Ioana E. Marinescu, PhD
Imperfect competition in the labor market, antitrust, and competition policy as applied to the labor market
Evaluation of the labor market impact of public policies, e.g. unemployment insurance and the minimum wage
Unconditional cash transfers, the universal basic income
Technology and structural changes in the labor market
Ioana Marinescu is an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice, and, since July 2022, the principal economist at the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division. Her research expertise includes wage determination and monopsony power, antitrust law for the labor market, the universal basic income, unemployment insurance, and green jobs. Ioana’s research is published in top-tier academic journals including the Quarterly Journal of Economics and the Journal of Labor Economics, and she serves as an associate editor for the Quarterly Journal of Economics. She’s a sought-after expert for policymakers, having testified before Congress and the Federal Trade Commission, and her work is regularly featured in major media outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post.
3701 Locust Walk, Caster Building
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6214
Department(s)Standing Faculty | Faculty
Program(s)MSSP | PhD
Research Areas(s)Economic Security | Data Driven Policy Analysis + Evidence-Based Practice
“Anticompetitive Mergers in Labor Markets”
Marinescu, Ioana and Herbert Hovenkamp. 2019. “Anticompetitive Mergers in Labor Markets.” Indiana Law Journal, vol. 94, 2019.
Mergers of competitors are conventionally challenged under the federal antitrust laws when they threaten to lessen competition in some product or service market in which the merging firms sell. Mergers can also injure competition in markets where the firms purchase, including the labor market. Recent empirical work in economics has shown that market concentration is very high in many labor markets and that higher labor market concentration is associated with lower wages. Here, we offer an empirically based legal assessment of the problem of mergers that facilitate anticompetitive wage and salary suppression. We consider the most likely problems that courts will encounter in such litigation, including market definition, assessment of market concentration, the role of non-compete and non-poaching agreements as aggravating factors for concentration, and application of the government’s Merger Guidelines. Given the high level of concentration in many labor markets, a mature policy of pursuing mergers because of harmful effects in labor markets could yield many cases. Courts must be in a position to adequately deal with such cases based on the application of the existing merger review framework to the analysis of anticompetitive effects in the labor market.
“Mismatch Unemployment and the Geography of Job Search”
Marinescu, Ioana, and Roland Rathelot. 2018. “Mismatch Unemployment and the Geography of Job Search.” American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, ol. 10, No. 3, July 2018, pp.42-70.
Could we significantly reduce U.S. unemployment by helping job seekers move closer to jobs? Using data from the leading employment board CareerBuilder.com, we show that, indeed, workers dislike applying to distant jobs: job seekers are 35% less likely to apply to a job 10 miles away from their ZIP code of residence. However, because job seekers are close enough to vacancies on average, this distaste for distance is fairly inconsequential: our search and matching model predicts that relocating job seekers to minimize unemployment would decrease unemployment by only 5.3%. Geographic mismatch is thus a minor driver of aggregate unemployment.
“No Strings Attached: The Behavioral Effects of U.S. Unconditional Cash Transfer Programs”
Marinescu, Ioana. 2017. “No Strings Attached: The Behavioral Effects of U.S. Unconditional Cash Transfer Programs.” New York, NY, USA: Roosevelt Institute, 2017. http://rooseveltinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/No-Strings-Attached-050417-1.pdf
This is a review of the literature on the behavioral impacts of unconditional cash transfers in the United States. Unconditional cash transfers had little to no effect on employment, and improved health and education among the poorest children.
“Opening the Black Box of the Matching Function: The Power of Words”
Marinescu, Ioana and Ronald Wolthoff. 2019. “Opening the Black Box of the Matching Function: The Power of Words.” Journal of Labor Economics, forthcoming.
On the leading job board CareerBuilder.com, high-wage job postings unexpectedly attract fewer applicants, and this is the case even within a detailed occupation. Viewed through the lens of our directed search model, this negative relationship is indicative of substantial applicant heterogeneity within an occupation. Empirically, we find that job title heterogeneity is key: within a job title, jobs with 10% higher wages do attract 7.7% more applicants. Furthermore, our findings are consistent with a higher return to worker quality for hires in “manager” and “senior” job titles. Overall, our findings demonstrate the power of words in the matching process.
“The General Equilibrium Impacts of Unemployment Insurance: Evidence from a Large Online Job Board”
Marinescu, Ioana. 2017. “The General Equilibrium Impacts of Unemployment Insurance: Evidence from a Large Online Job Board.” Journal of Public Economics 150 (June): 14–29. doi:10.1016/j.jpubeco.2017.02.012.
During the Great Recession, U.S. unemployment benefits were extended by up to 73 weeks. Theory predicts that extensions increase unemployment by discouraging job search, a partial equilibrium effect. Using data from the large job board CareerBuilder.com, I find that a 10% increase in benefit duration decreased state-level job applications by 1%, but had no robust effect on job vacancies. Job seekers thus faced reduced competition for jobs, a general equilibrium effect. Calibration implies that the general equilibrium effect reduces the impact of unemployment insurance on unemployment by 39%.