Carl Nadler

Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, UC Berkeley

I am a labor economist and postdoctoral scholar at the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics (CWED) at UC Berkeley. My research focuses on the minimum wage, labor regulation enforcement, and the influence of social networks on economic outcomes.

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University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D.
New York University, B.F.A.
Email: cnadler [at] berkeley [dot] edu

Recent research
Are Local Minimum Wages Too High, and How Could We Even Know? (w/ Sylvia Allegretto, Anna Godoey, and Michael Reich)

We measure the effects of six citywide minimum wages that ranged up to $13 in Chicago, the District of Columbia, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle, employing event study and synthetic control methods. Using aggregate data on average earnings and employment in the food services industry, we find significantly positive earnings increases and no significant employment losses. While such evidence suggests the policies raised the earnings of low-wage workers, as intended, a competing explanation is that the industry responds to wage increases by increasing their demand for more productive higher-wage workers, offsetting low-wage layoffs (i.e., labor-labor substitution). To tackle this key question, we present a theoretical framework that connects the responses estimated at the industry-level to the own- and cross-wage labor demand elasticities that summarize the total effect of the policies on workers. Using a calibration exercise, we find that the combination of average earnings gains and constant employment cannot be produced by labor-labor substitution unless there are also effects on hours. To test whether the minimum wage increases demand for higher-wage workers or reduces low-wage workers' hours, we examine the effects of California's recent state and local minimum wage policies on the food services industry. There we find no evidence of labor-labor substitution or hours responses. Thus, the most likely explanation for the responses we find in the cities is that the industry's demand for low-wage workers is inelastic, and the policies raised their earnings. 

The New Wave of Local Minimum Wage Policies: Evidence from Six Cities (Policy Report) (w/ Sylvia Allegretto, Anna Godoey, and Michael Reich)

In the past few years, a wave of state and local activity has transformed minimum wage policy in the United States, and we now have some of the highest minimum wages in U.S. history. We examine the effects of minimum wage policies that ranged up to $13 by the end of 2016, the last period of our data availability, in six large cities: Chicago, the District of Columbia, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle. Using data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages on cities and counties, we employ event study and synthetic control methods to assess these policies’ effects on earnings and employment in food services—a low-wage industry—and in a high-wage placebo industry. Our findings indicate statistically significant pay increases and no significant employment losses. These findings are supported by a series of robustness tests.

The Dynamics of Networked Labor Markets: Evidence from Freelancers (revision requested at Quantitative Economics) (previously titled "Networked Inequality: Evidence from Freelancers")

I measure the dynamic effects of early formed connections to supervisors on the labor market outcomes of freelancers working on Hollywood movies using screen credit data. I consider three channels: (1) the accumulation of new connections to supervisors worked with after the first year, (2) the returns to forming stronger relationships with supervisors, and (3) the effects of indirect connections. I develop a model that allows me to separate these effects from unobserved heterogeneity across workers and movies. These channels account for 75 percent of the returns to initial network position on the number of jobs held over 10 years.

Tipped Wage Effects on Earnings and Employment in Full-Service Restaurants (w/ Sylvia Allegretto) Industrial Relations, 54 (October 2015), pp. 622–647.
Featured in Vox.

We exploit more than 20 years of changes in state-level tipped wage policy and estimate earnings and employment effects of the tipped wage using county-level panel data on full-service restaurants, comparing outcomes between contiguous counties that straddle a state border. We find a 10-percent increase in the tipped wage increases earnings in full-service restaurants about 0.4 percent. Employment elasticities are sensitive to the inclusion of controls for unobserved spatial heterogeneity. In our preferred models, we find small, insignificant effects of the tipped wage on full-service restaurant employment.

Works in Progress
Enforcement of Labor Regulation and the Dynamics of Informal Employment: Evidence from Brazil (w/ Rodrigo Saurin and Ian Schmutte)

A key issue in developing countries is whether enforcement of labor regulations may influence the allocation of labor and encourage employment in less productive industries, especially the informal sector. In some developing countries like Brazil, however, much if not most informal work occurs when formally registered firms hire workers informally "off the books." We measure the effect of labor enforcement on the use of informal labor in the formal sector. To do this, we merge matched employer-employee data on the formal sector in Brazil with the universe of labor enforcement inspections from the Brazilian Ministry of Labor. With these data, we can identify workers previously working off the books at the time of the inspection. Using this information, we will analyze how enforcement differs across formally registered plants, and provide new information on the consequences of these enforcement practices on the dynamics of informal employment.

The Minimum Wage and Health: Evidence from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (w/ Sylvia Allegretto)

We exploit over 20 years of changes in federal and state minimum wage policies to measure the effect of the minimum wage on adult health outcomes, using nationally representative data from the 1993 to 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). For researchers using health surveys such as the BRFSS, an important challenge is that the surveys collect limited information on respondents’ labor market outcomes, such as earnings, occupation, or industry. We will address this challenge using machine learning methods to classify respondents into likely minimum wage workers using the available demographic information. To do so, we will train a model for the probability a respondent is a minimum wage worker on the Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Groups (CPS ORG), a nationally representative survey of the US labor force. Unlike the BRFSS, the CPS ORG contains information on the hourly wages of respondents, allowing us to observe which respondents are covered by their states’ minimum wage policy each year.

Popular writing
'Raise the Wage' Advocates Have Reason for Optimism (w/ Sylvia Allegretto and Michael Reich) The Hill, September 11, 2018.

Earlier publications
Risk Aversion and Support for Merit Pay: Theory and Evidence from Minnesota’s Q Comp Program (w/ Matthew Wiswall) Education Finance and Policy, 6 (Winter 2011), pp. 75–104.

Recent research attributes the lack of merit pay in teaching to the resistance of teachers. This article examines whether the structure of merit pay affects the types of teachers who support it. We develop a model of the relative utility teachers receive from merit pay versus the current fixed schedule of raises. We show that if teachers are risk averse, teachers with higher base salaries would be more likely to support a merit pay program that allows them to keep their current base salary and risk only future salary increases. We test the predictions of the model using data from a new merit pay program, the Minnesota Q Comp program, which requires the approval of the teachers in each school district. Consistent with the model's predictions, we find that districts with higher base salaries and a higher proportion of teachers with master's degrees are more likely to approve merit pay.

From ‘Overweight’ to ‘About Right’: Evidence of a Generational Shift in Body Weight Norms (w/ Mary Burke and Frank Heiland) Obesity, 18 (June 2010), pp. 1226–1234.

In this article, we describe differences in the self‐perception of weight status in the United States between the two recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) periods (1988–1994 and 1999–2004), and test the hypothesis that secular increases in adult mean BMI, adult obesity, and childhood obesity contributed to changes over time in weight perceptions. We find that the probability of self‐classifying as overweight is significantly lower on average in the more recent survey, for both women and men, controlling for objective weight status and other factors. As a result, people may be less likely to desire weight loss than previously, limiting the effectiveness of public health campaigns aimed at weight reduction. On the other hand, there may be health benefits associated with improved body image.