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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

General Social Survey (GSS). Since 1972, the General Social Survey (GSS) has been monitoring societal change and studying the growing complexity of American society. The GSS is NORC’s longest running project, and one of its most influential. More

HighScope Perry Preschool Study. Sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the HighScope Perry Preschool Study (HPPS) is designed to teach us about the lasting effects of early childhood interventions, such as preschool programs.  The original Perry Preschool Program targeted a disadvantaged African American population in the 1960s. Evaluated initially by a clinical trial of preschool age children, participants were then followed periodically through age 40. Results from this longitudinal survey show strong evidence for the benefits of children in the treatment group in the areas of improved school readiness, higher female graduation rates, higher employment rates and earnings, reduced involvement in crime, and high economic return on investment. More

Housing Micro-Finance Programme Kyrgyzstan. NORC provided technical assistance related to the targeting and affordability of a housing loan program  designed to improve housing and related water and sanitation services to low-income households in Kyrgyzstan. More

IFC Indonesia Small and Medium Enterprise Banking Survey. The IFC contracted NORC to develop a survey that can be used by commercial banks to identify attractive market segments; determine appropriate channel, product, and marketing strategies; and inform decisions to accelerate or grow SME banking operations. More

Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF).

Sponsored by the Federal Reserve Board, this triennial survey is the only fully representative source of information on the broad financial circumstances of U.S. households. No other survey collects data on the household finances of a probability sample of Americans.  Data from the SCF are used to inform monetary policy, tax policy, consumer protection, and a variety of other policy issues. The data also serve as a basis for longer-term research on the economic state of the American family. 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