Associate Professor of Public Policy Randall Akee was featured in an article in Indian Country Today for his role in the organization of a far-reaching symposium on Indian gaming and self-determination. The event, “The Future of American Indian Gaming: The Next 30 Years,” took place at the Brookings Institution and highlighted the importance of tribal regulation of Indian gaming, as opposed to state control. Akee opened the event with a prayer in the native Hawaiian language. The symposium brought together regulators, tribal officials, researchers and federal agency officials who discussed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and the importance of self-determination in Indian gaming. “I see this as the beginning of a broad discussion on the American Indian gaming industry, identifying ways in which we can support better research that informs policymaking at all levels of government whether it be tribal, state or federal,” said Akee, who is currently a fellow at Brookings.
Associate Professor of Public Policy Randall Akee wrote a piece for Econofact on the relationship between voter turnout and family income. Akee pointed out that it is widely known that wealthy people are more likely to vote than poorer people, but the reasons are less fully understood. Understanding why this occurs could help address this form of political inequality and increase participation in the democratic process, he argued. Akee and his colleagues conducted research looking at the voting patterns of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina. They found that increased windfalls from a casino opening did not increase voting participation among parents, but it did among their children. Akee said this may be attributed to more money being invested in education or the families becoming less likely to move away and more likely to become civically engaged.
Associate Professor of Public Policy Randall Akee was intrigued by the personal identity responses on the 2018 American Family Survey, according to Deseret News. Akee said he would be interested in finding out whether race as a component of personal identification is more internal or imposed by society. He suggested it can be further examined by the American Family Survey. He noted, “For white families, 16 percent had had an immediate family member die; for black families, it’s much higher, 25 percent.” Further, he noted that more black and Latino respondents had experienced job loss than white respondents. He said this deserves more scrutiny by policymakers. “This should double our efforts for understanding why that is the case,” Akee concluded.
Changes to North Dakota’s voting requirements threaten to disenfranchise thousands of American Indians, UCLA Luskin’s Randall Akee explained in a podcast for the Brookings Institution, where he is currently a fellow. A U.S. Supreme Court action, less than a month before the November 2018 election, permitted the changes, which require voters to produce identification that includes a street address. Many of North Dakota’s American Indians live on reservations and use a P.O. Box instead of a street address, said Akee, an associate professor of public policy. The new requirements could sway some very close races, including Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s battle to keep her seat, he said. Akee noted that American Indians did not get the right to vote until 1924. “It’s been less than a century that they’ve been allowed to participate in the voting process. And that’s why this particular turn of events, of disenfranchising Native Americans on reservations, is so distasteful.”
Randall Akee, assistant professor of Public Policy and American Indian Studies, wrote an article for the Brookings Institution’s Up Front blog likening the separation of migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border to that of the United States’ former policy of permanently relocating American Indian children from their families and often impoverished communities into foster homes. This practice was in place until as recently as 1978, when the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was enacted, granting tribal governments exclusive jurisdiction over American Indian child custody cases. However, the ICWA was recently ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. District Court for Northern Texas. Akee argues that the state-ordered breakup of tribal families is cruel and unnecessary and, if resumed, could further harm the already largely damaged tribal communities. Furthermore, he argues that indigenous peoples thrive under independence and self-governance, and meddling by state civil and criminal jurisdictions cause these communities to “[experience] an increase in crime and a reduction in incomes,” not to mention the “disastrous” effect on the welfare of the children themselves.
Randall Akee, associate professor of public policy at UCLA Luskin, wrote an opinion article about the federal government’s family separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border, noting, “It’s on each of us to realize that what we’re seeing is history repeating itself.” Akee called the current policy unjust, ill-conceived and inhumane, and likened it to the era of American Indian boarding schools, when “the U.S. government also separated children from parents — often under the guise of improving safety and opportunities for these children.” That separation “often resulted in death, disease and deprivation,” Akee wrote in the Houston Chronicle op-ed, adding, “The Trump administration’s actions in 2018 aren’t, unfortunately, all that different from historical actions taken by the United States toward its indigenous peoples over the last 150 years.”
Randall Akee, associate professor of public policy, authored an article posted on RealClearMarkets about research linking higher levels of psychological stress suffered by blacks — compared to whites — related to short-term unemployment. Citing his own research, Akee suggests that differences in wealth by race might account for differences in unemployment experiences. “There are significant costs to wealth inequality. We have known for some time that it serves as an obstacle to important investment decisions in education and entrepreneurship. Now, we’re finding evidence that it may have adverse effects on individual well-being and mental health in the face of short-term unemployment,” Akee wrote.
By Stan Paul
For Randall Akee, conducting research with restricted-use U.S. Census data has meant time-consuming travel back and forth across the country to Washington.
But a two-year residence in the nation’s capital as a Brookings Institution Fellow starting in September 2017 will allow the assistant professor of public policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs to spend more time working on issues of income inequality across racial and ethnic categories. While there, he will also collaborate with a number of Washington-based American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian organizations, including the National Congress of American Indians.
“It will also, hopefully, foster additional collaboration with agencies that collect data on these populations,” said Akee, citing the Indian Health Service and the Department of the Interior.
Akee, who also holds an appointment in American Indian Studies at UCLA, is among 10 outstanding early- and mid-career scholars and experts selected for the inaugural class of the Brooking Institution’s David M. Rubenstein Fellows. The new fellows will focus on one or more of Brookings’ five research programs. These include economic studies, where Akee will be positioned, as well as governance studies, foreign policy, metropolitan policy, and global economy and development.
The program is funded by a multimillion-dollar gift from Rubenstein, co-chair of the Brookings board of trustees, and co-founder and chief executive officer of the Carlyle Group.
“I believe strongly not just in Brookings’ work to improve governance locally, nationally and globally, but in the Institution’s commitment to fostering diverse thinking in the ranks of public policy researchers and practitioners,” Rubenstein said in announcing the new fellowship program in March 2017. “Finding solutions to the complex challenges we face requires new and innovative thinking that reflects a variety of perspectives, disciplines and experiences.”
In addition to conducting in-depth research and analysis, fellows will have the opportunity to learn about advanced communication tools designed to maximize both the reach and impact of their scholarship. Akee said he is looking forward to working with the century-old nonprofit public policy organization’s experts and staff on research dissemination techniques and methods.
“Overall, I expect it to be a very productive time,” said Akee, who is also a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, as well as a number of organizations and institutes focused on his interests in labor economics, economic development and migration.
UCLA Luskin Assistant Professor Randall Akee of the Department of Public Policy asks a question during the 2017 Applied Policy Project presentations. Photo by George Foulsham
By Asian American Studies Center Staff
Assistant Professor Randall Akee of the Department of Public Policy and American Indian Studies is the 2016-17 recipient of the C. Doris and Toshio Hoshide Distinguished Teaching Prize in Asian American Studies at UCLA.
Akee is emerging as one of the most important and influential scholars studying the socioeconomic conditions of indigenous people and formulating strategies to address their marginalization. He is a former economic development specialist for the state of Hawaii, Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Since 2013, he has served on the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations. Akee has conducted extensive research on several American Indian reservations, Canadian First Nations, and Pacific Island nations in addition to working in various Native Hawaiian communities. His main research interests are labor economics, economic development and migration.
Colleagues and students expressed that Akee is deserving of the Hoshide Award honor. He has taught key courses that benefit Asian American Studies, incorporating Pacific Islanders, an understudied racial group in the United States. One colleague stated, “He epitomizes a faculty who bridges disciplinary silos — American Indian Studies, Asian American Studies and Public Policy — not an easy task at UCLA.”
In his “Economic Principles and Economic Development in Indigenous Communities” course, Akee uses Micronesian migration to Guam and the U.S. and Tongan migration to New Zealand as examples of diaspora of indigenous peoples. The significant international movement of Pacific Islanders makes this group unique among indigenous populations, creating challenges to how students understand the indigenous experience. It is the only course offered at UCLA focusing on the prosperity of indigenous nations and communities globally through economic subsistence.
“I learned first-hand of the high expectations he has for his students. Dr. Akee challenges his students intellectually. As one of a few Pacific Islander students, it made me think about what it meant to be a Pacific Islander scholar,” said one student.
Another student noted, “With the purpose of using data to show how Native people have successfully approached economic development, Dr. Akee effectively engaged our class in a way that felt both very thorough and intimate.”
Akee’s “Pacific Island Economic Development” course focuses on the Anglophone former colonies and countries in the Pacific. The class examines the economic and political development of the Hawaiian Islands, Fiji, the islands of Micronesia, Samoa and Tahiti.
A student commented, “I enjoyed every minute of Dr. Akee’s class because it challenged me to look beyond the scope of my field and bridge western-indigenous methodologies to critique economically sustainable programs in the South Pacific.”
Akee also worked with Pacific Islander graduate students to establish the Graduate Student Association for Pasifika. It was created to support graduate students from Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander descent or areas.
As one student expressed, “Dr. Akee is a role model, but a mentor to countless Pacific Islander students. He offers unencumbered and relentless support to any student seeking his guidance, which, I believe, reflects his love for teaching, research, but more so his community.”
The late C. Doris Hoshide, class of 1934, of Rockville, Maryland, established the teaching prize to annually recognize an outstanding professor in Asian American Studies. She was a longtime supporter of Asian American Studies at her alma mater. The Hoshide Prize includes a $1000 award.
Akee received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in political economy, his M.A. from Yale University in international and development economics, and his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College in economics. The award was announced by the Asian American Studies Center’s Interim Director Marjorie Kagawa Singer and Assistant Director Melany De La Cruz-Viesca.
Randall Akee is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles in the Department of Public Policy and American Indian Studies. He is currently on leave as a David M. Rubenstein Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. He completed his Ph.D. at Harvard University in June 2006. Prior to his doctoral studies, Dr. Akee earned a Master’s degree in International and Development Economics at Yale University. He also spent several years working for the State of Hawaii Office of Hawaiian Affairs Economic Development Division.
Dr. Akee is a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in Labor Studies and the Children’s Groups. He is also a research fellow at the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development and at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), a faculty affiliate at the UCLA California Center for Population Research (CCPR) at UCLA and a faculty affiliate at UC Berkelely Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA). His main research interests are Labor Economics, Economic Development and Migration.
Previous research has focused on the determinants of migration and human trafficking, the effect of changes in household income on educational attainment, the effect of political institutions on economic development and the role of property institutions on investment decisions. Current research focuses on income inequality and immobility by race and ethnicity in the US. Dr. Akee has worked on several American Indian reservations, Canadian First Nations, and Pacific Island nations in addition to working in various Native Hawaiian communities.
From August 2006 until August 2009 he was a Research Associate at IZA, where he also served as Deputy Program Director for Employment and Development. Prior to UCLA (2009-2012), he was an Assistant Professor at Tufts University and spent AY 2011-2012 at the Center for Labor Economics at University of California, Berkeley.
In June 2013 he was named to the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations.
Published and Forthcoming Papers:
“Estimating Institutionalization and Homelessness for Status First Nations in Canada: A Method and Implications,” forthcoming in International Indigenous Policy Journal. (with Donna Feir)
“Socioeconomic Outcomes for Indigenous Students attending a High Performing School” forthcoming at Journal of American Indian Education.
“How Does Household Income Affect Child Personality Traits and Behaviors?” (with E. Simeonova, J. Costello, and B. Copeland) American Economic Review, 108(3), 775-827.
“The Role of Race, Ethnicity and Tribal Enrollment on Asset Accumulation: An Examination of American Indian Tribal Nations”. (with Sue K. Stockly, William Darity Jr, Darrick Hamilton, and Paul Ong), forthcoming in Ethnic and Racial Studies.
“Critical Junctures and Economic Development — Evidence from the Adoption of Constitutions Among American Indian Nations.” (with Miriam Jorgensen and Uwe Sunde), Journal of Comparative Economics, 2015, Volume 43, pp. 844-861.
“The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and Its Effects on American Indian Economic Development” (with Katherine Spilde and Jonathan Taylor) Journal of Economic Perspectives, Summer 2015, Volume 29, No. 3, pp. 185-208.
Press: American Economics Association
“Social and Economic Changes on American Indian Reservations in California: an Examination of Twenty Years of Tribal Government Gaming” (with Katherine Spilde and Jonathan Taylor) UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal, 2014, Volume 18, No. 2.
“Investigating the Effects of Furloughing Public School Teachers on Juvenile Crime in Hawaii” (with T. Halliday and S. Kwak), Economics of Education Review, Volume 42, 2014, pp. 1-11.
Press: KITV News, Hawaii News Now, Honolulu Star Advertiser, West Hawaii Today
“Property Institutions and Business Investment on American Indian Reservations” (with M. Jorgensen), Regional Science and Urban Economics, Volume 46, 2014, pp. 116-125.
“Transnational Tracking, Law Enforcement and Victim Protection: A Middleman Tracker’s Perspective” (with A. Basu, A. Bedi and N. Chau), Journal of Law and Economics, May 2014, v. 57, pp. 349-386.
“Young Adult Obesity and Household Income: Effects of Unconditional Cash Transfers.” (with Emilia Simeonova, J. Costello, W. Copeland, and A. Angold), American Economics Journal: Applied Economics, 2013, 5(2):1-28.
Press: New York Times
Blog Posts: Daily Kos, The Economist, The Washington Post
“The Persistence of Self-Employment Across Borders: New Evidence on Legal Immigrants to the United States”, (with David A Jaeger and Konstantinos Tatsiramos) Economics Bulletin, Vol. 33 No. 1 pp. 126-137, 2013.
“Skin Tone’s Decreasing Importance on Employment: Evidence from a Longitudinal Dataset, 1985-2000.” (with Mutlu Yuksel) Industrial and Labor Relations Review, V. 62, No. 2, 2012.
“Errors in Self-Reported Wages: The Role of Previous Earnings Volatility and Individual Characteristics.” Journal of Development Economics, V. 96, No. 2, Nov. 2011, pp. 409-421.
“‘Counting Experience’ Among the Least Counted: The Role of Cultural and Community Engagement on Educational Outcomes for American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Students.” (with Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz), American Indian Culture and Research Journal, V. 35 Num. 3, pp. 119-150, 2011.
“Parents’ Incomes and Children’s Outcomes: A Quasi-Experiment with Casinos on American Indian Reservations,” (with J. Costello, W. Copeland, G. Keeler and A. Angold), American Economics Journal: Applied Economics, Volume 2, No. 1, January 2010, pp. 86-115.
“First People Lost: Determining the State of Status First Nations Mortality in Canada using Administrative Data,” (with D. Feir) revise and resubmit at Canadian Journal of Economics.
“Racial and Ethnic Income Inequality and Mobility from 2000 to 2014: Evidence from Matched IRS-Census Bureau Data.” (with M. Jones and S. Porter), revise and resubmit at Demography.
“Family Income and the Intergenerational Transmission of Voting Behavior: Evidence from an Income Intervention,” (with E. Simeonova, J. Holbein, E. Costello and W. Copeland)
“Reservation Nonemployer and Employer Establishments: Data from U.S. Census Longitudinal Business Databases,” (with Elton Mykerezi and Richard Todd)
Research Reports and Books:
“Access to Capital and Credit in Native Communities: A Data Review,” Native Nations Institute Report, with Miriam Jorgensen.
“American Indians on Reservations: A Databook of Socioeconomic Change from 1990 to 2010,” 2014, with Jonathan Taylor.
Research Report for the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. “Migrant Households In India: A Comparison Of The Average Migrant Household And Migrant Households With Non-Resident Accounts In Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra And Punjab.” A Joint Report of Center for Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania, 2012, with Devesh Kapur.
Research in Labor Economics. “Child Labor and the Transition between School and Work” 2010. Vol. 31, edited with Eric Edmonds and Konstantinos Tatsiramos, Emerald Publishing.
Institute for the Study of Labor Prize Book. “Wages, School Quality and Employment Demand David Card and Alan Krueger” 2011. edited with Klaus Zimmermann, Oxford University Press.
Indian Country Today Media Network, April 10, 2016
Indian Country Today Media Network, March 3, 2016.
Noelani Arista. Indian Country Today Media Network, November 20, 2015.