Alex Bell

Alex Bell is a Post-Doctoral Scholar at the California Policy Lab at UCLA. Prior to joining CPL, Dr. Bell earned a PhD in Economics from Harvard University.

Dr. Bell's research documents unequal experiences of workers in the labor market and the implications of these inequalities for society as a whole. Much of his research has leveraged large-scale administrative datasets to inform research on these topics. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has written a series of rapid-response analyses of the crisis' disparate economic impacts on workers through the lens of California's unemployment insurance claims microdata and deployed quasi-experimental research designs to measure labor supply responses to more generous federal emergency benefits.

In a methodological line of research, Dr. Bell has put forward a new framework for economists to study the role of job choice in income inequality, which yields significantly different price estimates for workplace amenities even when applied to the classic datasets used by labor economists. The framework for studying job choice updates the widely used canonical one to allow for a single dimension of unobserved worker skill heterogeneity.

Another line of Dr. Bell's applied labor market research studies the intersection of inequality of opportunity with innovation. Through linking US tax records and patent inventors, Dr. Bell has examined efficiency losses to innovation of unequal opportunities prior to reaching adulthood and the role exposure to innovation may play in reducing childhood disparities across gender, race, and parental background. Related work has analyzed the role of tax progressivity and productivity spillovers in innovation. Another project seeks to isolate the social exposure channel in children's success by unearthing a 30-year-old RCT of a mentoring program and linking it with present-day administrative records.

Dr. Bell's research appeared in top economics publications, including the Quarterly Journal of Economics and American Economic Review. His research has also been featured in media outlets including The New York Times, Vox, and The Economist, as well as in the 2019 USPTO report to Congress on under-represented groups in innovation. He has also been a fellow or affiliate in the following programs: Harvard's Inequality & Social Policy Program, the Weatherhead Initiative on Gender Inequality, Washington Center for Equitable Growth, and the NBER Health and Aging Research Program.