Mehrdad Esfahani
Department of Economics
Arizona State University
501 E. Orange St. Tempe, AZ 85287-9801
Placement Director: Dan Silverman, 480-965 4832
Placement Coordinator: Laura Talts, 480-727 7931
Arizona State University Tempe, AZ
Ph.D. Economics 2015 - present
Thesis Title: Essays on Cross-country Inequality and Income Differences
Expected Completion Date: May 2021
University of Tehran Tehran, Iran
Masters Degree, Economics 2011 - 2013
Sharif University of Technology Tehran, Iran
Bachelor of Science, Electrical Engineering 2006 - 2011
Research Fields
Income and Wealth Inequality
U.S. and Global Productivity Trends
Economic Growth and Development
Working Papers
Inequality Over the Life-Cycle: U.S. vs Europe (Job Market Paper).
Abstract: I document that (i) the mean and dispersion of pre-tax labor earnings grow faster over the
life-cycle in the U.S. than in some European countries; (ii) these facts are largely driven by individuals
with at least a college degree. I study these differences in labor earnings inequality using a life-cycle
model of human capital accumulation and elastic labor supply which features non-linear taxation, in
conjunction with a college choice and complementary investments during college. The model economy
accounts for the differential mean earnings growth patterns of individuals with and without a college
degree in the United States, as well as the observed within-group inequality over the life cycle. I
find that non-linear taxation significantly suppresses pre-tax earnings, reduces college attendance,
and investments during college. More generous subsidies and transfers for college exacerbate labor
earning inequality. I find that differences in taxation and college subsidies alone account for 94%
of the differences in mean earnings, and 79% of the differences in variance of log earnings over the
life-cycle across the U.S. and European countries. To fully reconcile the model with data, the role of
differences in initial conditions appear key.
World Productivity (1996-2014). (joint with and John Fernald and Bart Hobijn), Federal Re-
serve Bank of San Francisco Working Paper.
Abstract: We account for the sources of world productivity growth, using data for more than 36
industries and 40 major economies from 1996 to 2014, explicitly taking into account changes in the
misallocation of resources in labor, capital, and product markets. Productivity growth in advanced
economies slowed but emerging markets grew more quickly which kept global productivity growth
relatively constant until around 2010. After that, productivity growth in all major regions slowed.
Much of the volatility in world productivity growth reflects resource reallocations, particularly labor.
Using new data on PPP-based value-added measures by country and industry, about a third of
these shifts are due to employment growing in countries, most notably China and India, that benefit
from an international cost advantage. Markups are large and rising and impact the implied effect of
capital reallocation. However, they have little effect on the country-industry technology contribution
to global productivity.
Investment in Skills, Managerial Quality and Economic Development.
Abstract: I document that for a group of 38 countries ranging from low to high income: (1) the share
of skilled managers is higher in richer countries, (2) the relative income of managers to non-managers
is lower in richer countries, and (3) the relative income of skilled to unskilled individuals is lower in
richer countries. In addition, the share of managers is lower in richer countries while the mean plant
size is larger in richer countries. I explore these facts through the lens of a general equilibrium model
of investment in skills and occupational choice. Countries differ in productivity level in production
and the level of size-dependent distortions. I find that exogenous productivity differences alone can
produce the above facts qualitatively, but size-dependent distortions are needed to account for these
facts quantitatively and the output elasticity of productivity is 2.6.
Work in Progress
Normative Growth Accounting: The Distorted-Planner Approach, (joint with and John Fernald
and Bart Hobijn).
Lifetime Earnings Inequality Across U.S. and Europe: Males, Females, and Households.
Subjective Expectations and Earnings Dynamics in the U.S.
Who Benefits From College Subsidies? A Cross-country Analysis.
Research Awards
Best Written Third-Year Paper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2018
Hardison Award for Best Performance in Microeconomics Qualifying Exam . . . . . . . . . . 2016
Hardison Award for Best Performance in Macroeconomics Qualifying Exam . . . . . . . . . 2016
Graduate Research Assistance Scholarship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2015
Research References
Gustavo Ventura (co-chair) Bart Hobijn (co-chair)
Professor and Department Chair Professor
Department of Economics Department of Economics
Arizona State University Arizona State University
Phone: 480-965 5881 Phone: 480-965 0215
John G. Fernald
Professor, Senior Research Adviser
Economics and Political Science Area
INSEAD, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
Phone: 415-438 0684
Teaching Fields
Mathematical and Quantitative Economics
Teaching Experience
Instructor Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory
Syllabus, Student Evaluation: 4.8/5 Summer 2019
Teaching Assistant
Applied Regression Analysis
Professor Alex Hill Fall 2020
Macroeconomic Principles (Online)
Professor Bart Hobijn Summer 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020
Macroeconomic Analysis I (Ph.D.)
Professors Gustavo Ventura and Galina Vereshchagina Fall 2018
Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory
Professor Alex Hill Spring 2018
Mathematical Economics
Professor Kevin Reffett Spring 2018
Introduction to Econometrics
Professor Alvin Murphy Fall 2017
Microeconomic Analysis II (Ph.D.)
Professor Alejandro Manelli Spring 2017
Microeconomic Analysis I (Ph.D.)
Professor Edward Schlee Fall 2016
Teaching Awards
Distinguished Economics Graduate Instructor Award . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2019
Teaching References
Kelvin Wong Nancy Roberts
Clinical Assistant Professor Emeritus
Department of Economics Department of Economics
Arizona State University Arizona State University
Phone: 480-727 3787 Phone: 480-965 4683
Conference Presentations (* scheduled)
2020 - *Southern Economic Association
2020 - *Economics Graduate Student Conference
2019 - Society for Economic Dynamics
2019 - Midwest Macroeconomics Meeting
Statistical Analysis, Econometrics, Data Visualization
Expert: Python
Intermediate: SAS, SQL
Scientific Computing
Expert: Python, MATLAB
Intermediate: C++, Julia