With a new administration in Washington, there has been much talk this winter about raising the federal minimum wage. Proponents argue that this is a necessary step to ensure families can earn a living wage. But detractors argue such a policy would destroy jobs and important human capital-building opportunities. On April 7, 2021, The Adam Smith Society held a lively debate on the merits and drawbacks of raising the minimum wage with UCLA professor Lee Ohanian and MIT professor Daron Acemoglu, moderated by the Wall Street Journal’s Eric Morath. (Hosted by CMU Tepper and Pitt Katz chapters.)
Eric Morath is a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal, based in the Washington, D.C., bureau. He oversees the publication's labor economics and policy coverage. He has appeared on CNN, CBS and NPR, among other outlets, and he is a past winner of the Gerald Loeb Award for business journalism. Previously, Mr. Morath covered the Treasury and Commerce departments, the Postal Service and bankruptcy news, for the Journal and other Dow Jones properties. Prior to joining the company in 2008, he covered the U.S. auto industry in Detroit. Mr. Morath graduated from Michigan State University, where he studied economics and journalism. He lives in Silver Spring, Md., with his wife and three children.
Lee E. Ohanian is Distinguished Professor of Economics and Director of the Ettinger Family Program in Macroeconomics at UCLA, where he has taught since 1999. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and is Associate Director of the Center for the Advanced Study in Economic Efficiency at Arizona State University. He is an adviser to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and has previously advised other federal reserve banks, foreign central banks, and the National Science Foundation. His research, which focuses on economic crises, government policy, and inequality, has been published widely in peer-reviewed journals. He previously served on the faculties of the Universities of Minnesota and Pennsylvania. He is co-director of the research initiative “Macroeconomics across Time and Space” at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He contributes to the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, The San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury, and other media outlets. He has appeared on Fox News “Mornings with Maria”, PBS Newshour, NPR radio, and other media programs.
Daron Acemoglu is an Institute Professor at MIT and an elected fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Econometric Society, and the Society of Labor Economists. His academic work covers a wide range of areas, including political economy, economic development, economic growth, inequality, labor economics, and economics of networks. He is the author of five books, including Why Nations Fail: Power, Prosperity, and Poverty and The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty (both with James A. Robinson). Acemoglu has received numerous awards and prizes, including the Carnegie Fellowship in 2017, the Jean-Jacques Laffont Prize in 2018, and the Global Economy Prize in 2019. He was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal in 2005, the Erwin Plein Nemmers Prize in 2012, and the 2016 BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award.