Benjamin Milner

PhD Job Market Candidate

My research interests are in labour economics, economic history, and inequality. My job market paper studies the impact of public school introduction and how education policy can improve intergenerational mobility.

I will be available for interviews at the 2019 CEEE (Toronto), the 2019 EJM (Rotterdam), and the 2020 ASSA/AEA meetings (San Diego). I expect to graduate in 2020.


How does access to public education affect occupational outcomes and intergenerational mobility? The UK's 1870 Education Act, which introduced a public education system in England and Wales, provides a unique historical context in which to explore these questions. Using newly digitized historical records and a regression kink design, I find that public school access improved a child's chance of obtaining a human capital-intensive occupation in adulthood by as much as 13 pp. I use a triple difference specification to show that the effect extended to children further removed from the kink, and that the quality of occupation outcomes increased with each additional year of schooling. To study the reform's effect on intergenerational mobility, I link over 4 million father-son pairs across time using full-count historical censuses. I find that by targeting the lower classes, public school introduction significantly improved intergenerational mobility, with the adult outcome gap between high- and low- class children decreasing by 13%.


Co-author of Canadian component with Kevin Milligan & Tammy Schirle. Lead authors: Michael Stepner & Raj Chetty.
This paper studies the sources of cross-national differences in life expectancy using linked income tax and mortality data from Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and the United States. Building on the methods of Chetty et al (2016), we measure inequality in life expectancy by income percentile at age 40 within each country. We show that the gradient between income and life expectancy is significantly steeper in the United States than any of the nine peer countries studied. Men and women with below-median household income live more than two years longer in the nine other countries than in the United States. But life expectancies are similar in all countries for individuals with above-median income. In ongoing work, we examine how well the cross-national variation in the relationship between life expectancy and income is explained by differences in income inequality, progressive taxes and transfers, disease burdens, health behaviors, and health care systems.

During the First World War, death rates of local soldiers experienced by English and Welsh communities varied widely, in part due to an ill-advised recruitment strategy which often placed men from the same community in the same military unit. Using this variation, I examine the effect of soldier mortality on changes in post-war poverty and employment outcomes. I find higher conflict death rates are associated with a fall in local poverty rates, with the effect appearing to be stronger among men than women. I also find evidence suggesting employment rates rose where death rates were higher, particularly among women. Together, these results suggest that while high death rates improved labour market conditions for those left behind, widowed women were likely forced into the labour market to avoid poverty. Finally, I demonstrate that war-induced falls in the ratio of marriage-aged males to females resulted in an increase in out-of-wedlock births, confirming previous findings showing that men often utilize marriage market bargaining power to shirk childcare responsibility.

Experience as Teaching Assistant

At Queens University

Econ 111 – Introductory Microeconomics - Fall 2012, U. Berkok
Econ 112 – Introductory Macroeconomics - Spring 2013, U. Berkok


Econ 301 - Intermediate Microeconomic Analysis I – Fall 2014, J. Rogo
Econ 421 (Grader) - Introduction to Game Theory and Applications – Fall 2016, V. Farinha Luz
Econ 494 – Seminar in Applied International Economics – Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019 – Profs: S. Anderson, W. Antweiler, M. Szkup, V. Alviarez, A. Fisher, P. Baylis
Econ 221 – Introduction to Strategic Thinking – Fall 2017, H. Li
Econ 334 - Economic History of Modern Europe – Fall 2018, D. Gonzalez Agudo