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Austin Nichols


Senior Research Associate
Income and Benefits Policy Center

Austin Nichols is a Senior Research Associate in The Urban Institute's Income and Benefits Policy Center (and an affiliate of the Tax Policy Center and the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research) who specializes in applied econometrics, labor economics, and public finance. His research focuses on the well-being of families and social insurance programs, including work on child poverty, disability insurance, income volatility, and economic mobility (within and across generations). He also studies education, health, and labor market interventions, and determinants of poverty and economic inequality. He holds an MPP from Harvard and a PhD in Economics from the Unversity of Michigan.

Publications


Viewing 1-10 of 58. Most recent posts listed first.Next Page >>

Understanding the Implications of Raising the Minimum Wage in the District of Columbia (Research Report)
Gregory Acs, Laura Wheaton, Maria E. Enchautegui, Austin Nichols

The minimum wage establishes a lower bound on what employers must pay their workers. The federal minimum wage is currently set at $7.25 an hour, but 22 states and the District of Columbia (DC) have established minimum wages above the federal minimum. Today, DC’s minimum wage is set one dollar higher than the federal minimum ($8.25), while the minimum wage in the neighboring jurisdictions of Maryland and Virginia use the federal minimum wage. However, DC and two neighboring counties in Maryland (Prince George’s County and Montgomery County) have passed legislation raising their minimum wages to $11.50 an hour by 2016 and 2017, respectively. This report examines the potential effects of raising DC’s minimum wage on DC workers, their families, and on the government programs that serve them.

Posted to Web: August 12, 2014Publication Date: June 30, 2014

Effects of a Higher Minimum Wage in the District of Columbia (Research Report)
Austin Nichols, Jonathan Schwabish

Over the next two years, the minimum wage in DC will increase in stages, ultimately reaching $11.50 in July 2016, and thereafter DC’s minimum wage will increase with inflation. Based on historical patterns for the DC metro area and an analysis of workers in the food service industry nationwide, we find little evidence that even a substantial increase in minimum wages in DC would result in lower employment. Our estimates of the relationship are imprecise, however, and we cannot rule out modest negative impacts.

Posted to Web: August 12, 2014Publication Date: June 30, 2014

Self-Employment, Family-Business Ownership, and Economic Mobility (Research Report)
Elizabeth Brown, Austin Nichols

Surprisingly little is known about whether self-employment and family businesses promote mobility, despite a recurring theme in the policy discourse of families achieving upward economic and social mobility through entrepreneurship. The rewards of entrepreneurship can be great for those who succeed, but the risks are also greater. Looking over numerous decades of panel data on Americans, we document that family-business owners have more upward mobility and less downward mobility than wage-and-salary workers, but that the self-employed do not outperform other workers.

Posted to Web: May 28, 2014Publication Date: May 28, 2014

Promise Neighborhoods Restricted-Use Data Files: Technical Specification and Requirements (Research Report)
Peter A. Tatian, Christopher Hayes, Austin Nichols

Promise Neighborhoods is a U.S. Department of Education place-based initiative intended to turn neighborhoods of concentrated poverty into neighborhoods of opportunity using a continuum of services from early childhood through college and career. The Promise Neighborhoods model has a strong commitment to results-based planning and improvement using real-time data, and data on solutions implemented and participant outcomes will be collected over multiple years. This specification document details the format of data to be collected for a data file to eventually be made available to researchers via restricted use license from the Department of Education (the Restricted Use Data File).

Additional Research

Measuring Performance: A Guidance Document for Promise Neighborhoods on Collecting Data and Reporting Results
Promise Neighborhood Target Setting Guidance

Posted to Web: September 26, 2013Publication Date: September 26, 2013

Poverty in the United States (Research Report)
Austin Nichols

Poverty rates were largely unchanged in 2012, remaining at high levels since the Great Recession, though unemployment rates have fallen. Child poverty rates have remained high, and racial and ethnic gaps and differences by family structure remain large.

Posted to Web: September 17, 2013Publication Date: September 17, 2013

Recent Changes in Child Poverty Driven by Labor Market (Fact Sheet / Data at a Glance)
Austin Nichols

Child poverty ratcheted up from 1975 to 1993, then fell sharply until the 2001 recession, when child poverty began to rise again. Changes in family structure drove changes in child poverty 1975 to 1993, but changes in work drove changes in child poverty 1993 to 2011. Labor demand shifts seem to affect parents' work more than reactions to tax and transfer policy, suggesting that more generous government transfers may be called for.

Posted to Web: September 16, 2013Publication Date: September 16, 2013

Explaining Changes in Child Poverty Over the Past Four Decades (Series/Perspectives on Low-Income Working Families)
Austin Nichols

Child poverty ratcheted up from 1975 to 1993, then fell sharply until the 2001 recession, when child poverty began to rise again. Changes in family structure drove changes in child poverty 1975 to 1993, but changes in work drove changes in child poverty 1993 to 2011. Labor demand shifts seem to affect parents' work more than reactions to tax and transfer policy, suggesting that more generous government transfers may be called for.

Posted to Web: September 16, 2013Publication Date: September 16, 2013

Consequences of Long-Term Unemployment (Research Report)
Austin Nichols, Josh Mitchell, Stephan Lindner

Being out of work for six months or more is associated with lower well-being among the long-term unemployed, their families, and their communities. Each week out of work means more lost income. The long-term unemployed also tend to earn less once they find new jobs. They tend to be in poorer health and have children with worse academic performance than similar workers who avoided unemployment. The extent to which those differences are due to the duration of joblessness as opposed to job loss itself or differences in the characteristics between the long-term unemployed and other workers is less clear.

Posted to Web: August 20, 2013Publication Date: August 20, 2013

Why are Fewer People in the Labor Force During the Great Recession? (Policy Briefs/Unemployment and Recovery)
Stephan Lindner, Austin Nichols

This study examines changes in labor force participation during and after the Great Recession and makes comparisons with the recession of 2001. A deceleration in labor force entry rather than an acceleration in labor force exits has driven the decline in labor force participation during and after the Great Recession. The decline in entry rates is concentrated among women, particularly young women and among men ages 55 and older. Moreover, we find that the labor force exit rate is lower following the Great Recession than it was following the 2001 recession.

Posted to Web: August 01, 2013Publication Date: August 01, 2013

Evaluation of Community-Wide Interventions (Research Brief)
Austin Nichols

Random-assignment experiments are the gold standard for assessing the impact of a policy or program for good reason, but they are not always a good option. For place-based initiatives, spillover effects and other factors make random assignment studies inappropriate. There are other methods, some of which use propensity score reweighting, that can credibly estimate impacts for these programs.

Posted to Web: July 03, 2013Publication Date: July 03, 2013

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