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.
Assistant professors in Urban Planning and Public Policy recognized for their capacity for distinction in research.
Urban Planning assistant professor Paavo Monkkonen and Public Policy assistant professor Randall Akee have been named 2014-15 Hellman Fellows for demonstrating a capacity for great distinction in their research. There are eleven recipients of the award in total.
The UCLA Hellman Fellows Program established in 2011 was created to help junior faculty pursue their research passions. The grant will act as seed money for assistant professors to fund their research and other creative activities that promote and enhance their career advancement.
Monkkonen, who teaches courses at UCLA Luskin in housing markets and policy and global urban segregation, was chosen as a fellow for his project “The Half-life of Childhood: How Economic Development Shapes Young Adults’ Household Position.” The half-life of childhood refers to the age at which half of the population is no longer a child. The goal of his project is to better understand how economic development affects household structure, especially the age at which children leave their parents’ home and form a new household. Monkkonen notes that household formation has a major impact on housing markets, and this information will be important to future projections of the number of households which influences housing policy.
“I am honored to have been selected as a Hellman Scholar,”he said. “The generous research grant will enable me to hire graduate student researchers to assist me with data manipulation and analysis, which for this project is very time-consuming. The study uses individual census records from over 70 countries in multiple time periods, which translates into hundreds of millions of observations! I have been trying to get this project going for a number of years but have not had the resources, so it is very exciting that I can get this research underway.”
Akee was awarded the fellowship for his project “How Do Changes in Unearned Income Affect American Indian Infant and Children? The Case of American Indian Casino Revenue Transfers.” The purpose of his research is to determine how the advent of casino operations and other large changes in household income of American Indians affects American Indian infants and children. According to Akee, preliminary data has shown that increased incomes have led to a reduction in behavioral disorders and substance abuse for American Indian adolescents. However, there has been no determination into what degree revenue changes have affected infants and younger children. Akee’s study will look at the effects of increases in unearned income on AI maternal behavior as well as educational outcomes for infants and children.
“I’m very excited and grateful for the award. It allows me to hire an MPP student over the course of the summer at full-time in order to work on the data,” Akee said. “It allows the research to get completed at a much quicker pace than I would otherwise be able to do it. Also, it trains one of our MPP students in data analysis. I’m very eager to see the research outputs that will come as a result of this fellowship.”