Fran Blau is one of my favorite labor economists in the world: She’s smart, savvy, tackles important problems, and also incredibly generous in helping younger scholars and colleagues with their own research.? She is now also the winner of?this year’s IZA Prize in Labor Economics.? The topics that?she’s done important research on-topics like gender differences, inequality, race, immigration, welfare, education, marriage, labor market institutions, occupational choice-read like a virtual catalog of the central debates in labor economics.? Fran now joins a virtual Who’s Who of the great and the good in labor which includes: Jacob Mincer, Orley Ashenfelter, Eddie Lazear, Dale Mortensen and Chris Pissarides, David Card and Alan Krueger, Richard Freeman, Richard Layard and Dick Easterlin.
The other thing you’ll notice is that Fran is the first woman to join that list.? In a field that is rarely encouraging of such views, she’s an unabashed feminist, so I’m sure that breaking through that barrier will bring its own special significance.? Fran is also a coauthor of?an important textbook used as the basis for courses around the world on the economics of gender and, more recently, helped found a?mentoring program for young women economists, which?has been shown to have a transformative impact.? That’s a rather amazing legacy.
And if there’s ever going to be an award for the First Family of Labor Economics, I think Fran has that one covered, too.? A good chunk of her research is with her husband?Larry Kahn, who was almost certainly a close runner-up for this award.? And her daughter,?Lisa Kahn, is also a prominent labor economist, on leave from Yale serving as the labor point-person at the?Council of Economic Advisors.