Joni Hersch

Professor of Law and Economics
Co-Director, Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics

Joni Hersch is an economist who works in the areas of employment discrimination and empirical law and economics. Her recent research demonstrates that women who are graduates of elite institutions have lower labor market activity than their counterparts who are graduates of non-elite institutions and examines the consequences of this labor market disparity for societal equity. Other research shows that graduates of non-elite institutions rarely earn post-baccalaureate degrees from elite universities, and even when they do, they do not catch up monetarily with graduates of elite undergraduate institutions. Her research on these topics, as well as her research on skin color discrimination, has received international media attention, and has been featured in numerous publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, and the L.A. Times.

Professor Hersch joined Vanderbilt's law faculty in 2006, with secondary appointments in the Department of Economics and the Owen Graduate School of Management to co-found Vanderbilt’s Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics with W. Kip Viscusi. Professor Hersch has published numerous articles in the leading economics journals on group differences in labor market outcomes, sexual harassment, immigrant workers, judge and jury behavior, the economics of home production, models of litigation, job risks, and product safety regulation. She is a research fellow with IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor and was named co-editor of the peer-reviewed IZA Journal of Labor Economics in summer 2015. She also serves as associate editor of the Review of Economics of the Household. She is the author of Sex Discrimination in the Labor Market (Foundations and Trends in Microeconomics, 2006) and co-editor of Emerging Labor Market Institutions for the Twenty-First Century (University of Chicago, 2004).

Before joining Vanderbilt’s faculty, Professor Hersch was an adjunct law professor at Harvard Law School. She was a professor of economics at the University of Wyoming from 1989 to 1999 and has been a visiting professor of economics at Northwestern, Caltech, Duke, and Harvard.

Please direct media inquiries to Amy Wolf, VU Senior Public Affairs Officer, at 615-343-2634 or

Research Interests

Labor economics, discrimination, law and economics

Representative Publications

  • "Fifty Years Later: The Legacy of the Civil Rights Act of 1964," 34 Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 424 (2015) (with Jennifer Bennett Shinall)
    Full Text | SSRN | WWW
  • "The Use and Misuse of Econometric Evidence in Employment Discrimination Cases," 71 Washington and Lee Law Review 2365 (2014) (with Blair Druhan Bullock)
    Full Text | SSRN | WWW
  • “Opting Out among Women with Elite Education,” 11 Review of Economics of the Household 469 (2013)
    Full Text | SSRN | WWW
  • “Compensating Differentials for Sexual Harassment,” 101 American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings 630 (2011)
    Full Text | SSRN | WWW
  • "Immigrant Status and the Value of Statistical Life," 45 Journal of Human Resources 749 (2010) (with W. Kip Viscusi)
    Full Text | SSRN | WWW
  • "Home Production and Wages: Evidence from the American Time Use Survey," 7 Review of Economics of the Household 159 (2009)
    Full Text | SSRN | WWW
  • "Profiling the New Immigrant Worker: The Effects of Skin Color and Height," 26 Journal of Labor Economics 345 (2008)
    Full Text | SSRN | WWW
  • "Demand for a Jury Trial and the Selection of Cases for Trial," 35 Journal of Legal Studies 119 (2006)
    Full Text | HEIN
  • "Cigarette Smokers as Job Risk Takers," 83 Review of Economics and Statistics 269 (2001) (with W. Kip Viscusi)
    Full Text | SSRN | WWW
  • "Compensating Differentials for Gender-Specific Job Injury Risks," 88 American Economic Review 598 (1998)
    Full Text | WWW

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Contact Information

(615) 343-7717 (voice)
(615) 322-6631 (fax)
Room 284 (office)

Curriculum Vitae



Ph.D. (Economics) Northwestern University
B.A. (Mathematics) University of South Florida