The NORC Library Consumer at check out counter A teaching moment in NORC's Hyde Park office NORC's work supplies insight for informed decisions. NORC Atlanta Entrance Lobby in Chicago NORC office
NORC Hyde Park Lobby Sign


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

Bank of Spain Survey of Household Finances. The Survey of Household Finances collects data on the investment and financial decisions of Spanish households. It is the sole source of disaggregated data of its kind in Spain and forms an important source of data for research and public policy.  More

Food Assistance During and After the Great Recession in Metropolitan Detroit. Food Assistance During and After the Great Recession in Metropolitan Detroit will use unique panel survey data from a representative sample of working-age adults in the Detroit Metropolitan Area to explore three research questions related to the receipt of SNAP among low-income households: How have low-income families in the Detroit Metropolitan Area bundled SNAP with other types of public assistance, help from charitable nonprofits, and informal social support in the wake of the Great Recession? When controlling for economic shocks and respondent characteristics, to what extent is access to local food assistance resources related to receipt of SNAP assistance? How are receipt of SNAP assistance and economic shocks related to household food shopping behaviors, food security, and financial hardship? 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

Secure Data Access Facility (SDAF) for the National Science Foundation (NSF). The National Science Foundation awarded a contract to NORC to create a Secure Data Access Facility (SDAF) to house the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) and Survey of Doctorate Recipients (SDR) data and metadata and to provide secure remote access and technical support to authorized researchers at the direction of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Division of Science Resources Statistics (SRS). More

See all Economics projects


Sparks: The NORC Blog Jared Sullivan: Industrial Real Estate, Backbone of the Nation’s Economy More
Posted: 3.23.2015 4:31PM
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


Chet Bowie

(301) 634-9334

Jeffrey Telgarsky

(301) 634-9413

Jeffrey Hackett

(312) 759-4266

Tom W. Smith

(773) 256-6288