Labor & Worklife Program at Harvard Law School
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Changing Labor Markets Project and Big Data

Printable Version

International Big Data Project

The International Big Data Project consists of two projects based at The Labor and Worklife Program at the Harvard Law School and NBER:

  • Historical Big Data Project: collecting disaggregated data to understand regional growth
  • Big Data Innovation and Product Development Project: collecting product level data to create new indices measuring firm innovation

Global Labor Survey

In collaboration with the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and generous support from the Ford Foundation, the Labor and Worklife Program has gathered a massive amount of information on labor and employment issues from over 1,500 persons in 33 countries through its internet-based 2004 Global Labor Survey. The survey focused on de facto labor practices in countries around the world, covering issues such as freedom of association, the regulation of work contracts, employee benefits and the prevalence of collective bargaining.

Click Here for the NBER working paper

Data can be found on Davin Chor's website: Click Here


Misclassification in Construction

Bricklayer, detail from a mural, "The Best Hands in the Business," 1995, by Kathleen Farrell, artist and muralist.

You can call a construction worker by any other name , but they're still a construction worker, right? Not according to a recent study sponsored by Harvard Law School's Labor and Worklife Program. Construction workers, whose job duties remain unchanged, seem to be turning into "independent contractors," a label that's not only misleading but carries with it important worker compensation insurance and tax collection implications. The study, "The Social and Economic Costs of Employee Misclassification in Construction," conducted by Dr. Francoise Carre and Randall Wilson at UMass Boston's Center for Social Policy documents an alarming pattern of employee misclassification in both the Maine and Massachusetts construction industries between 2001-2003.

For the Massachusetts Report Click Here

For the Maine Report Click Here


The early 21st century will be remembered as the dawn of a new technological revolution. Over the past few
years, new gadgets and gizmos have redefined our social, political, and economic lives. The impacts of these
changes have been studied extensively. With new Technology Studies departments sprouting in universities
around the globe and terms like “bioethics” becoming common currency in all languages, philosophers and
social scientists are beginning to come to grips with the moral, ethical and legal implications of technological

Undoubtedly, these issues are important, but they don’t help us understand how technology affects our daily
lives. Since we spend most of our waking lives at work, it made a lot of sense to us to begin an investigation
into these changes at the workplace. Our project, is an ambitious venture to understand the
complex and constantly changing modern workplace.

We believe that only by understanding the modern workplace can improvements be made. Through our efforts
we hope to enlighten, inform and assist business, employers and employees in comprehending the nature of
work today as a first step towards making improvements for all.

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A blog founded by Benjamin Sachs (LWP Faculty Co-DIrector) and Jack Goldsmith (Harvard Law School), devoted to workers, unions, and their politics.