White House Economist Alan Krueger Answers Your Questions

We recently solicited your questions for Alan Krueger, chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers. Below are Krueger's answers, in which he talks about the Bush tax cuts, the American Jobs Act, and why NFL coaches should go for it on fourth down. Thanks to everyone for participating.

Q. The recovery from the recent recession has been great for corporate profits, but not so great for employment. I think that this is a natural result of the fact that when demand is insufficient, corporations focus on improving productivity rather than on producing more goods and services.

What can be done to increase employment? -Adam

Bring Your Questions for White House Economist Alan Krueger

The Council of Economic Advisers last week released its annual Economic Report of the President.  The CEA's report, which dates back to 1947, aims to provide "an overview of the nation's economic progress" while presenting "the Administration’s domestic and international economic policies."  This year's report lays out the "defining issue of our time":

One of the fundamental tenets of the American economy has been that if you work hard, you can do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little money away for retirement. That’s the promise of America.

The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do very well while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.

How Much Did Americans' Financial Illiteracy Contribute to the Great Recession?

We're working on a new Freakonomics Radio podcast about financial illiteracy, a topic we've visited a few times on this blog. Two guests you'll hear from in the episode have held the same title: chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors.

First up is current chairman Alan Krueger, whom I asked what would improve if Americans were more financially literate:

KRUEGER: I think first and foremost, we’d probably have greater savings. People are often in a situation where they have to live paycheck to paycheck. That’s something I think we need as a country to work to improve. Most importantly I think we can improve income growth for the broad middle class. But many people who seem to have the wherewithal to save for the future find it difficult to save.

Who Is Alan B. Krueger?

President Barack Obama nominated a new chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors on Monday: Princeton labor economist Alan B. Krueger will replace outgoing chair Austan Goolsbee. Krueger, 50, is known as a strict "empiricist" with a broad range of economic knowledge, having researched topics as diverse as subjective well-being to the relationship between the minimum wage and employment.

His 2007 book, What Makes a Terrorist, explores the economic roots of modern-day terrorism. Which Levitt has blogged about here on several occasions. Krueger was also presented Freakonomics with an award in 2006 at the National Council on Economic Education.

Krueger's biggest asset in the job will likely be his expertise as a labor economist, as the Obama administration is desperate to reduce unemployment heading into the 2012 election.

Should We Hope Congestion Gets Worse?

One of the less cheery parts of studying transportation is that the activity you have devoted your life to is widely considered an unmitigated downer. Even aside from the external environmental costs each trip places on society, travel is held to be no fun for the traveler. We don't hop behind the wheel for the love of being honked at, cut off and stuck behind a creeping bus or semi; we endure travel only because we've got someplace to go. Right?

Subjective Well-Being Inside the Obama Administration

An interesting observation about the potential policy impact of "happiness economics" in this weekend's Financial Times from the always-astute Tim Harford...

Middle-Class Suicide Bombers

Economist Alan Krueger‘s excellent work on terrorism — which we’ve discussed before — comes to the conclusion that suicide bombers tend to be surprisingly well-educated. They are not generally the poorest of the poor; in fact, they are more likely to be middle class members of society. Now it turns out that further support for […]

The FREAKest Links: Terrorists, Phones, and Breast Exams Edition

Mirroring Levitt’s thoughts on doctors plotting terrorist attacks, the Wall Street Journal takes an in-depth look at Alan Krueger‘s findings that terrorists tend to come from high-income, high-education families. David Pogue of the New York Times points out that, in the midst of last week’s iPhone mania, most of us missed T-Mobile’s announcement of a […]

Doctors on Suicide Bombing Missions? Not as Strange as It Seems.

So much for the Hippocratic Oath. The latest terror attacks in the United Kingdom were apparently carried out by doctors. The specifics of the case are admittedly bizarre, but the general principle that acts of terror are often committed by individuals with high levels of education is not at all unusual, a fact I learned […]