Focus areas: Contracts, law, economics, labor economics
W. Bentley MacLeod is Sami Mnaymneh Professor of Economics, Professor of International and Public Affairs, and an affiliated Law Faculty at Columbia University in the City of New York. He is a specialist in law, labor and contract economics, with a focus on how incentives are designed to take into account the complex interplay between reputation effects, market competition, and social norms. Current projects include incentives and school choice, the economics of contract and tort law, the economics of performance pay, and the economics of physician diagnostic choice.
His recent publications include “Optimal Contracting in the Shadow of the Law,” Rand Journal of Economics, 2009 (with S. Chakravarty); “Performance Pay and Wage Inequality”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2009 (joint with T. Lemieux and D. Parent); “First Do Not Harm: Tort Reform and Birth Outcomes”, Quarterly Journal of Economics (2008) (with J. Currie); “Reputations, Relationships and Contract Enforcement”, Journal of Economics Literature (2007); and "Optimal Contracting with Subjective Evaluation," American Economic Review (2003).
MacLeod is the recipient of the 2002 H. Gregg Lewis prize awarded by the Society of Labor Economists for his article "Worker Cooperation and the Ratchet" with H. Lorne Carmichael and is a fellow of the Econometric Society since 2005. Fellow of the Society of Labor Economists since 2012. His teaching career begun with a two year stint teaching mathematics and physics at Okundi Secondary School in Nigeria, an experience that led to his interest in economics in order to understand the large variations national economic performance. After completing his PhD in economics, he has taught at Queen's University, Université de Montréal, Boston College, University of Southern California, California Institute of Technology and Princeton University, before coming to Columbia University. He has held one year visiting positions at CORE, Belgium, IAE, Barcelona, Russell Sage Foundation, New York and The Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, NJ.
MacLeod holds a B.A. (with distinction) and an M.Sc. in mathematics from Queen's University, Kingston, Canada and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. He is married to Janet Currie, and has four (perfect!) children - Raisa, Gabriella, Joana and Ben.


  • "Accidental Death and the Rule of Joint and Several Liability," National Science Foundation, 2012 (with D. Carvall and J. Currie)
  • "Transaction Costs and the Employment Contract in the US Economy," Harvard Dataverse Network, 2014 (with D. Parent)
  • "Employment Protection, Bonus Pay and Labor Market Performance," Harvard Dataverse Network, 2014 (with A. Falk, D. Huffman)
  • "Legal Default Rules: The Case of Wrongful Discharge Laws," Economic Journal, 2007 (with V. Nakavarchara)
  • "First Do Not Harm: Tort Reform and Birth Outcomes", Quarterly Journal of Economics (2008) (with J. Currie)
  • "Cut to the Bone? Hospital Takeovers and Nurse Employment Contracts," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 2005 (with J. Currie and M. Farsi)
  • "Performance Pay and Wage Inequality",Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2009 (joint with T. Lemieux and D. Parent)