Notwithstanding an adolescence that stressed football and chess, John Pencavel gained admission to University College, University of London, where he earned an undergraduate and a Master’s degree in Economics. He moved to Princeton University where he secured a Ph.D. He assumed a faculty position in the Department of Economics at Stanford University where he has taken on a variety of administrative positions.
Pencavel’s Ph.D. thesis was on the topic of labor turnover, an issue to which he returned later in examining the effects of various buyout programs (i.e., incentives devised by employers to induce separations of their employees). He has always been interested in questions of hours of work, unionism, and worker-owned and managed firms.
He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and is a Fellow of the Econometric Society and a Fellow of University College, University of London. He served as Editor of the Journal of Economic Literature from 1986 to 1998. He was President of the Western Economic Association International in 2015. He has served as a consultant to the World Bank and to various government bodies on labor market issues.
He reads fiction and non-fiction, and enjoys his family.