Edward Lazear: Leading the Way in Labor Economics and Public Policy


Edward Lazear is a renowned economist who has made significant contributions to the field of labor economics and public policy. He is well-known for his work in human capital theory, which explores how investment in education and training can increase productivity and earnings. Lazear’s research has influenced policymakers around the world, and he has served as an advisor to several US presidents.

Early Life and Education

Edward Lazear was born on August 17, 1948, in Los Angeles, California. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia, and his father was a lawyer. Lazear attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where he majored in mathematics, and then went on to earn a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1974.

Academic Career

After completing his Ph.D., Lazear joined the faculty at the University of Chicago, where he taught for several years before moving to Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business in 1992. At Stanford, he held the Davies Family Professorship of Economics, as well as several other prominent positions including the Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution.

Throughout his academic career, Lazear published numerous influential papers and books, including “Education and Unemployment”, “Performance Pay and Productivity”, and “Personnel Economics for Managers”. His work on human capital theory helped shape the way economists and policymakers think about the role of education in the economy and led to a greater focus on the importance of investing in training and education to boost productivity.

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Public Policy

Lazear’s impact on public policy was substantial. He served as chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush from 2006 to 2009, where he played a key role in shaping economic policy during a time of significant economic upheaval. He was also a member of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board under President Barack Obama.

As an economic advisor, Lazear was known for his commitment to evidence-based policy-making and his ability to explain complex economic concepts in a way that policymakers could understand. He was a vocal advocate of free markets and low taxes, but also recognized the importance of government intervention in certain areas, such as education and infrastructure.

In addition to his work at the White House, Lazear was involved in a number of other initiatives to improve economic outcomes for Americans. He served on the board of directors for several companies and nonprofit organizations, including the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

Honors and Awards

Lazear’s contributions to the field of economics have been recognized through numerous honors and awards. In 1995, he was elected a fellow of the Econometric Society, an international organization devoted to the advancement of economic theory in its relation to statistics and mathematics. He was also a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford from 1999 to 2000.

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In 2004, Lazear was awarded the Jacob Mincer Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Labor Economics, which is given by the Society of Labor Economics to recognize outstanding contributions in the field. He also received the Adam Smith Award from the National Association for Business Economics in 2011, which honors individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of economics and have demonstrated a commitment to free markets.


Throughout his career, Edward Lazear has been a leading voice in labor economics and public policy. From his work on human capital theory to his service as a top economic advisor to US presidents, Lazear has been an influential figure shaping our understanding of how the economy works and how government policies can help to improve economic outcomes. His contributions to economics have been recognized through numerous awards and honors and his legacy will continue to influence the field for years to come.

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