Bolton, formerly of Princeton, studies the way contracts are used to handle the kind of issues that come up in, say, a big merger. He’s also an expert on debt restructuring and was widely cited during the debate over whether Iraq’s creditors should have claims on its oil. Columbia was able to offer his wife, Ailsa Röell, a position in its public-affairs school, where she studies stock-market regulation and corporate governance.
Currie is an innovator. At UCLA, she developed a new way to measure the effectiveness of children's health-care and education programs. She is viewed as a tireless department-builder who will be crucial to Columbia's efforts to develop young talent in the applied micro area in which she specializes. Columbia's generous housing also made it easy for her to give up a five-bedroom house in Southern California.
W. Bentley MacLeod
Bentley MacLeod, formerly of USC, is an expert on labor contracts and the way employers use wages and other incentives to motivate workers. He is also an editor of the Journal of Labor Economics, the top publication in that field. MacLeod is married to Currie, and the couple was impressed with a full-service prep school run by the university. This made a move to Morningside Heights more practical for a family with two elementary-school-age children.
Vytlacil is, like Currie, an applied microeconomist. At Stanford, Vytlacil studied the impact of education on wages and the effectiveness of drug and alcohol treatment programs. He is also an innovator in the field of econometrics, the statistical methods economists use to analyze data. Vytlacil was a student of Michael Woodford’s during his undergrad days at Chicago and interpreted his former professor’s hiring as a sign that Columbia was on the rebound.
Salanié is a leading microeconomic theorist, most recently at the École Polytechnique in Paris. He and co-author Pierre-André Chiappori recently found evidence that economists’ standard assumptions about insurance—that people at higher risk of accidents or illness tend to buy more of it—may not actually be true. Salanié wasn’t eager to leave Paris until he visited Columbia in 2004. “There’s just an energy you feel in New York,” he says. Salanié was also expecting Chiappori to accept an offer from Columbia and was eager to be near his frequent collaborator.
Chiappori, who comes to Columbia from Chicago, studies insurance issues: whether an insurance company should be allowed to screen a policyholder’s DNA, for example. He also does research into the ways families make decisions about issues like divorce, fertility, and education. In addition to working with Salanié, Chiappori had frequently exchanged ideas with Bolton. He was pleased that his wife, a bioethicist, landed a job at Columbia, too.
Che, formerly of the University of Wisconsin, does research into bargaining, auctions, and contracts. A recent paper on the value of legal representation suggests that, in many cases, lawyers have little influence on the outcome of a trial. Che came to work with Bolton, Chiappori, and Salanié.