William Bentley MacLeod

W. Bentley MacLeod is Professor and Research Scholar at Princeton University (SPIA and Economics), Sami Mnaymneh Professor Emeritus of Economics, and Professor of International and Public Affairs Emeritus at Columbia University in the City of New York. Past President (2021–2022), American Law and Economics Association, Past President of the Society of Institutional and Organizational Economics,  Fellow of the Econometric Society (elected 2005) and the Society of Labor Economists (elected 2012).  He is a labor economist specializing in organizational economics and its application to problems of incentive design in education, health, and employment.  See “Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment: Thirty Years On, joint with James Malcomson for a review of his earlier research.  

His recent publications include Advanced Microeconomics for Contract, Institutional and Organizational Economics,  MIT Press April 2022, “Mandatory Retirement for Judges Improved the Performance of U.S. State Supreme Courts” joint with Elliott Ash, Forthcoming, American Economic Journal: Economic Policy. Working Paper Version, “Reducing Partisanship in Judicial Elections Can Improve Judge Quality: Evidence from U.S. State Supreme Courts”, joint with Elliott Ash, Journal of Public Economics, 201, 2021, “Why does the US have the best research universities?”, (with Miquel Urquiola), Journal of Economics Perspectives, 2021,  “Understanding Doctor Decision Making: The Case of Depression Treatment,” (with Janet Currie), Econometrica, 2020, “The Big Sort: College Reputation and Labor Market Outcomes,”  (E Riehl, J Saavedrea and M Urquiola), American Economics Journal: Applied Economics, 2017, “Diagnosis and Unnecessary Procedure Use: Evidence from C-sections,”  (with J Currie), Journal of Labor Economics, 2017, “Human Capital: The missing link between behavior and rational choice,”  Labour Economics, 2016, “Reputation and School Choice,” American Economic Review, 2015, (with M. Urquiola); “Institutions and Contract Enforcement,” Journal of Labor Economics, 2015 (with A. Falk and D. Huffman); “Optimal Contracting in the Shadow of the Law,” Rand Journal of Economics, 2009 (with S. Chakravarty); “Performance Pay and Wage Inequality”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2009 (with T. Lemieux and D. Parent); “First Do Not Harm: Tort Reform and Birth Outcomes”, Quarterly Journal of Economics (2008) (with J. Currie); “Reputations, Relationships and Contract Enforcement”, Journal of Economics Literature (2007) and “Optimal Contracting with Subjective Evaluation,” American Economic Review (2003).

He is the recipient of the 2002 H. Gregg Lewis prize awarded by the Society of Labor Economists for his article “Worker Cooperation and the Ratchet” with H. Lorne Carmichael. His teaching career begun with a two-year stint teaching mathematics and physics at Okundi Secondary School in Nigeria, an experience that led to his interest in economics in order to understand the large variations in national economic performance. After completing his PhD in economics, he has taught at Queen’s University, Université de Montréal, Boston College, University of Southern California, California Institute of Technology and a year  at Princeton University, Columbia University, before coming to Princeton University. He has held one-year visiting positions at CORE, Belgium, IAE, Barcelona, Russell Sage Foundation, Princeton University, the California Institute of Technology and The Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, NJ. He was Program Director for Personnel and Behavioral Economics, IZA, Bonn 2003–2007. 

Bentley holds a B.A. (with distinction) and an M.Sc. in mathematics from Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada, and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

Updated August 29, 2023