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Katharine Abraham Ph.D.

Katharine Abraham, Ph.D.


Joint Program in Survey Methodology
1218 LeFrak Hall
College Park , Maryland 20742
Office Phone: 301-405-1004


  1. Ph.D. in Economics, Harvard University, 1982.
  2. Dissertation title: "Vacancies, Unemployment and Wage Growth"
  3. B.S. in Economics, with a minor in Statistics, Iowa State University, 1976.
  4. Carleton College, 1972-1974.


Recent Accomplishments

Abraham’s recent research activities have focused principally on time use measurement and analysis, though she also has maintained an interest in labor market policy topics. From 2002-2004, she chaired a National Academy of Sciences panel on accounting for non-market activity; its report, Beyond the Market, was published in 2005 by the National Academy Press. With Suzanne Bianchi and others from various federal agencies, she organized the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) Early Results conference, held in December 2005. Abraham’s paper with graduate student Aaron Maitland and Bianchi, forthcoming in Public Opinion Quarterly, documents significant and systematic non-response to the ATUS, but finds no evidence of resulting bias in estimates of time devoted to major categories of activity. Work with graduate student Sara Helms and Stanley Presser, however, demonstrates that ATUS respondents are much more likely to volunteer than sample members who did not respond, leading to a significant upward bias in ATUS estimates of volunteer activity. In other research, Abraham’s recent paper in the Journal of Human Resources with graduate student Melissa Clark documents the dramatic increase in college enrollment rates attributable to the District of Columbia Tuition Assistance Grant program. Another paper, with Susan Houseman of the Upjohn Institute, explores the barriers faced by older workers who seek to remain employed but work fewer hours, rather than continuing to work full-time or withdraw completely from the labor market.

Funded Research

Abraham was the PI on a grant administered by NICHD to support the ATUS Early Results Conference. Several other federal agencies also contributed conference funding. Abraham is the PI on a recently funded NIH grant, an R01 to develop an ATUS Data Access System that will facilitate analysis of these important new data (NICHD 2006-2011). The USDA has provided additional funding to support this project. She also received funding from the Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Security for her research on retirement transitions.

Future Plans

A substantial share of Abraham’s time over the next five years will be devoted to the development of the recently-funded ATUS Data Access System. She also plans to continue research on time use and on the transition to retirement, and recently began a project with James Spletzer of the Bureau of Labor Statistics using data from the Bureau’s Occupational Employment Survey to study the quality of new jobs.

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