Peter Q. Blair

Harvard University
Graduate School of Education
407 Gutman Library
Cambridge, MA 02138
Tel: 617-458-6010

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
NBER Program Affiliations: ED
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow
Institutional Affiliation: Harvard University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

March 2020Searching for STARs: Work Experience as a Job Market Signal for Workers without Bachelor's Degrees
with Tomas G. Castagnino, Erica L. Groshen, Papia Debroy, Byron Auguste, Shad Ahmed, Fernando Garcia Diaz, Cristian Bonavida: w26844
The demand for a skilled workforce is increasing even faster than the supply of workers with college degrees – the result: rising wage inequality by education levels, and firms facing a skills gap. While it is often assumed that increasing the number of college graduates is required to fill this gap, this paper explores the extent to which workers without BA college degrees can help fill this gap. To find workers without BA degrees who are potentially skilled through alternative routes (STARs), we use data on the skill requirements of jobs to compute the “skill distance” between a worker’s current occupation and higher wage occupations with similar skill requirements in their local labor market. Based on our calculations, of the 16 million non-college educated workers with skills for high-...
January 2020Structural Increases in Skill Demand after the Great Recession
with David J. Deming: w26680
In this paper we use detailed job vacancy data to estimate changes in skill demand in the years since the Great Recession. The share of job vacancies requiring a bachelor’s degree increased by more than 60 percent between 2007 and 2019, with faster growth in professional occupations and high-wage cities. Since the labor market was becoming tighter over this period, cyclical “upskilling” is unlikely to explain our findings.

Published: Peter Q. Blair & David J. Deming, 2020. "Structural Increases in Demand for Skill after the Great Recession," AEA Papers and Proceedings, vol 110, pages 362-365.

November 2018How Much of Barrier to Entry is Occupational Licensing?
with Bobby W. Chung: w25262
We exploit state variation in licensing laws to study the effect of licensing on occupational choice using a boundary discontinuity design. We find that licensing reduces equilibrium labor supply by an average of 17%-27%. The negative labor supply effects of licensing appear to be strongest for white workers and comparatively weaker for black workers.

Published: Peter Q. Blair & Bobby W. Chung, 2019. "How Much of Barrier to Entry is Occupational Licensing?," British Journal of Industrial Relations, vol 57(4), pages 919-943. citation courtesy of

July 2018Job Market Signaling through Occupational Licensing
with Bobby W. Chung: w24791
We show that an occupational license serves as a job market signal, similar to education in the Spence model. In the presence of occupational licensing, we find evidence that firms rely less on observable characteristics such as race and gender in determining employee wages. As a result, licensed minorities and women experience smaller wage gaps than their unlicensed peers. Black men benefit from licenses that signal non-felony status, whereas white women benefit from licenses with a human capital requirement. Certification, a less distortionary alternative to licensing, generates an equivalent wage premium for white men, but lower wage premiums than licensing for women and black men.
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