Stanford Experts

Ran Abramitzky

Associate professor of economics




Ran Abramitzky’s research is in economic history and applied microeconomics, with focus on immigration and income inequality. He studies how human behavior varies in response to such factors as the ratio of men to women of marriageable age; international knowledge flows; migration; and productivity-based pay. One recent study found that men are attracted to high-earning women in populations with a shortage of men. Abramitzky’s research is concentrated around two themes: insurance and redistribution, and migration and migrant selection. On the first topic, he emphasizes the equality-incentives tradeoff as a major theme in economics and economic history, noting that societies throughout history have transferred significant resources between groups and individuals to achieve a more equal income distribution. However, the equality-incentives tradeoff provides valuable insurance but also encourages adverse selection and moral hazard. He uses various historical settings, ranging from socialist communes to business partnerships and from internal to international migration, to study the extent to which this tradeoff matters empirically and how it has shaped societies and institutions.The second theme is migration, specifically the selection mechanisms that determine who migrates and who does not, as well as the assimilation of immigrants in their new societies. He sheds light on these issues by studying internal and international migration episodes in various times and places. This strand of his research is closely tied to the first: the equality-incentives tradeoff has important implications for migration, as he shows that the relative income equality at the origin compared with the equality at the destination plays an important role in migrant selection.