MIT economist Michael Greenstone has been named director of the Hamilton Project, a public-policy group at the Brookings Institution in Washington that produces and circulates research on economic and civic issues.
“I hope to insert new ideas into the policy process as our nation confronts a series of daunting challenges,” said Greenstone, MIT’s 3M Professor of Environmental Economics. “I plan to take the best ideas from academia and turn them into actionable policy proposals.” He will serve a two-year term, which began Feb. 1, 2010.
Greenstone will also join Brookings as a senior fellow in Economic Studies; he will remain a member of the MIT faculty.
Greenstone’s work has ranged widely across a number of research areas, from the environment and public finance to labor and health economics. He has conducted extensive studies on environmental topics, including the economic impact of climate change; air quality; hazardous waste sites; and the relationship between the environment and economic growth in developing countries.
Greenstone expects to draw on this breadth of experience in his new role. “We have a series of long-run problems that are not being adequately addressed, including climate and energy policy, the ballooning federal debt, and the stagnant wages that many people have experienced over the last three decades,” Greenstone told MIT News in an interview. “I love academic research and am excited to continue doing it, but I also want to generate direct solutions to the country's problems. The Hamilton Project has been very successful at taking academic ideas and placing them in the public sphere. I want to continue this tradition.”
The Hamilton Project was launched in April 2006. Its three former directors are Peter Orszag, currently director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget; Jason Furman, deputy director of the president’s National Economic Council; and Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office.
Greenstone has served as chief economist on the White House Council of Economic Advisors. He is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a member of MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab. In 2004, Greenstone received the Kenneth J. Arrow Award for best paper in the field of health economics. He is a graduate of Swarthmore College and received his PhD in economics from Princeton.