Frank Levy

Rose Professor of Urban Economics Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Lecturer, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School
Chapter Member: Boston SSN
Areas of Expertise:

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About Frank

Levy’s recent work has been divided between the impact of computerized work on jobs and skill demands, and the economics of medical imaging as it moves from a boom to something closer to stagnation.


Is a Basic College Education Still Worth the Cost?

  • Alan Benson
  • Raimundo Krishna Esteva

How Computers are Transforming American Jobs

  • Frank Levy

In the News

Frank Levy's research on the use of artificial intelligence in legal professions discussed by John Markoff, "The End of Lawyers? Not So Fast.," New York Times, January 4, 2016.
"6 Rules to Help You Make the Best College Decision," Frank Levy (with Raimundo Krishna Esteva and Alan Benson), PBS Newshour, April 14, 2015.
Frank Levy quoted on the importance of not sabotaging recent gains in job creation by Jared Bernstein, "Congress, PLEASE Don’t Screw Up Today’s Great News on Jobs" The Washington Post, July 3, 2014.
"How to Manage the Financial Risk of Investing in College," Frank Levy (with Alan Benson and Raimundo Krishna Esteva), Los Angeles Times, December 25, 2013.
Frank Levy's research on the worth of a bachelor's degree (with Raimundo Krishna Esteva and Alan Benson) discussed by Scott Carlson, "Is College Worth It? Two New Reports Say Yes (Mostly)," Chronicle of Higher Education, November 4, 2013.


"Can Robots be Lawyers? Computers, Lawyers, and the Practice of Law," (with Dana Remus), Social Science Research Network, 2015.

Assesses frequently-advanced arguments that automation will soon replace much of the work currently performed by lawyers. Addresses three core weaknesses in the existing literature: (i) a failure to engage with technical details to appreciate the capacities and limits of existing and emerging software; (ii) an absence of data on how lawyers divide their time among various tasks, only some of which can be automated; and (iii) inadequate consideration of whether algorithmic performance of a task conforms to the values, ideals and challenges of the legal profession.

"The Economics of BA Ambivalence: The Case of California Higher Education," (with Alan Benson and Raimundo Krishna Esteva), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2013.

Estimates individuals’ and society’s economic returns to a bachelor’s degree and evaluates the quality of beginning a bachelor's degree program as an investment.

Dancing with Robots (with Richard J. Murnane) (Third Way Foundation, 2013).
Discusses the profound impact that advances in computerization are having on modern life while detailing how technological change has created dislocations in the labor market, especially the elimination of routine-cognitive and routine-manual tasks that provided work for generations of high school graduates.
"The Sharp Slowdown in Growth of Medical Imaging: An Early Analysis Suggests Combination of Policies was the Cause" (with David Lee). Health Affairs 31, no. 8 (2012).
Finds that the growth of imaging use among both Medicare beneficiaries and the non-Medicare insured slowed to 1–3 percent per year through 2009, creating a weaker market for radiologists among other effects, and ultimately suggesting incentive-based cost control measures can be a useful complement to comparative effectiveness research when a procedure’s ultimate clinical benefit is uncertain.
"Offshoring Professional Services: Institutions and Professional Control" (with Kyoung-Hee Yu). British Journal of Industrial Relations 48, no. 4 (December 2010): 758-783.
Examines the reasons why one might expect it to be more difficult to offshore professional work than manufacturing work in a globalized world. Shows that existing theories on the ‘offshorability’ of jobs have not captured how national institutions and occupational regulations continue to define professional work.
"Institutions and Wages in Post-World War II America" (with Peter Temin), in Labor in the Era of Globalization, edited by Clair Brown, Barry J. Eichengreen, and Michael Reich (Cambridge University Press, 2009).
Provides a comprehensive view of widening income inequality in the United States contrasting conditions since 1980 with those in earlier postwar years. Argues that the income distribution in each period was strongly shaped by a set of specific economic institutions.
The New Division of Labor: How Computers are Creating the Next Job Market (with Richard J. Murnane) (Princeton University Press, 2005).
Shows how computers are changing the employment landscape and how the right kinds of education can ease the transition to the new job market.