MIP network member Nathaniel Hendren sat down with HCEO recently to discuss his research in a video interview, which focuses on the intersection of theoretical and empirical work on public economics in a broad range of areas. Hendren's doctoral thesis, which won the John Heinz Dissertation Award from the National Academy of Social Insurance and the Geneva Association’s Ernst Meyer Prize, found that private information held by potential applicants prevents insurers from offering health insurance at any price. This work sought to identify the friction that was preventing people from being able to purchase insurance policies, even at higher prices. "People that have these observably high-risk characteristics have more knowledge than what the insurance companies can ascertain about their risk," Hendren says.
More recently, his work with Raj Chetty looks at how growing up in different neighborhoods impacts intergenerational mobility. "We see an enormous amount of variation in the extent to which kids rise up out of poverty in the U.S. and it looks like it's the causal effect, in large part, of growing up in those neighborhoods," Hendren says. Not only do neighborhoods matter, but "they matter in proportion to exposure time." In other words, "The earlier you move to a better neighborhood, the better your kids do," he says. Hendren's work helps motivate government policies by looking at which types of interventions are effective.
Hendren is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Harvard University and is a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He has been a faculty member of HCEO's Summer School on Socioeconomic Inequality Chicago for the past two years. He earned a B.S. in mathematics and economics from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.