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Department Updates December 09, 2022

A new podcast records the history of industrial relations and labor economics

In 1921, Clarence Hicks, a renowned labor relations expert and Standard Oil Company executive, was invited to give a guest lecture at Princeton. It was during that visit that Hicks had the idea for a unique library of data and information on labor issues–gathered from businesses, unions, and other sources–to aid research in the growing field of industrial relations.

The next year, Hicks’ boss, John D. Rockefeller, was easily persuaded to provide the initial funding for what would become Princeton’s Industrial Relations Section (IRS)—a new research center that would not only maintain and grow the library, but also serve as hub for the most innovative research in the field.

Next spring, IRS will celebrate its centenary with a series of events to mark 100 years of research, engagement, and public service. But even before the celebrations begin, the Section is sharing a deep dive into the modern history of the field. 

A new podcast hosted by Professor Orley Ashenfelter

In “The Work Goes On,”—a new podcast launched by IRS in December 2022—Princeton’s Orley Ashenfelter will interview some of the most influential economists of the modern era to record an oral history of labor economics and industrial relations. Ashenfelter, who served as IRS director for more than 30 years, is the Joseph Douglas Green 1895 Professor of Economics at Princeton.

New episodes will be released every two weeks, and you can listen wherever you get your podcasts.

SoundCloud  Amazon Music

iTunes Spotify

The inaugural episode: The University of Arizona’s Ronald Oaxaca

In the first episode, Ashenfelter talks to Ronald Oaxaca, the McClelland Professor of Economics at the University of Arizona, about his foundational work on gender pay discrimination. 

Going back to Oaxaca’s Ph.D. studies at Princeton, Oaxaca and Ashenfelter discuss:  

Listen to the Oaxaca interview

If you’re a student of history, a labor economist, or anyone interested in how research gets made, we hope you’ll tune in and follow along! If you have feedback, questions, or comments about the podcast, we’d love to hear from you. Reach out at

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