Carnegie Mellon University

Karen  Clay

Karen Clay

Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Heinz College
Courtesy Professor, Tepper School of Business
Courtesy Professor, Engineering and Public Policy

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


  • Stanford University - Ph D (Economics) - 1994
  • University of Virginia - BA - 1988



Working Papers

The Short-Run and Long-Run Effects of Resources on Economic Outcomes: Evidence From the United States 1936-2015 (with Margarita Portnykh) NBER Working Paper #24695.

Toxic Truth: Lead and Fertility (with Margarita Portnykh and Edson Severnini) NBER Working Paper #24607 and IZA Working Paper #11541.

The External Costs of Transporting Petroleum Products by Pipelines and Rail: Evidence From Shipments of Crude Oil from North Dakota. (with Akshaya Jha, Nick Muller, Randy Walsh).  NBER Working Paper #23852.  Abstract.

Canary in a Coal Mine: Impact of Mid-20th Century Air Pollution on Infant Mortality and Property Values (with Joshua Lewis and Edson Severnini) NBER Working Paper #22155 and IZA Working Paper #9484.

Laws, Educational Outcomes, and Returns to Schooling: Evidence from the Full Count 1940 Census NBER Working Paper #22855 (with Jeff Lingwall and Mel Stephens).  Featured in VoxEU.

Controlling Tuberculosis? Evidence from the Mother of all Community-Wide Health Experiments (with Peter Juul Egedeso, Casper Worm Hansen, and Peter Sandholt Jensen). University of Copenhagen Working Paper, No. 18-03.

Coal, Smoke, and Death: Bituminous Coal and American Home Heating (with Alan Barreca and Joel Tarr) NBER Working Paper #19881 and IZA Working Paper #7987.


The Evolution of a Nation: How Geography and Law Shaped the American States 2011 (with Daniel Berkowitz)  Princeton University Press. It is available for order through Amazon.

Refereed Publications

"Pollution, Infectious Disease, and Infant Mortality: Evidence from the 1918-1919 Spanish Influenza Pandemic"(with Joshua Lewis and Edson Severnini) NBER Working Paper #21635 and IZA Working Paper #9399. Forthcoming, Journal of Economic History.

"Does Cash Cropping Adversely Affect Nutrition? Evidence from the Rise and Fall of Pellagra in the American South" (with Ethan Schmick and Werner Troesken). NBER Working Paper #23730. Forthcoming, Journal of Economic History.

"Adapting to Climate Change: Evidence from Long-Run Changes in the Temperature-Mortality Relationship in the 20th Century United States." (with Alan Barreca, Olivier Deschenes, Michael Greenstone, and Joseph Shapiro) Journal of Political Economy 124.1(2016):323-342.

"Convergence in Adaptation to Climate Change: Evidence from High Temperatures and Mortality, 1900-2004"(with Alan Barreca, Olivier Deschenes, Michael Greenstone, and Joseph Shapiro) American Economic Review, Paper and Proceedings 105(5) (May 2015): 247-251.

"The Pittsburgh Region’s First Natural Gas Boom: Development, Policy and Environmental Effects, 1878-1920." (with Joel Tarr) Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 139.3 (2015):323-342.

"Lead and Mortality." (with Werner Troesken and Michael Haines) Review of Economics and Statistics v96, n3 (July 2014): 458-470. 

"Tariff Choice with Consumer Learning and Switching Costs" (with Ron Goettler), Journal of Marketing Research v48 (August 2011 ): 633-652. Lead article.

"Pittsburgh as an Energy Capital:  A Life-Cycle Perspective on Coal and the Transition to Natural Gas" (with Joel Tarr), in Energy Capitals: Local Impact, Global Influence Edited by Martin Melosi and Joseph Pratt. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. 

"Gold Rush Legacy: American Minerals and the Knowledge Economy" (with Gavin Wright), in The Evolution of Property Rights Related to Land and Natural Resources. Edited by Daniel Cole and Elinor Ostrom.  Cambridge: Lincoln Land Institute Press, 2011.

"Did Frederick Brodie Discover the World's First Environmental Kuznets Curve? Coal Smoke and the Rise and Fall of the London Fog" (with Werner Troesken), in The Economics of Climate Change: Adaptations Past and Present. Edited by Gary Libecap and Richard H. Steckel. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.

"Natural Resources and Economic Outcomes," in Economic Evolution and Revolution in Historical Time. Edited by Paul Rhode, Joshua Rosenbloom and David Weiman. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011. 
Adapted version published as "Are Natural Resources a Curse for Growth?" in World Financial Review, September/October 2011.

"Migrating to Riches? Evidence from the California Gold Rush" (with Randy Jones). Journal of Economic History, v68 (December 2008):997-1027.

"The Effect of Judicial Independence on Courts:  Evidence from the American States" (with Dan Berkowitz), Journal of Legal Studies, v35, n2 (June 2006): 399-440.

"Ranchos and the Politics of Land Claims" with Werner Troesken. Land of Sunshine: Toward an Environmental History of Los Angeles.  Edited by Bill Deverell and Greg Hise.  Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006.

"American Civil Law Origins: Implications for State Constitutions "(with Dan Berkowitz), American Law and Economics Review, v7, n1 (Spring 2005): 62-84.

"Order Without Law?  Property Rights During the California Gold Rush" (with Gavin Wright) Explorations in Economic History, v42, n2 (April 2005): 155-183.

"Bigger may not be Better: An Empirical Analysis of Optimal Membership Rules in Peer to Peer Networks" (with Atip Asvunund, Ramayya Krishnan, and Michael Smith) Information Systems Research, v.15, n2 (2004): 155-174.

"Designing a Better Shopbot" (with Alan Montgomery, Kartik Hosanager, and Ramayya Krishnan), Management Science, v50, n2 (February 2004): 189-206.

"Further Tests of Static Oligopoly Models: Whiskey, 1882-1898" with Werner Troesken, Journal of Industrial Economics, v51, n2 (June 2003): 151-166.

"Strategic Behavior in Whiskey Distilling, 1887-1895" with Werner Troesken, Journal of Economic History, v62, n4 (December 2002): 999-1023.

"Institutional Barriers to Electronic Commerce: An Historical Perspective" with Robert Strauss, Advances in Strategic Management, v19 (2002):247-273.

"Retail Strategies on the Web: Price and Non-Price Competition in the Online Book Industry" with Ramayya Krishnan, Eric Wolff, and Danny Fernnades, Journal of Industrial Economics, v50, n3 (September 2002): 351-67.

"The Great Experiment: Pricing on the Internet" with Ramayya Krishnan and Michael D. Smith. The E-Business Handbook. Edited by Paul B. Lowry, J. Owen Cherrington, and Ronald R. Watson, New York: CRC Press, 2002.

"Prices and Price Dispersion on the Web: Evidence from the Online Book Industry" with Ramayya Krishnan and Eric Wolff, Journal of Industrial Economics, v49, n4 (December 2001): 521-39.

"Trust, Risk and Electronic Commerce: Nineteenth Century Lessons for the Twenty-First Century " with Robert Strauss, State Tax Notes (Reprinted from the Proceedings of the National Tax Association), December 25, 2000.

"The Choice-Within-Constraints New Institutionalism and Implications for Sociology", with Paul Ingram, Annual Review of Sociology, v 26 (2000): 525-546.

"Squatting and the Settlement of the United States:  New Evidence from Post-Gold Rush California", with Werner Troesken, Advances in Agricultural Economic History, v1 (2000): 207-33.

"Property Rights and Institutions:  Congress and the California Land Act of 1851".  Journal of Economic History, v59, n1 (March 1999): 122-42.

"Trade, Institutions, and Law:  The Experience of Mexican California".  Studies in the Economic History of the Pacific Rim.  Edited by Sally M. Miller, A. J. H. Latham, and Dennis O. Flynn.  New York:  Routledge, 1998.  

"Trade, Institutions, and Credit:  Contract Enforcement on the California Coast, 1830-1846".  Explorations in Economic History, v34, n4 (October 1997): 495-521.

"Trade Without Law:  Private-Order Institutions in Mexican California".  Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, v13, n1 (April 1997): 202-31.

"A Coasean General Equilibrium Model of Regulation".  Journal of Public Economics, v53, n3 (March 1994): 459-75.

"Ex Post vs. Ex Ante Pricing:  Optional Calling Plans and Tapered Tariffs", with David Sibley and Padmanabhan Srinagesh, Journal of Regulatory Economics, v4, n2 (June 1992): 115-38. To be reprinted in The Economics of Public Utilities, edited by Ray Rees, Edward Elgar.