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Fed/GFLEC Financial Literacy Seminar Series

November 19, 2020

3:30 PM - 4:30 PM ET

Seminar IV: Avoiding Prejudice: Combat Fatalities, Anti-Muslim Bias, and Work Behavior of Arabs and Muslims

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Kerwin Charles, Distinguished Speaker

Indra K. Nooyi Dean and Frederic D. Wolfe Professor of Economics, Policy, and Management, Yale School of Management

FinLit Talks: Interviews with Financial Literacy Thought Leaders



Bio: Kerwin Charles

Kerwin K. Charles is the Indra K. Nooyi Dean and Frederic D. Wolfe Professor of Economics, Policy, and Management at the Yale School of Management.

During his scholarly career, Dean Charles has studied and published on topics including earnings and wealth inequality, conspicuous consumption, race and gender labor market discrimination, the intergenerational transmission of economic status, worker and family adjustment to job loss and health shocks, non-work among prime-aged persons, and the labor market consequences of housing bubbles and sectoral change. He is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and an elected Fellow of the Society of Labor Economics. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, is a member of the Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee, and sits on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Labor Economics.

Charles was the Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergmann Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy before being named Yale SOM dean in 2019. He received his doctorate from Cornell University and taught economics and public policy at the University of Michigan before moving to the University of Chicago in 2005. He has received multiple teaching awards and his many academic leadership roles have included running centers and programs within the Harris School and serving as the school’s deputy dean and later its interim dean.


Between 2001 and 2014, more than 6,500 American soldiers died while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Using data from the Defense Manpower Data Center on soldiers’ home states and exact dates of death, and date-specific labor supply information from the CPS-ORG, we find that labor supply among Muslim and Arab men from a state sharply declines in the two specific weeks following news of the death of a U.S. soldier from that state. Since news of a death of a U.S. soldier in the Middle East arguably causes a time- and state-specific shock to anti-Arab and anti-Muslim prejudice in the U.S., and because working less reduces interaction with others, we argue that our findings are consistent with the main but rarely directly tested prediction of Becker-style discrimination models that potential objects of prejudice-based discrimination will take costly actions to avoid interactions with those who harbor biased sentiments against them.