Homepage for W. Bentley MacLeod


W. Bentley MacLeod is Sami Mnaymneh Professor of Economics, Professor of International and Public Affairs, and an affiliated Law Faculty at Columbia University in the City of New York. He is a specialist in law, labor and contract economics, with a focus on how incentives are designed to take into account the complex interplay between reputation effects, market competition, and social norms. Current projects include incentives and school choice, the economics of contract and tort law, the economics of performance pay, and the economics of physician diagnostic choice.

His recent publications include "The Big Sort: College Reputation and Labor Market Outcomes, joint with Evan Riehl, Juan Saavedrea and Miguel Urquiola, American Economics Journal: Applied Economics, 2017, Diagnosis and Unnecessary Procedure Use: Evidence from C-sections, with J. Currie, Journal of Labor Economics, 2017, Human Capital: The missing link between behavior and rational choice, Labour Economics, 2016, "Reputation and School Choice," American Economic Review, 2015, (with M. Urquiola); “Institutions and Contract Enforcement,” Journal of Labor Economics, 2015 (with A. Falk and D. Huffman); “Optimal Contracting in the Shadow of the Law,” Rand Journal of Economics, 2009 (with S. Chakravarty); “Performance Pay and Wage Inequality”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2009 (joint with T. Lemieux and D. Parent); “First Do Not Harm: Tort Reform and Birth Outcomes”, Quarterly Journal of Economics (2008) (with J. Currie); “Reputations, Relationships and Contract Enforcement”, Journal of Economics Literature (2007); and "Optimal Contracting with Subjective Evaluation," American Economic Review (2003).

Bentley is the President of the Society of Institutional and Organizational Economics. He is the recipient of the 2002 H. Gregg Lewis prize awarded by the Society of Labor Economists for his article "Worker Cooperation and the Ratchet" with H. Lorne Carmichael and is a fellow of the Econometric Society since 2005. Fellow of the Society of Labor Economists since 2012. His teaching career begun with a two year stint teaching mathematics and physics at Okundi Secondary School in Nigeria, an experience that led to his interest in economics in order to understand the large variations national economic performance. After completing his PhD in economics, he has taught at Queen's University, Université de Montréal, Boston College, University of Southern California, California Institute of Technology and Princeton University, before coming to Columbia University. He has held one year visiting positions at CORE, Belgium, IAE, Barcelona, Russell Sage Foundation, New York and The Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, NJ.

Bentley holds a B.A. (with distinction) and an M.Sc. in mathematics from Queen's University, Kingston, Canada and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. He is married to Janet Currie, and has four (perfect!) children - Raisa, Gabriella,River and Ben.