My primary research interest is the economic and econometric analysis of social programs. I started research in this field in the early 1970s when I worked with my friend David Kershaw to develop a policy research organization that ultimately became Mathematica Policy Research. Since that time, I have studied a variety of social policies including welfare reform, training programs for disadvantaged workers, trade adjustment assistance, and food stamps. In recent years most of my research has focused on unemployment insurance programs in the United States and Canada. Two topics that I have found particularly interesting are: (1) How benefits should be extended during recessions; and (2) Whether adoption of short-time compensation programs (under which workers are paid partial unemployment benefits for hours' reductions) would reduce the incidence of layoffs.
For the last five years I have been working with the Canadian government to structure evaluations of its employment and training programs. This has involved both the development of general conceptual foundations at the national level and detailed econometric studies of programs in various provinces. Working on this project has introduced me to a number of new and innovative econometric procedures.
Although not strictly research, I also spend considerable time improving my microeconomic theory textbook. Over the ten editions of this book, I have tried to learn about innovations in economic theory and to make them accessible to advanced students. My coauthor (Chris Snyder from Dartmouth) and I are currently working on the 11th edition in which we plan on including some material from behavioral economics among other improvements.