, 2012.
Guest to discuss labor relations between Minnesota nurses and hospitals on KARE 11, Aaron J. Sojourner, June 29, 2010.
Guest to discuss the possibility of a resolution between nurses’ unions and Minnesota hospitals on Minnesota Public Radio, Aaron J. Sojourner, June 22, 2010.
Guest to discuss the possibility of and possible effect of a nurses’ strike on Minnesota Public Radio, Aaron J. Sojourner, June 16, 2010.
Guest to discuss the end of the historic nurses’ strike on TPT Almanac, Aaron J. Sojourner, June 11, 2010.
"The Twin Cities Nursing Strike: Short-Term Resolution, Long-Term Pressures," Aaron J. Sojourner (with Jean Abraham), Minnesota Physician, November 2010.


"Can Intensive Early Childhood Intervention Programs Eliminate Income-Based Cognitive and Achievement Gaps?" (with Greg Duncan). Journal of Human Resources 48, no. 4 (2013): 945-968.

Finds that high-quality early childhood intervention has large positive effects on cognitive skills and achievement for children from low-income families, but a negligible effect for children from higher-income families. Either an income-targeted or universal intervention could close a large fraction of the existing achievement gap observed between these groups.

"Impacts of Unionization on Quality and Productivity: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Nursing Homes" (with Brigham Frandsen, Robert Town, David Grabowski, and Michelle Chen). Industrial and Labor Relations Review 68, no. 4 (2015): 771-806.

Studies the effects of nursing home unionization on numerous labor, establishment, and consumer outcomes using a regression discontinuity design. Finds negative effects of unionization on staffing levels and no decline in care quality, suggesting positive labor productivity effects. 

"What Will My Account Really Be Worth? Experimental Evidence on How Retirement Income Projections Affect Saving" (with Gopi Shah Goda and Colleen Flaherty Manchester). Journal of Public Economics 119 (2014): 80-92.

Highlights how retirement-income projections affect employee contributions to savings account.

"Are Voluntary Agreements Better? Evidence from Baseball Arbitration" (with Jaewoo Jung and John W. Budd). ILR Review 70, no. 4 (2016): 865-893.

Examines the widespread belief that voluntarily negotiated agreements produce better long-run relationships than do third-party imposed resolutions. such as arbitrator decisions or court judgments. 

"Teacher Pay Reform and Productivity: Panel Data Evidence from Adoptions of Q-Comp in Minnesota " (with Elton Mykerezi and Kristine West ). Journal of Human Resources 49, no. 4 (2014): 945-981.

Studies the impact of teacher pay-for-performance reforms adopted with complementary human resource management practices on student achievement and workforce flows. 

"Brief: Do Income Projections Affect Retirement Savings?," (with Gopi Shah Goda and Colleen Flaherty Manchester), Center for Retirement Research, March 31, 2013.
Suggests that providing workers with retirement income projections, accompanied by information on retirement planning, could modestly increase saving.
"Identification of Peer Effects with Missing Peer Data: Evidence from Project STAR" Economic Journal 123, no. 569 (2013): 574-605.
Studies peer effects on student achievement among first graders randomly assigned to classrooms in Tennessee’s Project STAR.
"Do Unions Promote Electoral Office Holding? Evidence from Correlates of State Legislatures' Occupational Shares" Industrial & Labor Relations Review 66, no. 2 (2013): 467-486.
Develops the first evidence on the degree to which labor unions develop members’ political leadership in the broader community by studying the relationship between state legislators’ occupations and the unionization rates of occupations across U.S. states, and finds that unions do indeed promote elected political leadership by individuals from working- and middle-class jobs.
"What Will My Account Really be Worth? Experimental Evidence on How Retirement Income Projections Affect Saving," (with Gopi Shah Goda and Colleen Flaherty Manchester), National Bureau of Economic Research, February 29, 2012.
Uses a large-scale field experiment to measure how a low-cost, direct-mail intervention designed to inform subjects about how current contributions can translate into income in retirement affects their saving behavior.
"Impacts of Unionization on Quality and Productivity: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Nursing Homes," (with Robert J. Town, David C. Grabowski, Michelle M. Chen, and Brigham Frandsen), National Bureau of Economic Research, December 31, 2011.
Studies the effects of unions in private-sector nursing homes on a broad range of labor, firm, and consumer outcomes.