The William G. Bowen Book Award

Announcing the 2021 William G. Bowen Book Award Recipients

Jan Eeckhout Headshot

Jan Eeckhout, author of The Profit Paradox: How Thriving Firms Threaten the Future of Work 


The Profit Paradox Book Cover

Eeckhout, Jan. The Profit Paradox: How Thriving Firms Threaten the Future of Work. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2021. 

Eeckhout takes a macroeconomic look at the rising market power of a small number of dominant firms that capitalize on goods and services, examining how they set themselves apart from peers. As firms increase their profits and offer higher salaries, gaps between low-wage and high-wage earners widen. As they acquire rival firms, the competition for talent narrows, reducing options for employees to change jobs. Although overall productivity continues to grow steadily, some workers have become much more productive than others, and have experienced rapid increases in their wages. Meanwhile, wages remain stagnant for workers with two-year professional degrees and are declining for those with high-school degrees or less. This book explores how the changes in market power for a small number of companies can impact the social mobility for a substantive number of workers, as well as reducing the scope for small businesses to be successful. The creative movement across multiple scales of analysis provides insights about the interconnectedness within our economic systems.

- Annotations by Charissa O. Jefferson, Labor Economics Librarian

About William G. Bowen and the Annual Book Award

William G. Bowen's ties with Princeton and the Industrial Relations Section began in 1955, when he enrolled as a graduate student in economics.  Bowen joined the faculty at Princeton in 1958, upon completion of his Ph.D.  After a decade of teaching and advising, in 1967 Bowen became the second Provost of Princeton University.  He remained Provost until his appointment as the 17th President of Princeton University in 1972, a position he held for 16 years, when he was appointed President of the Mellon Foundation.

William Bowen has spent a life as a scholar and academic administrator, with remarkable achievements in both areas, often at the same time.  His scholarship, which ranges over a wide variety of subjects, is always empirically informed, solidly grounded in common sense, and directly aimed at issues of extraordinary importance for public policy.

In recognition of William Bowen's contribution to the fields of Labor Economics, Industrial Relations, and Human Resources and his long association with the Industrial Relations Section, the Section has established an annual award in his name. This award is presented to the book making the most important contribution toward understanding public policy related to industrial relations and the operation of labor markets.

Nominations from authors or publishers are not solicited nor accepted; this is an independent selection process.