Cristobal Young

Associate Professor of Sociology, Cornell University
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About Cristobal

Young studies two core areas relating to economic inequality in America. From one end of the income spectrum, he studies the experience of unemployment and the effects of the Unemployment Insurance program. From the other end of the spectrum, he studies the demography of the elite, and the migration of millionaires in response to top tax rates. He has worked with tax administration officials in California, New Jersey, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury to access confidential tax return data on the economic elite.


Why Public Transit Helps Young People Get Work

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In the News

Opinion: "Tech Wealthy Have a Responsibility to the State that Made Them," Cristobal Young, San Francisco Chronicle, February 11, 2019.
Opinion: "If You Tax the Rich, They Won't Leave: US Data Contradicts Millionaires' Threats," Cristobal Young, The Guardian, November 20, 2017.
Research discussed by Michael Levenson, in "Millionaires Might Complain about New Tax but They Probably Won't Flee, Studies Show," Boston Globe, June 21, 2017.
Opinion: "Chris Christie Says High State Taxes Drive Millionaires Away. Here’s Why He’s Mistaken.," Cristobal Young, The Washington Post, June 9, 2016.
Quoted by Alain Sherter in "Do Higher Taxes Really Drive Millionaires to Flee?," Money Watch, May 26, 2016.
Opinion: "You Don’t Need More Free Time," Cristobal Young, New York Times, January 8, 2016.
Research discussed by Adrienne Lu, in "States Debate Millionaires' Taxes," USA Today, July 16, 2014.
Research discussed by Clifton B. Parker, in "Stanford Research Explores Weekend Happiness, Unemployment Blues," Stanford Report, February 20, 2014.
Research discussed by Melissa Pandika, in "Millionaire Migration a Myth, Say Researchers at Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality," Stanford Report, November 2, 2012.
Research discussed by Michael Hiltzik, in "Would Prop. 30 Really Drive Millionaires Out of California?," Los Angeles Times, October 28, 2012.
Opinion: "Momentum for a Millionaire’s Tax," Cristobal Young, Boston Review, December 7, 2011.
Opinion: "Call the Millionaire’s Bluff," Cristobal Young (with Charles Varner), New York Daily News, October 27, 2008.


"Is Millionaire Tax Migration Small, or Very Small? A Response to Cohen, Lai, and Steindel" (with Charles Varner). Public Finance Review (forthcoming).
Responds to a replication and criticism of our study by Chris Christie’s Chief Economist of New Jersey. Despite the skeptical tone of their article, their analysis confirms our core conclusion of a small (or very small) migration effect of the millionaire tax.
"Millionaire Migration and Taxation of the Elite: Evidence from Administrative Data" (with Charles Varner, Ithai Z. Lurie, and Richard Prisinzano). American Sociological Review 81, no. 3 (2016): 421-446.

Advances two core analyses: (1) state-to-state migration of millionaires over the long-term, and (2) a sharply-focused discontinuity analysis of millionaire population along state borders. Finds that millionaire tax flight is occurring, but only at the margins of statistical and socioeconomic significance.

"The Myth of Millionaire Tax Flight: How Place Still Matters for the Rich " (Stanford University Press, 2017).

Examines a trove of data on millionaires and billionaires—confidential tax returns, Forbes lists, and census records—and distills down surprising insights. While economic elites have the resources and capacity to flee high-tax places, their actual migration is surprisingly limited. For the rich, ongoing economic potential is tied to the place where they become successful—often where they are powerful insiders—and that success ultimately diminishes both the incentive and desire to migrate.

"Spatial Mismatch and Youth Unemployment in US Cities: Public Transportation as a Labor Market Institution" (with Anna Lunn and Christof Brandtner). Socio-Economic Review (2017).

Tests whether better public transit services reduce youth unemployment. 

"Millionaire Migration in California: The Impact of Top Tax Rates," (with Charles Varner), Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, 2012.
Examines the effect of the 2004 millionaire tax in California, and the 1996 tax cut for California’s top earners, and finds no migration response among elite income-earners.
"Time as a Network Good: Evidence from Unemployment and the Standard Work Week" (with Chaeyoon Lim). Sociological Science 1 (February 2014).
Discusses how, empirically, there is little value to having so much extra “free time” during spells of unemployment, primarily because everyone else still has to go to work. The unemployed are much happier on weekends, to much the same degree as working people.
"Losing a Job: The Non-Pecuniary Cost of Unemployment in the United States" Social Forces 91, no. 2 (2012): 609-634.
Presents evidence that the experience of losing a job is psychologically devastating. Other family income and unemployment insurance benefits do not alleviate the psychological impact. There are long-term scar effects of job loss that linger even after returning to work.
"Millionaire Migration and State Taxation of Top Incomes: Evidence from a Natural Experiment" (with Charles Varner). National Tax Journal 64, no. 2 (2011): 255-284.

Presents evidence of very little migration of elite income-earners in the wake of a new millionaire tax in New Jersey. The tax is estimated to raise $1 billion per year and modestly reduce income inequality.