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Joni Hersch

Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair
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. She has published numerous articles in leading peer-reviewed journals and law reviews. Professor Hersch’s research focuses on the influence of gender, race, national origin, skin color and family background on labor market outcomes, higher education and inequality. Her research has received international media attention and has been featured in publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Vox, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic and the L.A. Times.

Hersch joined Vanderbilt Law School as a professor of law and economics in 2006, with secondary appointments in the Department of Economics and the Owen Graduate School of Management. That same year, she and W. Kip Viscusi co-founded Vanderbilt’s Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics. She is a research fellow with IZA Institute for Labor Economics and was co-editor of the peer-reviewed IZA Journal of Labor Economics from 2015 through  2018. 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, Hersch was lecturer in law and adjunct law professor and co-director of the Program on Empirical Legal Studies 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.

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Research Interests

Labor economics, discrimination, law and economics

Representative Publications

  • "Affirmative Action and the Leadership Pipeline," 96 Tulane Law Review 1 (2021)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Catching Up Is Hard to Do: Undergraduate Prestige, Elite Graduate Programs and the Earnings Premium," 10 Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis 503 (Fall 2019)
    Full Text | SSRN | WWW
  • "Valuing the Risk of Workplace Sexual Harassment,” 57 Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 111 (2018)
    Full Text | SSRN | WWW
  • "Something to Talk About: Information Exchange Under Employment Law," 165 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 49 (2016) (with Jennifer Shinall)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "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 | HEIN | WWW
  • “Opting Out among Women with Elite Education,” 11 Review of Economics of the Household 469 (2013)
    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
  • "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