Freeman, Richard B. 1944–
Freeman, Richard B. 1944–
(Richard Barry Freeman)
ADDRESSES: Office—Department of Economics, Harvard University, Littauer M-5, Cambridge, MA 02138; National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., 3rd Floor, Cambridge, MA 02138; and London School of Economics, Centre for Economic Performance, Houghton St., London WC2A 2AE, England. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Yale University, New Haven, CT, assistant professor, 1968–69; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, assistant professor of economics, 1969–70, associate professor, 1973–76, professor of economics, 1976–, became Herbert Ascherman Professor of Economics; University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, assistant professor of economics, 1970–72; National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, program director for Labor Studies, 1977–; London School of Economics, senior research fellow for Centre for Economic Performance; Harvard Law School, codirector of Labor and Worklife Program; has also worked as a research professor at the California Institute of Technology. Former research economist for the Harvard Economic Research Project and the Area Redevelopment Administration of the Committee for Economic Development. Lecturer at London School of Economics, 1989 and 1999, McMaster University, 1993, Oxford University, 1994, Yale University, 2003, University of Nottingham, 2003, and Georgia State University, 2005. Consultant on labor issues to labor unions, financial institutions, businesses, and government agencies around the world.
MEMBER: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Economics Association (president, 1997), Society of Labour Economics (president, 1997), American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sigma Xi.
AWARDS, HONORS: The Market for College-Trained Manpower was named one of the "Outstanding Books in Industrial Relations and Labor Economics, 1970–1979"; Working under Different Rules was selected by BusinessWeek as one of the "Top Ten Business Books of 1994"; awarded Doctor Honoris Causa, Universite de Mons Hainaut, Belgium; TIAA-CREF Institute fellow, 2005–06.
(Coauthor) Population, Labor Force & Unemployment in Chronically Depressed Areas, United States Department of Commerce, Area Redevelopment Administration, 1964.
The Market for College-Trained Manpower, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1971.
Labor Economics, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1972, 2nd edition, 1978.
(With Glen Cain and Lee Hansen) Labor Market Analysis of Engineers and Technical Workers, Johns Hopkins Press (Baltimore, MD), 1973.
(Coauthor) Forecasting the Ph.D. Labor Market: Pitfalls for Policy, National Board on Graduate Education, 1974.
The Overeducated American, Academic Press, 1976.
The Black Elite: The New Market for Highly Educated Black Americans, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1976.
The Declining Economic Value of Higher Education and the American Social System, Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, 1976.
The Effect of Trade Unionism on Fringe Benefits, National Bureau of Economic Research (Cambridge, MA), 1978.
Black Economic Progress after 1964: Who Has Gained and Why?, National Bureau of Economic Research (Cambridge, MA), 1978.
Unionism and the Dispersion of Wages, National Bureau of Economic Research (Cambridge, MA), 1978.
(With James L. Medoff) What Do Unions Do?, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1984.
Analysis of the Dynamics of the Job Creation Process in the United States and an Evaluation of Medium and Long Term Prospects, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1987.
Labor Markets in Action: Essays in Empirical Economics, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1989.
When Earnings Diverge: Causes, Consequences, and Cures for the New Inequality in the U.S., Committee on New American Realities of the National Policy Association (Washington, DC), 1997.
The New Inequality: Creating Solutions for Poor America, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1999.
(With Joel Rogers) What Workers Want, Cornell University Press (New York, NY), 1999.
(With Kimberly Ann Elliott) Can Labor Standards Improve under Globalization?, Institute for International Economics (Washington, DC), 2003.
Visible Hands: Labor Institutions in the Economy, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2006.
(With David A. Wise) The Youth-Labor Market Problem: Its Nature, Causes, and Consequences, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1982.
(With Harry Holzer) The Black Youth Employment Crisis, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1985.
(With Casey Ichniowski) When Public Sector Workers Unionize, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1988.
(With John Abowd) Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1991.
(With George Borjas) Immigration and the Work Force: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1992.
(With David Card) Small Differences that Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1993.
Working under Different Rules, Russell Sage Foundation (New York, NY), 1994.
(With Lawrence F. Katz) Differences and Changes in Wage Structures, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1995.
(With B. Swedenborg and R. Topel) The Welfare State in Transition: Reforming the Swedish Model, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1997.
(With Peter Gottschalk) Generating Jobs: How to Increase Demand for Less-Skilled Workers, Russell Sage Foundation (New York, NY), 1998.
(With David G. Blanchflower) Youth Employment and Joblessness in Advanced Countries, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2000.
(With David Card and Richard Blundell) Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980–2000, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2004.
(With Joni Hersch and Lawrence Mishel) Emerging Labor Market Institutions for the Twenty-first Century, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2005.
(With Peter Boxall and Peter Haynes) What Workers Say: Employee Voice in the Anglo-American World, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 2006.
Contributor to numerous books, including Gender in the Workplace, edited by C. Brown and J. Pechman, Brookings Institution, 1987; The Challenge of Restructuring: North American Labor Movements Respond, edited by Jane Jenson and Rianne Mahon, Temple University Press, 1992; Unions and Economic Competitiveness, edited by Lawrence Mishel and Paula B. Voos, M.E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY), 1992; Labor Market Institutions and the Future Role of Unions, edited by Mario F. Bognanno and Morris M. Kleiner, Blackwell (Cambridge, MA), 1992; Uneven Tides, edited by Sheldon Danziger and Peter Gottschalk, Sage Press, 1992; Labor Economics and Industrial Relations: Markets and Institutions, edited by Clark Kerr and Paul D. Staudohar, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1994; Works Councils: Consultation, Representation, Cooperation, edited by Joel Rogers and Wolfgang Streeck, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1995; Meaningful Relationships: Institutional Investors, Relational Investing, and the Future of Corporate Governance?, edited by Ronald Gilson, John C. Coffee, and Louis Lowenstein, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1997; The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century, edited by Michael Bordo, Claudia Goldin, and Eugene White, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1998; Foundations of Labor and Employment Law, edited by Samuel Estreicher and Stewart J. Schwab, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000; and Science and the University, edited by Ronald G. Ehrenberg and Paula E. Stephan, University of Wisconsin Press (Madison, WI), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including American Economic Review, Industrial and Labor Relations, New York Times, European Economic Review, Journal of Labor Economics, World Economics, Boston Review, and Chronicle of Higher Education. Series editor, National Bureau of Economic Research's Comparative Labor Market, University of Chicago Press. Freeman's books have been translated into French, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese.
WORK IN PROGRESS: The Labor Market Comes to China and Working at the Endless Frontier.
SIDELIGHTS: Richard B. Freeman is a Harvard professor of economics whose books reflect his liberal and pro-union economic theories. For example, in What Do Unions Do?, written with James L. Medoff, the author "aims to soften labor's fall from public grace and provide a more nearly balanced assessment of the impact of unions on the workplace and the economy," according to Arnold R. Weber in the New York Times Book Review. Many critics noted the recent rarity of a book that is actually pro-union when most economists have emphasized the perceived negative impacts that organized labor has had on industry. New Republic contributor Robert Kuttner, for one, labeled the work a "strikingly different view of unions and unionism … that recognizes the constructive role of unions as social institutions."
Using statistical analysis, Freeman and Medoff dispel a number of myths about unionism, concluding that unions actually help increase productivity, and that by offering more equitable pay and benefits to workers, the resulting job satisfaction reduces turnover; employers benefit, too, because they are more compelled to listen to employees' concerns, and they thus gain insights into how to improve policies and worker efficiency at their companies. Furthermore, because unions demand that employment terms be set down clearly in written contracts, there is less chance for job discrimination at unionized companies. The authors go on to add that unions, despite the commonly held belief, can also be beneficial to those who are not in unions because companies will offer their non-union workers higher wages to encourage them not to unionize.
Freeman and Medoff are not completely one-sided in their arguments, however, and they do acknowledge that there are some drawbacks to unions. As Daniel Seligman reported in Fortune, the authors "concede … that unionism represents monopoly power. They agree that it leads to misallocated resources and reduced aggregate output…. They cheerfully concede that unionized companies tend to be less profitable than they would otherwise be and that it is entirely rational for employers to resist being organized." Although the authors give various arguments that unions increase productivity, Seligman felt that "they are not so persuasive in arguing that this increase is desirable." Seligman added that "while making much of these efficiencies, Freeman and Medoff nowhere explicitly claim that they dominate the productivity data." Seligman also refuted the authors' assertion that more equal pay for workers is desirable, asserting instead that workers with different abilities should not get the same rate of pay, and that "plants with different costs [should not] be obliged to pay the same rate."
Despite these contrary opinions, however, many reviewers of What Do Unions Do? appreciated how it offers a different perspective on unions and praised its enlightening statistical data. Even Seligman called it "marvelous on several accounts. It is … a treasure trove of quantitative findings you are unlikely to have come across elsewhere." Weber summarized that "the authors conclude that, on balance, unions have been a constructive force in the economy and society in general. These judgments avoid the righteous assertions that often characterize popular discussions of unionism. Rather, they are the product of considerable artistry in the analysis and exposition of statistical data, giving the conclusions a prima facie credibility."
With What Workers Want, written with Joel Rogers, Freeman continues to make his case for improving the lot of the working class. Based on research drawn from the Worker Representation and Participation Survey, a project that the authors directed, Freeman and Rogers have been able to report on worker's attitudes around the country. "It was intended to introduce the voices of workers themselves into policy debates on labor laws that had previously been dominated largely by politicians, labor and management interests, and academic theorists," reported Joy K. Reynolds in Monthly Labor Review. Despite the immense amount of information in the book, Reynolds proclaimed that the result is "clear, concise, and even witty." She was also impressed with "the remarkable success the researchers had in eliciting informed responses" from survey participants. Not too surprisingly, the authors conclude in their book that workers wish to have more say in what goes on at their companies, and they want "more legal protections at the workplace, and more union representation."
One of the positive results of What Workers Want, said Reynolds, is that it contradicts "the elitist notion that workers are somehow incapable of examining their workplaces and their roles in them." The book was also praised by other critics. For example, Paul Osterman, writing in Labor History, called What Workers Want a "very valuable book…. The findings are broadly consistent with other surveys but no effort to date has been as sophisticated and convincing." Osterman went on to say that "the book is rich in careful analysis … and shows how the findings change when parsed in various ways. The book also provides very interesting material on a range of topics. We learn, for example, about workers' and managers' assessments of the productivity gains from various workplace innovations, their views regarding the desirability and effectiveness of government regulation, and how they think about what form the employees' organizations might take."
Freeman has also edited or coedited numerous books that include papers supporting his arguments for stronger unionization and more government involvement in business. He has, in addition, written on issues ranging from crime and education to youth labor and international markets.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Review of Public Administration, September 18, 1989, Richard C. Williams, review of When Public Sector Workers Unionize, p. 252.
Booklist, January 1, 1999, Mary Carroll, review of The New Inequality: Creating Solutions for Poor America, p. 804.
BusinessWeek, April 30, 1984, John Hoerr, review of What Do Unions Do?, p. 14; June 13, 1994, Aaron Bernstein, review of Working under Different Rules, p. 18.
Commonweal, February 8, 1985, Marc Levinson, review of What Do Unions Do?, p. 91.
Economic History Review, November, 2004, Roger Middleton, review of Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980–2000, pp. 790-791.
Economic Journal, November, 1998, Thomas Wilson, review of The Welfare State in Transition: Reforming the Swedish Model, p. 1961.
Fortune, May 28, 1984, Daniel Seligman, review of What Do Unions Do?, p. 215.
Industrial and Labor Relations Review, April, 1984, Brian Becker, review of The Youth Labor Market Problem: Its Nature, Causes, and Consequences, pp. 461-462; January, 1991, David Lewin, review of When Public Sector Workers Organize, pp. 367-368; October, 1992, Francine D. Blau, review of Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market, pp. 201-203; April, 1994, Harriet Orcutt Duleep, review of Immigration and the Work Force: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas, pp. 525-527; October, 1999, Ulf Himmelstrand, review of The Welfare State in Transition, p. 158.
International Journal of Social Economics, January, 1996, Walter Block, "Comment of Richard B. Freeman's 'Labor Markets and Institutions in Economic Development,'" p. 6.
Journal of Economic Literature, December, 1989, Janet Currie, review of When Public Sector Workers Unionize, p. 1722; March, 1992, Barry R. Chiswick, review of Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market, p. 212; September, 1996, Thomas Lemieux, review of Differences and Changes in Wage Structures, p. 1369; December, 2000, Joop Hartog, review of Youth Employment and Joblessness in Advanced Countries, p. 965, and Henry S. Farber, review of What Workers Want, p. 967.
Labor History, August, 2000, Paul Osterman, review of What Workers Want, p. 385.
Labor Studies Journal, summer, 1999, Bruce Nissen, review of The Welfare State in Transition, p. 91.
Library Journal, April 15, 1984, review of What Do Unions Do?, p. 802.
Monthly Labor Review, April, 2000, Joy K. Reynolds, review of What Workers Want, p. 32; April, 2005, Andrew Cohen, "A Race to the Top," review of Can Labor Standards Improve under Globalization?, p. 49.
New Leader, May 14, 1984, A. H. Raskin, review of What Do Unions Do?, p. 15.
New Republic, March 25, 1985, Robert Kuttner, review of What Do Unions Do?, p. 25.
New York Times Book Review, June 10, 1984, Arnold R. Weber, review of What Do Unions Do?; November 17, 1985, C. Gerald Fraser, review of What Do Unions Do?, p. 50.
Political Science Quarterly, summer, 2004, Ethan B. Kapstein, review of Can Labor Standards Improve under Globalization, p. 390.
Progressive, February, 1985, David Moberg, review of What Do Unions Do?, p. 44.
Southern Economic Journal, April, 1995, John G. Marcis, review of Small Differences that Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States, p. 1252.
Welfare Economy, July, 1999, Richard Disney, review of The Welfare State in Transition, p. 701.