December 9, 2020

Rouse to be Nominated as Chair of Council of Economic Advisers

By Donald Gilpin

Cecilia Rouse (Photo courtesy of Princeton University)

Cecilia Rouse, dean of Princeton’s University’s School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA), will be nominated to chair the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), President-elect Joe Biden announced last week.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Rouse will be the first African American and the fourth woman to lead the CEA. She will be taking office and advising the president at a critical time, as the economy continues to battle the effects of an ongoing pandemic, with millions still unemployed.

Rouse, who previously served on the CEA in the Obama administration and as an economic adviser on the White House National Economic Council in the Clinton administration, has recently called for new federal protections for workers in response to the pandemic, according to the New York Times. 

In June, she was a co-leader of a letter signed by more than 150 professors, economists, and other
scholars, urging Congressional leaders to pass “a multifaceted relief bill of a magnitude commensurate with the challenges our economy faces.”

A labor economist, much of whose research has focused on education and on workers, Rouse, in a recent New York Times interview, commented on the motivating forces in her academic and public life. “I found myself drawn to study the labor market in all of its dimensions — the reasons that jobs disappear, the impact of education on people’s job prospects, the ways we can tear down barriers to job growth and make it easier for people to find long-lasting economic security,” she said. 

“I am focused on the task ahead,” Rouse wrote in a Twitter post on November 30. “The job is about advising the president on how to rebuild and revive our economy. The planning for a fairer economy, grounded in facts and evidence, begins now.”

On December 1 on Twitter, she added, “This is a moment of urgency and opportunity unlike anything we’ve faced in modern times. The urgency of ending a devastating crisis. And the opportunity to build a better economy in its wake — an economy that works for everyone, and leaves no one to fall through the cracks.”

Pointing out Rouse’s accomplishments at Princeton and her qualifications for the CEA position, Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber observed in a November 30 blog post, “I cannot imagine a better choice for the role. Ceci Rouse is a distinguished economist and an outstanding dean for the School. For more than eight years she has led the School of Public and International Affairs with integrity and a steadfast commitment to scholarly excellence, diversity, and the free exchange of ideas. The School is stronger and better because of her contributions.”

He added, “I am proud that she has once again been called to serve our country, this time in one of its most important leadership roles.”

Joining the Princeton faculty in 1992 after earning her undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees in economics from Harvard University, Rouse has led the SPIA since 2012.

She is the Katzman-Ernst Professor in Economics and Education, professor of economics and public affairs, and the founding director of the Princeton Education Research Section. She is also a member of the National Academy of Education; a senior editor of The Future of Children, published by the SPIA and the Brookings Institution; and a member of the editorial board of the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Rouse is also on the boards of the Council of Foreign Relations, the University of Rhode Island, the Pennington School, and the National Bureau of Economic Research. She is an independent director of the T. Rowe Price Funds.

Among Rouse’s most noteworthy publications have been a study revealing sexism in hiring for symphony orchestras, where women were much more likely to be hired when auditions were “blind” with gender concealed; research on private school vouchers’ impact on school achievement; and the effects of student loan debt on career choices of college graduates.   

The Biden-Harris Transition website describes Rouse as “a renowned labor economist with expertise centered in the economics of education and equality” and “an accomplished leader who has held prominent roles across academia and government service.”