Job Market Candidate: Jesse Lastunen

Jesse’s dissertation provides new evidence on the impact of digitalization on the economic premium for higher education and technical skills. His work at RAND has also focused on the intersection of technology and labor markets, and typically relied on the application of quantitative methods and data science tools. In addition to his impending doctorate in Policy Analysis, Lastunen holds degrees in Technology Policy from the University of Cambridge and in Economic Analysis from Barcelona GSE.

Dissertation Topic

Technological Change and the Skill Premium: 21st Century Evidence

New automation technologies and the ongoing digitalization of the American workplace are shifting the skills demanded by the job market. Such trends have potential to exacerbate economic disparities, with most benefits accruing to those with advanced degrees or specialized technical skills. In my dissertation, I build on this challenge and estimate the effects of digitalization on the economic premium for higher education and technical skills.

My dissertation builds on past findings but also expands upon them in several ways. First, I move away from the popular emphasis on technological unemployment and focus on the more subtle effects of digitalization on earnings. I also study the labor market effects of two complementary proxies of digitalization; provide evidence of recent, 21st century trends; and exploit detailed longitudinal data that has not been used before for the study of technical change in the U.S.

Committee Members

Krishna B. Kumar (chair); Shanthi Nataraj; Philip Armour; Raffaele Vardavas

Research & Methodological Expertise

  • Causal Inference/Program Evaluation
  • Data Visualization/Animation
  • Economic Modeling/Simulation
  • Labor, Population & Aging
  • Scalable Computing/Data Science/Big Data
  • Technology & Innovation

Honors & Awards

  • Internet Economy Research Fellow, the Internet Association
  • Fulbright Scholar, University of Chicago
  • British Council Scholar, University of Cambridge