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Tannenbaum Earns Best Paper Award

Recent Research Uses Economic Tools to Study Eviction
Tannenbaum Earns Best Paper Award
Daniel Tannenbaum received the Best Paper Award for his article exploring the occupational changes in the U.S. in the 20th Century. The honor recognizes its impact over the last three years since it was published in 2020.

Daniel Tannenbaum, assistant professor of economics, received the award for the best paper published in American Economic Journal (AEJ): Applied Economics over the last three years from the AEJ Board of Editors. Published in 2020 in one of the leading journals across fields in empirical microeconomics, Tannenbaum's article, "The Evolution of Work in the United States," finds that occupational change in the U.S. in the 20th century has been more substantial than previously thought by building a new dataset and using a new research approach.

"We used the digitized text of newspaper job ads to measure occupational change, which allowed us to go much farther back in time than most datasets. It also contained rich information about job characteristics. In our work, we are able to track how occupations themselves change over time, whereas prior work typically only studied changes in employment across different occupations," said Tannenbaum.

He and his coauthors Enghin Atalay, economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia; Phai Phongthiengtham, a former graduate student at University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Sebastian Sotelo, associate professor at the University of Michigan, studied the transformation of the U.S. labor market and found that jobs became much more interactive and analytic over the 20th century than previously known. As part of this research, they built a new publicly available dataset of job characteristics, based on newspaper job classifieds, that other researchers and the public can use to study occupational change.

Tannenbaum joined the College of Business in 2016 after receiving his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago. Earlier that year, he and another graduate student, Winnie van Dijk, now an assistant professor of economics at Yale University, attended a book talk by Matthew Desmond for his book "Evicted," which went on to win a Pulitzer.

"I was surprised by how common evictions are in cities and also how little empirical research there was on this topic. I also found Desmond's thesis — that eviction is not just a condition of poverty, but a cause of poverty — extremely compelling but needing additional evidence," he said.

Following the talk, Tannenbaum and van Dijk determined the idea for their first paper on evictions, which they co-authored with Rob Collinson, assistant professor at Notre Dame; John Eric Humphries, assistant professor at Yale; Nicholas Mader, senior researcher at Chapin Hall; and Davin Reed, an economist at Spotify. The more they worked on the topic, the more they understood what the essential missing pieces of evidence were, which led them to do more research. 

Their paper, "Evictions and Poverty in American Cities," forthcoming in the Quarterly Journal of Economics and cited in The New York Times studies eviction and its effects on tenants, including their likelihood of becoming homeless, and their earnings and employment. Currently, Tannenbaum, van Dijk, Collinson, Humphries Mader and Deniz Dutz, a Ph.D. student at University of Chicago, are studying how eviction affects children.

"One of the challenges of studying children facing eviction is the lack of available data. My co-authors and I are able to link eviction court records at the individual level to restricted Census records to understand whether there are children in households with eviction court cases. Our key contribution is linking these children forward in time to understand how eviction affects their household living arrangements, neighborhood, and employment and earnings in adulthood," he said.

They also linked the eviction court records to administrative schooling records, which they are using to study the impact of eviction on student absenteeism and achievement.

"This project is the first to study how eviction impacts children’s housing and schooling outcomes, as well as their long-run employment and earnings," said Tannenbaum.

Their research is in progress with a working paper to be circulated soon.

"Housing and homelessness are critical U.S. policy issues in the 21st century, and there is much more research to be done about the role of government in promoting housing stability and reducing homelessness. The tools of economics are well-suited to study these questions," he said.

Published: October 26, 2023