Upjohn Institute announces inaugural Dissertation Research Grants

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The Upjohn Institute has chosen six doctoral students to receive its first slate of Dissertation Research Grants. The grants each provide up to $10,000 to support students at U.S. institutions who have completed all doctoral program requirements except for their dissertation.

Consistent with the Upjohn Institute’s mission of finding solutions to employment problems and its commitment to encouraging diversity in research, the awards support research on employment-related topics with particular interest in policy-relevant research pertaining to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

Grants can help researchers pay for expenses such as acquiring or gaining access to data and research assistance. Grantees may be invited to present their research at the Upjohn Institute.

The Upjohn Institute presents the awards in partnership with the Russell Sage Foundation. The 2023 grantees are:

  • Alaa Abdelfattah, University of California, Davis
  • Amanda Bonheur, University of California, San Diego
  • Jaylexia Clark, University of Notre Dame
  • Kevin Dwyre, University of Delaware
  • Brandon Enriquez, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Ethan Jenkins, University of Notre Dame

Details on grantees' dissertation research topics:

Alaa Abdelfattah, University of California, Davis

 “What is the Spillover Effect of Large Firm Entry on Skill Demand in Local Labor Markets?”

Since 1990, government spending on firm-specific subsidies has tripled, reaching $46 billion in 2015. These subsidies are often offered by local and state governments to encourage the development of new manufacturing plants and headquarters in specific locations, yet little is known about how these large subsidies and subsequent million-dollar plant (MDPs) openings affect local labor markets. Economist Alaa Abdelfattah will investigate the impacts of opening MDPs on local labor markets. She will analyze job posting vacancy data from Lightcast for her study.


Amanda Bonheur, University of California, San Diego

“When Perfect is Detrimental to Diversity: The Hidden Cost of Strict Job Qualification Requirements”

Despite years of trying to correct inequality in the hiring process, application gaps persist for women and workers of color. Amanda Bonheur will investigate whether changes in qualification requirements in job ads can mitigate the application gap and diversify the applicant pool. She will conduct a large-scale reverse audit study field experiment for her project.


Jaylexia Clark, University of Notre Dame

“Structuring Gig Work: An Investigation of How Racial and Gender Occupational Segregation Shape Labor Participation in the On-Demand Service Economy Within U.S. Counties Between 2010-2019”

In the United States, the number of individuals relying on on-demand gig work as their main source of income is dramatically increasing. However, previous research shows that gig work depresses wages, and is precarious and unprotected work. Sociologist Jaylexia Clark will investigate how racial and gendered occupational segregation shape labor participation in the on-demand gig economy. She will analyze data from the American Community Survey and U.S. Census data for her study.


Kevin Dwyre, University of Delaware

“A Share of the Machine: Techno-Politics, Labor, & the Crisis of Postwar Automation”

Current discussions of automation often frame it as a phenomenon to which workers must adapt and adjust. However, labor organizations have previously fought to limit and control the implementation of automation. Political scientist Kevin Dwyre will examine how unions have historically negotiated automation and technological change in the workplace. He will conduct case studies on the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the United Packinghouse Workers of American union, and the United Auto Workers unions for his study.


Brandon Enriquez, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“The Effect of the Japan Trade Shock on Black and White Workers”

The decline in manufacturing is a key reason why the Black-White wage gap, which closed significantly from the 1930s to the 1970s, stopped converging in the 1970s and still persists. Coinciding with the decline in manufacturing was a dramatic increase in import competition from Japan. Economist Brandon Enriquez will investigate whether the increase in Japanese imports impacted manufacturing employment and if these impacts varied by race. He will analyze data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the United Nations Comtrade database, the Census, and the NBER-CES Manufacturing Database for his study.


Ethan Jenkins, University of Notre Dame

“The Effects of Unemployment Insurance on Low-Income Families”

The primary purpose of unemployment insurance (UI) programs is to help beneficiaries maintain their standard of living over employment-related income shocks. However, little is known about whether UI prevents extreme material hardship. Economist Ethan Jenkins will investigate the effect of UI on extreme outcomes such as eviction, homelessness, and criminal involvement. He will analyze New York City and state administrative data and credit data for his study.

Date: May 23, 2023