Focus areas: Economic effects of political transitions, economic history of slavery and labor institutions, international migration, economic applications of natural language processing 

Suresh Naidu teaches economics, political economy and development.

Naidu previously served as a Harvard Academy Junior Scholar at Harvard University, and as an instructor in economics and political economy at the University of California-Berkeley.

Naidu holds a BMath from University of Waterloo, an MA in economics from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a PhD in economics from the University of California-Berkeley.

Publications:

  • “Recruitment Restrictions and Labor Markets: Evidence from the Post-Bellum U.S. South,” Journal of Labor Economics.
  • “Intergenerational Wealth Transmission and the Dynamics of Inequality in Small-Scale Societies” with Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, Samuel Bowles, Tom Hertz, Adrian Bell, Jan Beise, Greg Clark, Ila Fazzio, Michael Gurven, Kim Hill, Paul L. Hooper, William Irons, Hillard Kaplan, Donna Leonetti, Bobbi Low, Frank Marlowe, Richard McElreath, Suresh Naidu, David Nolin, Patrizio Piraino, Rob Quinlan, Eric Schniter, Rebecca Sear, Mary Shenk, Eric Alden Smith, Christopher von Rueden, and Polly Wiessner. Science Vol. 326. No. 5953 (October 30, 2009.) pp 682-688.
  • “Occupational Choices: The Economic Determinants of Land Invasions” with Danny Hidalgo, Simeon Nichter, and Neal Richardson, Review of Economics and Statistics.
  • “The Economic Impacts of a Citywide Minimum Wage” with Arin Dube and Michael Reich. Industrial and Labor Relations Review Vol. 60, No. 4 (July 2007), pp. 522-543.

Research & Publications

2010|Journal of Labor Economics|Suresh Naidu

This paper estimates the impact of recruitment restrictions on job-to-job transitions and wages in the post-bellum U.S. South. I estimate the effects of criminal fines charged for “enticement" (offers made to workers already under contract) on sharecropper mobility, tenancy choice, and agricultural wages. I find that a $13 (10%) increase in the fine charged for enticement lowered the probability of a move by Black sharecroppers by 12%, lowered daily wages by 1 cent (.1%), and lowered the returns to experience for Blacks by 0.6% per year. These results are consistent with an on-the-job search model, where the enticement fine raises the cost of offering a job to employed workers.

2009|Science|Suresh Naidu, Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, Samuel Bowles, Tom Hertz, Adrian Bell, Jan Beise, Greg Clark, Ila Fazzio, Michael Gurven, Kim Hill, Paul L. Hooper, William Irons, Hillard Kaplan, Donna Leonetti, Bobbi Low, Frank Marlowe, Richard McElreath, David Nolin, Patrizio Piraino, Rob Quinlan, Eric Schniter, Rebecca Sear, Mary Shenk, Eric Alden Smith, Christopher von Rueden, Polly Wiessner

Small-scale human societies range from foraging bands with a strong egalitarian ethos to more economically stratified agrarian and pastoral societies. We explain this variation in inequality using a dynamic model in which a population’s long-run steady-state level of inequality depends on the extent to which its most important forms of wealth are transmitted within families across generations. We estimate the degree of intergenerational transmission of three different types of wealth (material, embodied, and relational), as well as the extent of wealth inequality in 21 historical and contemporary populations. We show that intergenerational transmission of wealth and wealth inequality are substantial among pastoral and small-scale agricultural societies (on a par with or even exceeding the most unequal modern industrial economies) but are limited among horticultural and foraging peoples (equivalent to the most egalitarian of modern industrial populations). Differences in the technology by which a people derive their livelihood and in the institutions and norms making up the economic system jointly contribute to this pattern.

2008|Review of Economics and Statistics|Suresh Naidu, Danny Hidalgo, Simeon Nichter, Neal Richardson

This study estimates the effect of economic conditions on redistributive conflict. We examine land invasions in Brazil using a panel dataset with over 50,000 municipality-year observations. Adverse economic shocks, instrumented by rainfall, cause the rural poor to invade and occupy large landholdings. This effect exhibits substantial heterogeneity by land inequality and land tenure systems, but not by other observable variables. In highly unequal municipalities, negative income shocks cause twice as many land invasions as in municipalities with average land inequality. Cross-sectional estimates using fine within-region variation also suggest the importance of land inequality in explaining redistributive conflict.

2007|Industrial and Labor Relations Review |Suresh Naidu, Arin Dube , Michael Reich

This paper presents the first study of the economic effects of a citywide minimum wage— San Francisco’s adoption of a minimum wage, set at $8.50 in 2004 and $9.14 by 2007. Compared to earlier benchmark studies by Card and Krueger and by Neumark and Wascher, this study surveys table-service as well as fast-food restaurants, includes more control groups, and collects data for more outcomes. The authors find that the policy increased worker pay and compressed wage inequality, but did not create any detectable employment loss among affected restaurants. The authors also find smaller amounts of measurement error than characterized the earlier studies, and so they can reject previous negative employment estimates with greater confidence. Fast-food and table-service restaurants responded differently to the policy, with a small price increase and substantial increases in job tenure and in the proportion of full-time workers among fast-food restaurants, but not among table-service restaurants.

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