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Economics

Our understanding and expectations of lifetime employment—what a career can or should be—is evolving rapidly.  At the same time, increasing global competition and economic fluctuation and crisis complicate the dynamic between costs and wages and individual access to essential goods and services.

NORC’s economic research has sought to capture diverse labor experiences and the trajectories of careers over time, yielding a wealth of data critical to understanding local economies as well as national and global economic stability. In addition to labor, this research encompasses a broad range of studies in education, training, consumption, personal success, small business, family finances, and more. As early as World War II, NORC helped assess the impact of government campaigns, such as rationing and recycling, on American households. NORC is also home to the triennial Federal Reserve Board’s Consumer Finance Survey, one of the best and only sources of information on the financial circumstances of U.S. households. In fact, it was researchers at NORC who helped establish the now widely accepted concept of the “economics of family.” 

The General Social Survey (GSS), NORC’s flagship survey and one of its longest running projects, is entering its fourth decade. One of the most frequently cited sources of social science information, the GSS provides an ongoing, cross-disciplinary view of American society and culture, including educational opportunities and vocation. The National Longitudinal Studies, launched by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the 1960s, began as an exploration into why increasing numbers of men were leaving the work force before retirement. It has since evolved—with the addition of women and their biological offspring—into an exceptionally rich mine of labor, family, and financial insights across generations. Drawing from this work, NORC helped establish one of the most prominent collections of data on education, labor, and their economic outcomes: the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 and 1997.

Using telephone, in-person and computer-assisted interviews, NORC has achieved a high response rate and expertise with these longitudinal survey instruments. NORC also draws from landmark studies in its other focus areas—particularly education—to create new knowledge about the impact of economic conditions, policies and programs.
 
Specific areas of expertise include:

Representative Projects

Economic Shocks, Neighborhood Food Infrastructure and Very Low Food Security Among Children. Drawing on a recent panel survey of a representative sample of metropolitan Detroit, Scott Allard and U Michigan researchers will explore the extent to which two types of adverse economic shocks experienced by low-income households with children—job loss and parental divorce or separation—are associated with increased risk of very low food security among children. We will further explore the importance of food assistance program participation and access to the local food resource infrastructure as key moderators of these relationships. To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the relationships between economic shocks, access to local food resources, and child food security. More

High School and Beyond Follow-up Survey. NORC, in partnership with the University of Texas Austin, has secured a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to conduct a follow-up study with the 1980 sophomore cohort of the High School and Beyond (HS&B) sample. This project will re-contact the nationally representative HS&B sophomore sample members (N=14,825) just before most turn 50 years old.  This follow-up survey will collect some current information on sample members' labor force experience, health status, family roles, and expectations for continued work and retirement.  These data will become part of a robust data source that will also include data from the 1980 base year survey and from the four follow-ups that took place between 1982 and 1992. This valuable resource will be used to study a number of issues related to the consequences for midlife health and labor force participation of adolescent and early adult circumstances and characteristics. More

Housing Finance in the Palestinian Territories. ​NORC worked to evaluate and improve housing finance capabilities in the Palestinian Territories with the World Bank’s FIRST Initiative, a special-project facility to support improvements to operations of financial markets in emerging countries. More

Nigeria Sub-National Investment Climate Improvement. This project, undertaken for the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group, focused on problems with real property transactions in Nigeria that are creating disincentives to investment and leading to informality in property markets. More

Reintegration of Ex-Offenders Random Assignment Evaluation. The Reintegration of Ex-Offenders Random Assignment Evaluation Study (RExO), funded by Department of Labor, is designed to provide a rigorous, random assignment evaluation of a demonstration program serving formerly incarcerated individuals through employment-centered programs. The evaluation will examine impacts on participants’ post-program labor market outcomes and criminal recidivism by comparing the outcomes of participants to randomly-assigned individuals who are eligible for, but do not receive, services. More

See all Economics projects

Headlines

News CNN Money: The AP-NORC Center provides insight in to wealth and income in the U.S. More
Posted: 7.22.2014 4:19PM
News Crain's Chicago Business: NORC Senior Fellow Carroll Joynes talks about the prospect of George Lucas's museum coming to Chicago More
Posted: 7.10.2014 4:52PM
News The Huffington Post: HOW Survey of Consumer Finance reflects on the work of French economist Thomas PikettyThomas More
Posted: 6.4.2014 4:40PM
News Yahoo! News: The GSS looks at how people link trust and intelligence, and March Madness business practices may just be affected by both More
Posted: 3.25.2014 8:58AM
News Chicago Tribune: Most Americans expect to work during 'retirement,' poll finds More
Posted: 10.30.2013 11:43AM

Contacts

Chet Bowie

(301) 634-9334

Jeffrey Telgarsky

(301) 634-9413

Jeffrey Hackett

(312) 759-4266

Tom W. Smith

(773) 256-6288