H. John Heinz III Professor of Economics, Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University.
Ph.D. 1989 Economics, University of Michigan
Lowell J. Taylor is the H. John Heinz III Professor of Economics at the Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University, where he has been on the faculty since 1990. Lowell conducts important research in economics, statistics, and demography and is a key contributor to the College’s educational mission. He has also contributed to the public interest more generally by serving as a senior economist with President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors, where he worked on issued related to labor, health, and education policy.
Over his career, Lowell has worked on a wide range of research questions. The hallmark of his research is that it addresses basic issues in economic theory and statistical methodology, and at the same time studies topics that are directly relevant to current policy debates—for example, research on racial and gender inequality, and on incentives in health care and health insurance markets.
Lowell’s work in economic demography includes empirical analyses of gay and lesbian households in the U.S. He is co-author of the first paper studying this population ever to appear in Demography, the flagship journal in the field. That paper, which demonstrated how data from the U.S. Census can be used to study the gay and lesbian population, is foundational. It led to a new, rapidly growing, sub-field in demography. He also co-authored the first paper on the economics of gay and lesbian families ever to appear in a journal published by the leading scholarly organization for economists, the American Economic Association.
The most prominent of Lowell’s papers study the basic functioning of labor markets. On the theoretical level, his research shows how firm-level incentive structures can shape fundamental labor market outcomes in surprising and important ways. Thus, Lowell’s research shows how incentives can lead to a “rat race” equilibrium in professional labor markets, in which all participants work inefficiency long hours. As a second example, his works shows how racial disparity in unemployment emerges in labor markets even when no employer engages in racial discrimination.
Over the past few years, Lowell has been involved in a collaborative research effort analyzing the clinical and economic barriers to improving the U.S. system of health care finance and delivery. His recent work on physician incentives in HMOs won the Health Care Research Award from the National Institute for Health Care. A second paper, which examines market imperfections in health insurance markets, and studies optimal policy responses, is forthcoming in the American Economic Review.
Lowell’s academic articles have appeared in leading general-interest economic journals, the American Economic Review, Quarterly Journal of Economics, and Journal of Political Economy; the top field journals in his areas of economic expertise, the Journal of Labor Economics, Journal of Public Economics, and Journal of Health Economics; and the flagship journals of statistics and demography, the Journal of the American Statistical Association and Demography.
Lowell is an accomplished teacher—a three-time winner of the top teaching award at the Heinz College.