David Lam

University of Michigan, USA, and IZA, Germany

This is a very important project to make a wide range of academic research available to policymakers. I am particularly excited that the project includes many entries that address issues of interest to policymakers in low-income and middle-income countries

IZA World of Labor role

Author, Associate Editor, Topic spokesperson

Current position

Professor in the Department of Economics and Research Professor in the Population Studies Center, University of Michigan, USA

Research interest

Economic demography, development economics, economics of labor markets in developing countries

Positions/functions as a policy advisor

Consultant or advisor to South African presidency, World Bank, United Nations High-Level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda, United Nations Population Division; Director, DFID/IZA Program on Growth and Labor Markets in Low-Income Countries

Past positions

Visiting Professor of Economics, University of Cape Town, 1997–1998, 2004–2006, and 2013–2014; Visiting Researcher, Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1989–1990


PhD Economics, University of California, Berkeley, 1983

Selected publications

  • “How the world survived the population bomb: Lessons from fifty years of extraordinary demographic history.” Demography 48:4 (2011): 1231–1262. (Population Association of America Presidential Address).

  • “Schooling as a lottery: Racial differences in progress through school in urban South Africa.” Journal of Development Economics 95:2 (2011): 121–136 (with C. Ardington and M. Leibbrandt).

  • “Stages of the demographic transition from a child’s perspective: Family size, cohort size, and schooling.” Population and Development Review 34:2 (2008): 225–252 (with L. Marteleto).

  • “Effects of economic shocks on children’s employment and schooling in Brazil.” Journal of Development Economics 84:1 (2007): 188–214 (with S. Duryea and D. Levison).

  • “Effects of family background on earnings and returns to schooling: Evidence from Brazil.” Journal of Political Economy 101:4 (1993): 213–243 (with R. Schoeni).