Headshot of Dr. Ioana Marinescu

Ioana E. Marinescu, PhD

  • Associate Professor

  • Faculty Research Fellow, National Bureau of Economic Research

3701 Locust Walk, Caster Building
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6214

Research Interests

Evaluation of the labor market impact of public policies, e.g. unemployment insurance and the minimum wage

Imperfect competition in the labor market, antitrust and competition policy as applied to the labor market

Online job search, search and matching in the labor market

Unconditional cash transfers, the universal basic income

Technology and structural changes in the labor market

Education to work transitions

The politics of the carbon tax

Ioana Marinescu is an economist who studies the labor market to craft policies that can enhance employment, productivity, and economic security. To make an informed policy decision, it is crucial to determine the costs and benefits of policies. Dr. Marinescu’s research expertise includes online job search, antitrust & the labor market, the universal basic income, unemployment insurance, the minimum wage, and employment contracts.

Dr. Marinescu’s research has been published in leading academic journals such as the Journal of Labor Economics, the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, and the Journal of Public Economics. She has testified for policy makers, including the Federal Trade Commission, and has briefed Congressional Staff. Her research has been cited in many media outlets including the New York Times, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal. She writes a monthly op-ed for the French newspaper Liberation.

Dr. Marinescu is a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. You can follow her on twitter @mioana and check out her research on her website,

Marinescu, Ioana and Herbert Hovenkamp. 2019. “Anticompetitive Mergers in Labor Markets.” Indiana Law Journal, vol. 94, 2019.

Mergers of competitors are conventionally challenged under the federal antitrust laws when they threaten to lessen competition in some product or service market in which the merging firms sell.  Mergers can also injure competition in markets where the firms purchase, including the labor market. Recent empirical work in economics has shown that market concentration is very high in many labor markets and that higher labor market concentration is associated with lower wages.  Here, we offer an empirically based legal assessment of the problem of mergers that facilitate anticompetitive wage and salary suppression.  We consider the most likely problems that courts will encounter in such litigation, including market definition, assessment of market concentration, the role of non-compete and non-poaching agreements as aggravating factors for concentration, and application of the government’s Merger Guidelines. Given the high level of concentration in many labor markets, a mature policy of pursuing mergers because of harmful effects in labor markets could yield many cases. Courts must be in a position to adequately deal with such cases based on the application of the existing merger review framework to the analysis of anticompetitive effects in the labor market.

Marinescu, Ioana and Ronald Wolthoff. 2019. “Opening the Black Box of the Matching Function: The Power of Words.” Journal of Labor Economics, forthcoming.

On the leading job board, high-wage job postings unexpectedly attract fewer applicants, and this is the case even within a detailed occupation. Viewed through the lens of our directed search model, this negative relationship is indicative of substantial applicant heterogeneity within an occupation. Empirically, we find that job title heterogeneity is key: within a job title, jobs with 10% higher wages do attract 7.7% more applicants. Furthermore, our findings are consistent with a higher return to worker quality for hires in “manager” and “senior” job titles. Overall, our findings demonstrate the power of words in the matching process.

Marinescu, Ioana, and Roland Rathelot. 2018. “Mismatch Unemployment and the Geography of Job Search.” American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, ol. 10, No. 3, July 2018, pp.42-70.

Could we significantly reduce U.S. unemployment by helping job seekers move closer to jobs?  Using data from the leading employment board, we show that, indeed, workers dislike applying to distant jobs: job seekers are 35% less likely to apply to a job 10 miles away from their ZIP code of residence. However, because job seekers are close enough to vacancies on average, this distaste for distance is fairly inconsequential: our search and matching model predicts that relocating job seekers to minimize unemployment would decrease unemployment by only 5.3%. Geographic mismatch is thus a minor driver of aggregate unemployment.

Marinescu, Ioana. 2017. “The General Equilibrium Impacts of Unemployment Insurance: Evidence from a Large Online Job Board.” Journal of Public Economics 150 (June): 14–29. doi:10.1016/j.jpubeco.2017.02.012.

During the Great Recession, U.S. unemployment benefits were extended by up to 73 weeks. Theory predicts that extensions increase unemployment by discouraging job search, a partial equilibrium effect. Using data from the large job board, I find that a 10% increase in benefit duration decreased state-level job applications by 1%, but had no robust effect on job vacancies. Job seekers thus faced reduced competition for jobs, a general equilibrium effect. Calibration implies that the general equilibrium effect reduces the impact of unemployment insurance on unemployment by 39%.

Marinescu, Ioana. 2017. “No Strings Attached: The Behavioral Effects of U.S. Unconditional Cash Transfer Programs.” New York, NY, USA: Roosevelt Institute, 2017.

This is a review of the literature on the behavioral impacts of unconditional cash transfers in the United States. Unconditional cash transfers had little to no effect on employment, and improved health and education among the poorest children.

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