Larry Kahn, ILR's first Braunstein Family Professorship chairholder, became interested in economics as an undergraduate studying mathematics.
In graduate school, he took a fascinating labor economics sequence and decided to become a labor economist.
"I found the courses really interesting and central to society," said Kahn, whose professorship will be formally dedicated at a Statler reception tonight.
The new chair established by Doug Braunstein '83, chief financial officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co.
"I am deeply honored to be the first Braunstein Family Professor and extremely grateful to Doug and his family for their generous endowment of this chair and loyalty to and support of Cornell," Kahn said.
Much of Kahn's research has centered on wage inequality and gender-based pay gaps.
Another area of focus has been sports economics.
Many in his field credit him with establishing the sports labor market as a laboratory for testing general labor market hypotheses through an influential paper he published in 2000.
"The sports business offers much better opportunities for testing hypotheses than most other sectors because you can more easily observe performance and compensation. In sports, we have detailed measures of athletic statistics and information on individual player contracts," Kahn said.
A professor of economics and labor relations, Kahn investigates issues such as the role of anti-trust law and collective bargaining in sports, the effect of race on salaries of professional athletes and coaches, and the impact of free agent status on professional baseball players' salaries.
He has taught a course on collective bargaining in the sports world since joining ILR in 1994. One of his former students is A.J. Preller, a 1999 Cornell graduate who is now an executive with the Texas Rangers. The team made it into the World Series this year.
On wage inequality research and gender pay issues, Kahn often collaborates with Fran Blau, his wife and ILR's Frances Perkins Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations.
Their joint research on women's labor supply has been used by the Congressional Budget Office in its estimates of the impact of tax reforms on the federal budget deficit.
Kahn has also been researching European systems of employment protection. One of his studies finds that regulations protecting workers from being fired, while providing job security for incumbent employees, come at the expense of others, such as women, youth, less skilled employees and immigrants.
More about Kahn’s work can be seen at http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/directory/lmk12.