Modestino's research focuses on labor and health economics. Overarching themes in Modestino's writings include youth labor market attachment, skills mismatch, migration, and the impact of health care reform on employers. Modestino serves as the Associate Director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy and a Nonresident Scholar for the Brookings Institution. She also serves on the boards of the Massachusetts Housing Partnership and MassBenchmarks, a project that mobilizes economic experts around the state to produce relevant assessments of the Massachusetts' economy through reports, commentary, and analysis. Modestino also served on the Massachusetts Governor's Task Force on Economic Opportunity for Populations Facing Chronically High Levels of Unemployment for 2015-16.
Shows that employer skill requirements fell as the labor market improved from 2010 to 2014. Finds that a one percentage point reduction in the local unemployment rate is associated with a roughly 0.27 percentage point reduction in the fraction of jobs requiring at least a bachelor's degree and a roughly 0.23 percentage point reduction in the fraction requiring five or more years of experience. Implies that this labor market-induced downskilling reversed much of the cyclical increase in education and experience requirements that occurred during the Great Recession.
Discovers evidence that "house lock" decreases mobility but finds that it has a negligible impact on the national unemployment rate. Shows that the impact of reduced mobility due to negative housing equity on the national unemployment rate is likely to be small — on the order of less than one-tenth os a percentage point each year.
Assesses the impact of of the Boston Summer Youth Employment Program on employment, education, and criminal justice outcomes, specifically for low-income youth. Aims to better understand the program features that leas to positive long-term outcomes, so that limited Summer Youth Employment Program funds can be used most effectively.
Defines middle-skill workers and jobs, and discusses trends in the middle-skill labor market and how to overcome market frictions.
Uses a randomized control trial to examine whether the Boston summer youth employment program reduced crime and explore whether short-term behavioral and attitudinal changes related to participation in the program are linked to crime reduction