MIP network member Bryan Graham is Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is an econometrician with research interests in network formation, the identification of peer group effects, panel data, and missing data problems (including those related to causal inference). In 2019, Graham published the book The Econometrics Analysis of Network Data, with Aureo de Paula. He was co-editor at the Review of Economics and Statistics from 2014 to 2020. Graham received a B.A. in Quantitative Economics from Tufts University in 1997, an M.Phil. in Economics from Oxford University in 2000, and a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University in 2005.
Describe your area of study and how it relates to current policy discussions surrounding inequality.
I am an econometrician. Much of my work relates to econometric models of network formation and social interaction. An individual's social connections may be an important source of information (e.g., about jobs) and also of support. Inequality in one's network may manifest itself in other outcomes, such as education and earnings. This is an old idea in the social sciences. Unfortunately the statistics of networks are quite complicated. Usually we resolve statistical uncertainty by averaging many pieces of independent information. In networks everything depends on everything else! There are other challenges as well. For example those arising from the fact that many behaviorial models of network formation suggest that multiple equilibria are possible.
What areas in the study of inequality are most in need of new research?
I think a better understanding of the role of networks and social spillovers would be helpful. Such an understanding would have implications for education and housing policy. Of course, understanding variation in consequential economic outcomes is at the core of all fields of economics.
What advice do you have for emerging scholars in your field?
Work on those questions which excite you and that you think are important. Science involves community, of course; so it is important to be mindful of your audience and to cultivate one, but one should pursue ideas because you are curious and/or passionate about them, not because they are fashionable.