Robert A Moffitt

Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Economics

Wyman Park Building 526
Wednesday 9:00-11:00am and By Appointment
Curriculum Vitae


My research interests are in the areas of labor economics and applied microeconometrics. A large portion of my research in labor economics has concerned the labor supply decisions of female heads of family and its response to the U.S. welfare system. My research on the welfare system has led to publications on the AFDC, Food Stamp, and Medicaid programs. I have also published research on the labor supply effects of social insurance programs, including Social Security, unemployment insurance, and disability insurance, as well as of the U.S. income tax system. Other papers have concerned the pattern of real wages over the business cycle, volatility in the U.S. labor market; and trends in U.S. earnings inequality, labor mobility, and state government decision-making. Part of my research also focuses on population economics and economic demography, where I have estimated economic models of marriage, cohabitation, female headship, and fertility. My methodological research has led to publications on selection bias and limited-dependent variable models, nonlinear budget constraints, panel data, attrition, duration models, and causal modeling and program evaluation.

I am the Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Economics at Johns Hopkins University, where I have worked since 1995. I also hold a joint appointment at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Prior to assuming my positions at Hopkins, I was Professor of Economics at Brown University, where I taught for eleven years. I have also been a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Maryland, and worked for several years at Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

I am also a Fellow of the Econometric Society, a Fellow of the Society of Labor Economists, a National Associate of the National Academy of Sciences, a recipient of a MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health, a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Past President of the Population Association of America. I have served as Chief Editor of the American Economic Review, Coeditor of the Review of Economics and Statistics, Chief Editor of the Journal of Human Resources, and as Chair of the National Academy of Sciences Panel to Evaluate Welfare Reform.


Assessing the Need for a New Nationally Representative Household Panel Survey in the United States (April, 2015) [PDF Copy]

The Deserving Poor, the Family, and the U.S. Welfare System (June, 2015) [Link]

Welfare Rules, Incentives, and Family Structure (June, 2015) [PDF Copy]

The War on Poverty: Measurement, Trends, and Policy (May, 2015) [Link]

Exchange with Casey Mulligan on Transfer Programs and the Great Recession and on the Affordable Care Act (March, 2015) [Link]

Multiple Program Participation and the SNAP Program (November, 2014) [PDF Copy]

Forecasts of the U.S. Employment-Population Ratio to 2011 (February, 2013) [PDF Copy]

The Rising Instability of U.S. Earnings: Addendum (July, 2011)
[ PDF Copy]

The U.S. System of Transfer Programs:

The Great Recession and the Social Safety Net (April, 2013) [PDF Copy

The Social Safety Net in the Great Recession (December 2014) [Link

Unpublished Working Papers:

The Rising Instability of U.S. Earnings: Addendum (July, 2011)
[ PDF Copy]

Trends in the Covariance Structure of Earnings in the U.S.: 1969-1987 (July 1995) [PDF Copy]


Selected Chapters from Published Books:

Life Cycle Labor Supply and the Social Security System: A Time-Series Analysis (1987) [PDF Copy]

Taxation and the Labor Supply: Decisions of the Affluent (2000) [PDF Copy]
Policy Interventions, Low Level Equilibria, and Social Interactions (2001) [PDF Copy]

The Econometrics of Data Combination (April, 2005) [PDF Copy]

Economics 355 - Economics of Poverty and Inequality
This course focuses on the economics of poverty and inequality. It covers the measurement of poverty and inequality, facts and trends over time, the causes of poverty and inequality with a focus on those related to earnings and the labor market, and public policy toward poverty and inequality, covering both taxation and government expenditure and programs. By the nature of the material, the course is fairly statistical and quantitative. Several sections make use of intermediate microeconomic concepts, so Economics 301 (intermediate microeconomics) is a prerequisite. Basic knowledge of regression analysis is also helpful.


Economics 651 -- Labor Economics:
This is a graduate survey course in labor economics. The course covers most of the classic topics in labor, including labor supply, labor demand, human capital, compensating wage differentials, and unemployment and job search. Reflecting the field, much of the material is empirical in nature and will use advanced econometric techniques.