Gary S. Fields

Research Fellow and Program Director

Cornell University

Network Program areas

Gary Fields is the John P. Windmuller Professor of International and Comparative Labor and Professor of Economics at Cornell University and, since 2007, an IZA Research Fellow. He has been an Ivy League teacher and professor for more than forty years.

After receiving Bachelor's, Master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in economics from the University of Michigan, he became an assistant professor at Yale University at age 25 and an associate professor at age 29. Two years later, he took up a tenured professorship at Cornell University. At Cornell, he teaches and conducts research in labor economics, workplace management, and development economics in the university-wide Department of Economics and the ILR School. He has chaired ILR’s Department of Labor Economics three times and chaired ILR’s Department of International and Comparative Labor for eighteen years. He has received perfect teacher ratings in several Cornell University courses (5.0/5.0), has a perfect 5.0/5.0 rating on, and is a three-time recipient of the General Mills Foundation Award for Exemplary Graduate Teaching. He is the winner of the 2014 IZA Prize in Labor Economics.

Fields has published more than 150 books and articles. His books include Poverty, Inequality, and Development (Cambridge University Press), Retirement, Pensions, and Social Security (with Olivia Mitchell - MIT Press), Distribution and Development: A New Look at the Developing World (MIT Press and the Russell Sage Foundation), Pathways Out of Poverty (with Guy Pfeffermann - Kluwer Academic Publishers), Bottom-Line Management (Springer), and Working Hard, Working Poor (Oxford University Press). His articles have appeared in such professional journals as the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Review of Economics and Statistics, Econometrica, Economica, Journal of Labor Economics, Journal of Human Resources, Journal of Development Economics, Journal of Public Economics, and Journal of Economic Inequality.

Fields is also active in public service and consulting. He is the recipient of numerous grants and contracts from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, International Labor Organization, Global Development Network, and the United Nations, among others. He has served as a consultant to various organizations including Deloitte, Borders, Sun Microsystems, UJA-Federation, Spherion, the Human Capital Institute, Proskauer Rose LLP, and the governments of South Korea, Great Britain, Germany, and Canada.

Fields is the second most highly-cited professor in economics at Cornell. He is listed in Who's Who in Economics and was named one of the 25 most widely-cited economists under the age of 40. His book Retirement, Pensions, and Social Security was designated an outstanding book of the year by Princeton University. He is the winner of a year-long Russell Sage Foundation visiting scholarship. A statistical procedure that he created has been incorporated into the Stata statistical software package under the name gfields.

Gary Fields and his wife, Vivian, have lived overseas for many years. He has held visiting professorships at the University of Nairobi (Kenya), Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia), Oxford University (England), University of Warwick (England), London School of Economics (England), the Paris School of Economics, previously known as the Département et Laboratoire d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée (France), Koç University (Turkey), and the Centre for Development Studies (India). They look forward to their next overseas sabbatical in 2016/17.

An IZA Research Fellow since 2007, Gary Fields currently serves as Program Director of the institute’s research area “Employment and Development”.



IZA Discussion Paper No. 9972

This paper proposes an overlapping generations multi-sector model of the labor market for developing countries with three heterogeneities – heterogeneity within self-employment, heterogeneity in ability, and heterogeneity in age. We revisit an iconic paradox in a class of multi-sector labor market models in which the creation of high-wage employment exacerbates...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 9022

When economic growth (or economic decline) takes place, who benefits and who is hurt how much? The more traditional way of answering this question is to compare two or more comparable cross sections and gauge changing income inequality among countries or individuals. A newer way is to utilize data on...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 7278

This paper constructs a theoretical labor market model for China, and utilizes the model to examine the effects of various labor market policies on economic well-being. Two key features of the model are a segmented labor market involving three sectors – state-owned enterprises, private enterprises, and agriculture – and China's...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 7141

Various development objectives are worthy, but to my mind, one objective dominates all others: reducing the scourge of absolute economic misery in the world. In this paper, I focus on an important but relatively underemphasized approach to poverty reduction: helping the poor earn more in the labour market for the...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 5483
published in: Agnes Soucat and Richard Sheffler (eds.): The Labor Market for Health Workers in Africa: A New Look at the Crisis, The World Bank, 2013, 33-48

This paper adopts a labor market economics perspective to understanding the crisis of health care professionals in Africa. Five challenges resulting from this crisis are identified: a production challenge, an underutilization challenge, a distributional challenge, a performance challenge, and a financing challenge. Differences between the labor market approach and others...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 3184
published in: Journal of Economic Inequality, 2015, 13, 103-128.

This paper examines changes in individual earnings during positive and negative growth periods in three Latin American economies: Argentina, Mexico, and Venezuela. We ask whether those individuals who start in the best economic position are those who experience the largest earnings gains or the smallest earnings losses; this is the...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 2742
Kaushik Basu, Gary S. Fields, Shub Debgupta

Many countries have legislation which make it costly for firms to dismiss or retrench workers. In the case of India, the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, requires firms that employ 50 or more workers to pay a compensation to any worker who is to be retrenched. This paper builds a theoretical...