Economic Mobility and Educational Attainment in Immigrant and African American Communities: Besufekad Alemu

November 23, 2021

Dr. Besufekad Alemu completed his dissertation in 2020 under the supervision of Joe Ritter and was recognized with the Department’s Outstanding Dissertation Award.  Alemu’s dissertation consists of studies within the topics of economic mobility and educational attainment. The main groups under study are immigrants and African Americans within the U.S. Each of the three chapters use a combination of historical linked Census records, administrative, and other publicly available data. The first chapter studied the impact of ethnic capital during childhood on the future economic outcomes of immigrant males. The second chapter made use of a combined dataset of linked census records and lynchings to analyze the effects of exposure to county-level lynchings during childhood on the economic and labor outcomes of African American males. The third chapter focused on elementary students in a Midwestern county and investigated how wintry weather affects the Black-White disparity in unexcused absences.


Alemu’s graduate studies were supported by a University of Minnesota DOVE Fellowship, the Hsieh Fellowship, and a CFANS DOVE Fellowship.  He also worked as a research assistant for the Minnesota Population Center, the School of Social Work, and the Office for Business and Community Economic Development.  Dr. Alemu is now an economist at the U.S. Census Bureau, Social, Economic, and Housing Statistics Division. His work aims to understand the factors contributing to the persistence of racial and ethnic disparities in labor market and educational outcomes.