As a labor economist, Sojourner's research focuses on (1) effects of labor-market institutions, (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 approaches to consumer finance decisions. Sojourner is a member of the Minnesota State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Care & Education. He spent the 2016-’17 academic year in D.C. serving as senior economist for labor at the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) for Presidents Obama & Trump. He is affiliated with IZA, the Minneapolis Fed, and the Roosevelt Institute.
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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.
Studies common ownership in U.S. labor markets, and documents that common ownership more than doubled over the period 1999–2017. Uses a firm’s addition to the S&P 500 index as a shock to the common ownership of its competitors in local labor markets to identify the causal effects of common ownership on labor market outcomes. Finds that using a matched difference-in-differences analysis, after a firm enters the S&P 500 index, the average annual earnings per employee of its local competitors decrease relative to the counterfactual.
Draws on novel, state-level annual measures of individuals with felony-level records to estimate pooled cross-sectional, panel models predicting changes in aggregate employment rates. Indicates that a 1 percentage point increase in the share of a state's adult population with a felony history is associated with 0.3 percentage point increase in non-employment (being unemployed or not in the labor force) among those aged 18 to 54.
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.
Studies the impact of teacher pay-for-performance reforms adopted with complementary human resource management practices on student achievement and workforce flows.
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.
Highlights how retirement-income projections affect employee contributions to savings account.
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.