Who I am
I am an economist, retired from teaching and department meetings but not much else. I am currently a Faculty Affiliate in the Strategy Group of the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, where I work on computers' impact on jobs and living standards. I also serve on the Research Advisory Committee of MIT's Initiative on the Work of the Future.
l am married to Katherine Swartz, an economist recently retired from the Harvard School of Public Health, now at Duke's Sanford School. We have two children Dave (and his wife Kelly) and Marin (and her husband Joseph) and we have four outstanding grandchildren: Andrew (seven years old as of September, 2020), Ben (seven years old), Emma (six years old) and Sam (five years old). Before coming to MIT in 1992, I taught for ten years at Cal-Berkeley and eleven years at the University of Maryland at College Park and worked for four years at the Urban Institute in Washington DC. Kathy and I now live most of the year in Durham, NC.
Most of my research focuses on the near-term future of work - how artificial intelligence, institutions and politics will shape specific labor markets over the next decade. I am currently using interviews and data to understand how technology might effect the Triad Region of North Carolina (Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem) and how the impacts compare to the impacts of trade-related job losses of twenty years ago. A new paper growing out of this work is Warehousing, Trucking and Technology: The Future of Work in Logistics (with Arshia Mehta), part of MIT's Work of the Future initiative. A related paper "Computers and Populism", (Oxford Economic Review, June 2018) projects the near-term, U.S. impacts of technologies including autonomous trucking, automated customer service responses and industrial robotics. A paper, co-authored with Dana Remus. examines the proposition that much of lawyers' work will soon be automated. The paper is available on SSRN at this link - "Can Robots be Lawyers?: Computers, Lawyers and the Practice of Law" - and was published in Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics in September, 2017.
Other new work includes a four part history of how U.S. radiologists are reimbursed ( with Dr. Max Rosen of UMass Memorial Hospital/Medical School) published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology , June - September 2020.
I am currently working on these forthcoming papers:
A working paper 'Dropouts, Taxes and Risk: The Economic Return to College under Realistic Assumptions" (with Alan Benson and Raimundo Esteva) demonstrates that standard estimates of the rate of return to college are based on best case assumptions that sometimes overstate returns and, more important, obscures differences in returns among institutions. More realistic assumptions can reasonably inspire caution among some students and their parents depending on what type of institution they attend. My 2013 paper, Dancing with Robots is coauthored with Richard J. Murnane (The Third Way Foundation) examines the skills needed in a job market that has been reshaped by computerized work and offshoring.
In addition to the recent work with Rosen, the "Sharp Slowdown in Growth of Medical Imaging" co-authored with David Lee of GE Healthcare, appeared in the August 2012 edition of Health Affairs and documents how policy managed to slow the growth of advanced imaging utilization (Abstract). Earlier papers include "Offshoring Professional Services" with Kyoung He Yu, describing the Indian teleradiology industry (British Journal of Industrial Relations). "Computers and the Supply of Radiology Services" (Journal of the American College of Radiology) in which I argued that computers were increasing competitive pressure on radiologists and "Computers, Conversation, Utilization and Commoditization" (American Journal of Roentology) where I trace the impact of digitized imaging on the radiologist's job and the radiology job market.
Wage Stagnation and Economic Inequality
In 2009, Peter Temin and I completed two book chapters explaining the development and subsequent collapse of the economic institutions that helped to achieve a more equitable distribution of economic growth in the years between World War II and the 1980s. A working paper version of the argument is available on SSRN here. A short version of the argument was given as the first "Bernie Saffran Memorial Lecture". at Swarthmore College, November 15, 2007.
- The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Creating the Next Job Market. (with Richard J. Murnane), Princeton University Press, 2004.
- The New Dollars and Dreams: American Incomes in the Late 1990s. Russell Sage Foundation, 1999.
- Teaching the New Basic Skills. (with Richard J. Murnane), Basic Books, 1996.
Additional Selected Publications
- Benson, Alan, Raimundo Esteva, and Frank Levy. Dropouts, Taxes and Risk: The Economic Return to College under Realistic Assumptions, 2015.
- Levy, Frank, and Richard Murnane. Dancing with Robots: Human Skills for Computerized Work. Third Way, 2013.
- Levy, Frank, and Kyoung-Hee Yu. "Offshoring Radiology Services to India." British Journal of Industrial Relations, 2010.
- Levy, Frank. "Computers, Conversation, Utilization and Commoditization." The American Journal of Roentology, 2009.
- Levy, Frank. "Computers and the Supply of Radiology Services: The Anatomy of a Disruptive Technology." Journal of the American College of Radiology, 2008.
- Levy, Frank Institutions and Inequality in 20th Century America: The Bernie Saffran Memorial Lecture, 2007.