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David Blanchflower

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Background Information

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David Graham Blanchflower (born March 2, 1952) is a leading labour economist, currently a tenured economics professor at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, and an external member of the Bank of England's interest rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee (MPC). He is also a current Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, part-time professor at the University of Stirling, and a Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Studies at the University of Munich and (since 1999) the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) at the University of Bonn.

British-born, Blanchflower is now both a British and a U.S. citizen, having moved to the United States in 1989. On June 1, 2006, he replaced Stephen Nickell on the MPC.


Blanchflower attended Varndean Grammar School for Boys in Brighton and Cantonian High School in Cardiff. He went on to earn a B.A. in Social Sciences (Economics) at the University of Leicester in 1973 and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at the University of Birmingham in 1975. He received an M.Sc. (Economics) at the University of Wales in 1981 and his Ph.D. in 1985 at Queen Mary, University of London. He was also awarded an honorary A.M. in 1996 at Dartmouth College and an honorary Doctor of Letters at the University of Leicester in 2007.

Work in Economics

Blanchflower served as a Research Officer at the Institute for Employment Research at University of Warwick from 1984 to 1986, when he became a Lecturer at the Department of Economics at the University of Surrey, a post he held until 1989 when he moved to the United States.

He has been a member of the Editorial Board of Small Business Economics, Scottish Journal of Political Economy, and Industrial & Labor Relations Review.

He has also been a Research Associate at the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics and at the Canadian International Labour Network.

The Wage Curve

Blanchflower's The Wage Curve (with Andrew Oswald), with eight years of data from 4 million people in 16 countries, argued that the wage curve, which plots wages against unemployment, is negatively sloping, reversing generations of macroeconomic theory. "The Phillips Curve is wrong, it's as fundamental as that," said Blanchflower. The Guardian praised the findings as "one of the most devastating findings of contemporary economics". The implications, that wages are highest when unemployment is lowest and that increased unemployment drives down wages, have been suggested periodically in economics since the publication of Karl Marx's Wage-Labour and Capital, but were not accepted by the mainstream.


Much of Blanchflower's work has focused on the economics of happiness. He has posited a correlation between age and happiness, declining through the 20s, 30s, and 40s before increasing in retirement. He has been labelled a "happiness guru" for his ability to quantify the increase in happiness for individuals who are married or have sex frequently, work which has applications in divorce law and pharmaceutical advertising.

He has been interviewed several times on NPR and New Hampshire Public Radio about his work in this area.

Monetary Policy Committee

Blanchflower joined the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee in June 2006, replacing Stephen Nickell. Before his appointment, Michael Fallon questioned his non-residency at the parliamentary Select Committee on Treasury. He overcome this problem by arranging for conference call meetings. Since his appointment, he has voted in the minority in five of eleven meetings, voting to maintain the interest rate in his first nine meetings and to reduce interest rates in March 2007; no other MPC member has voted for an interest rate reduction since Blanchflower's time on the Committee, although Nickell alone advocated such a reduction during his last six meetings. This gained him the label of 'maverick' member of the Committee.

Six other members of the MPC have served during Blanchflower's time on the MPC. While the other six have voted for an average rate increase of 0.25% (with a minimum of 0.25% decrease) over this same period Blanchflower has voted for a cumulative 2.75% decrease.

Selected works

  • Part-time employment in Great Britain 1980, Department of Employment Research Paper No. 57, 1987.
  • Occupational earnings and work histories: who gets the good jobs?, Department of Employment Research Paper No. 68, 1989.
  • Swedish labor market policy: an evaluation. Report of a Non-Nordic Institution, published by the Swedish Ministry of Labour, Stockholm, Sweden, 1995.
  • The Wage Curve, published in 1994 by MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • The area labour cost adjustment: analysis and a new approach, National Economic Research Associates, London, May 1996.
  • The area labour cost adjustment: empirical analysis and evidence on a new approach, National Economic Research Associates, London, May 1996.
  • The area labour cost adjustment: disaggregated estimates, London Economics, June 1996.
  • Review of the area labour cost adjustment: project A - final report, London Economics, June 1996.
  • The role and influence of trade unions in the OECD, report to the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, August, 1996.
  • Wage levels in the regions of Britain; a report for Tesco, London Economics, September 1996.
  • The area cost adjustment: specific cost approach, A report for the Associations of Local Government in London and the South East, National Economic Research Associates, London, July 1998.
  • Youth Employment and Joblessness in Advanced Countries, University of Chicago Press and NBER, 2000.

IZA discussion papers

  • A Cross-Country Study of Union Membership. 2006.
  • The Scots May Be Brave But They Are Neither Healthy Or Happy. 2005.
  • An Analysis of the Impact of Affirmative Action Programs on Self-Employment in the Construction Industry. 2005.
  • The Wage Curve Reloaded. 2005.
  • Happiness and the Human Development Index: The Paradox of Australia. 2005.
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