Queen’s Alumnus Wins Nobel Prize

Photo credit: Niklas Elmehed © Nobel Prize Outreach 2021

Queen’s University alumnus David Card, Artsci'78, LLD'99, has been awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

Dr. Card, who did his undergraduate work at Queen’s, was awarded one half of the Nobel Prize. The other half went jointly to Dr. Joshua D. Angrist of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dr. Guido W. Imbens of Stanford University.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a congratulatory statement, lauding Dr. Card for his ground-breaking work and noting its significance for the future.

“Dr. Card is being recognized for his pioneering work on minimum wages, immigration, and education, which have considerably improved our understanding of the labour market over the last few decades. His recent work studied the effects of increasing the minimum wage on employment and challenged conventional wisdom,” said Prime Minister Trudeau. “On behalf of all Canadians, I congratulate Dr. Card for this remarkable achievement, and thank him for helping us to better understand the economy, as we work to build a strong economic recovery that benefits everyone for a better future at home and around the world.”

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Dr. Card said his research, which indicated “that increasing a country’s minimum wage does not lead to reduced hiring, and that immigration does not harm the employment prospects of native-born workers,” was not met with much enthusiasm when he was working on it in the 1990s.

“To tell you the honest truth, at the time the work was not so well received by many economists,” he told the Globe. “A few people thought it was interesting. It got published. It was not widely accepted.”

But Dr. Card’s research, along with that of Dr. Angrist and Dr. Imbens, is now heralded as pioneering, with the Nobel Prize site noting that it has “provided us with new insights about the labour market and shown what conclusions about cause and effect can be drawn from natural experiments. Their approach has spread to other fields and revolutionized empirical research.”

His advice for current students? Don’t give up.

“Van Gogh never sold any paintings in his life,” Dr. Card told the Toronto Star. “So, if you want to take that as a possible way, you know, to think about your own work.”

Now at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is Director of the Labor Studies Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, Dr. Card earned his Bachelor of Arts at Queen’s in 1978, followed by a PhD at Princeton in 1983, and an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Queen’s in 1999. Among his many awards, he was previously the recipient of the Prince of Wales Prize at Queen's in 1978. He also held various prominent editorial positions as Co‐editor American Economic Review (2002 ‐ 2005), Co‐editor of Econometrica (1993‐97), and Associate Editor of the Journal of Labor Economics (1988‐92).

This story was originally posted on the Queen's University Alumni website.