Alex Bell

Alex is a PhD candidate in the Harvard Economics Department. Beginning in the summer of 2020, he will be a Visting Fellow at Harvard and a post-doctoral scholar at the California Policy Lab at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Alex's research seeks to understand the causes and consequences of economic inequality. In an applied line of research, he has studied questions at the intersection of inequality of opportunity with innovation. Through linkages of administrative datasets on patent inventors, he has examined efficiency losses to innovation of kids' unequal opportunities in life and the role that exposure to innovation may play in reducing childhood disparities along gender, race, and parent background. Related work has analyzed the role of tax progressivity and productivity spillovers in innovation. In a more methodological line of research, he has also put forward a novel empirical framework for studying the role of job choice in income inequality. The method resolves the problem of "ability bias," which has been the key obstacle to research on the trade-offs workers face between high-paying jobs and jobs with particular non-income amenities.

Alex's research has been featured in media outlets including The New York Times, Vox, and The Economist. His research was also featured in the 2019 USPTO report to Congress on under-represented groups in innovation. Alex has also been a fellow in 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. Prior to graduate school, Alex was a pre-doctoral fellow for the Equality of Opportunity Project (now Opportunity Insights). Alex received a Bachelor's of Science with honors in Computer Science and Economics from Brown University.