Faculty profiles

Members of the Economics Department

Clair Brown


Labor economics, management of technology
Current Status
Ph.D. University of Maryland, 1973
Research Interests
Innovation and creativity in high-tech industries; High-tech labor markets; Status consumption and income distribution; Employment, training and wage systems in US and Japanese firms; 20th century US standards of living.

About Clair Brown

Clair Brown, PhD, is Professor of Economics emerita and Director of the Center for Work, Technology and Society at the University of California, Berkeley. Brown has published research on many aspects of how economies function, including inequality, sustainability, high-tech industries, the standard of living, and wage determination,. Her books include American Standards of Living, and Chips and Change: How crisis reshapes the semiconductor industry. Her most recent book Buddhist Economics: An enlightened approach to the dismal science (Bloomsbury Press) provides an economic framework that integrates global sustainability, shared prosperity and care for the human spirit. Brown’s research team developed a Sustainable Share-prosperity Policy Index that evaluates 50 countries’ economic policies according to how well they protect the environment (sustainability), structure markets to achieve social goals (equity), and provide basic services and opportunities (wellbeing). One aspect of this work is the development of a measure of economic performance based on the quality of life, and to estimate it for state of California. The Genuine Progress Index (GPI) integrates measurements of inequality and environmental degradation as well as value of nonmarket activities and consumption to provide an inclusive measurement of sustainable economic performance to guide policy. At UCB Brown co-founded a new graduate program called Development Engineering, for students in engineering and economics to develop their multidisciplinary skills for designing, building, and evaluating new technologies to help developing or under-resourced regions.

You can listen to podcasts with Clair:  https://buddhisteconomics.net/podcasts/

Book trailer (2 min):  https://youtu.be/88RX5A2iezs

Brown’s economic approach is published in Eminent Economists II (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Clair Brown has also been actively involved in climate justice work or the past decade. Clair Brown volunteered and provided economic analysis and assisted with community advocacy for climate justice organizations, including 350 Bay Area, Fossil Free California, Sierra Club and Earth Justice. For five years Brown was the co-chair of the 350 Bay Area Action Legislative team, which educated and lobbied Legislators to pass effective and equitable climate policies and worked with state agencies to implement the climate laws to be inclusive and reduce the impact of GHG emissions on vulnerable communities.

Brown’s UC Berkeley student research team worked with Fossil Free California to evaluate the financial risk of state pension funds, especially CalPERS, investing in fossil fuel industry assets. They wrote several academic reports, commented at the CalPERS Board meetings, and worked with lawmakers to draft bills that mandated corporate reporting of their risks related to fossil fuel use, and required divestment of specific fossil fuel assets by the state public pension funds. Here is a recent report. https://fossilfreeca.org/promises-promises-evaluating-calpers-climate-engagements/

Brown in coordination with Prof. Julia Walsh, MD collaborated with the following Environmental and Climate Justice organizations to  produce critiques of transportation analyses and analyses of health and economic costs of oil and gas wells and PM2.5 in California.  These organizations include VISION, Center for Biological Diversity, EarthJustice, Center for Race Poverty and the Environment, Sierra Club, Communities for a Better Environment, California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), National Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility-SF, 350 Bay Area, and Fossil Free California. The CA state agencies to whom these memos were addressed included CalGEM, CARB, BAAQMD, CalEPA, OEHHA, as well as Legislators. Examples of these memos include: CalEPA memo Critique of UCSB Carbon Neutrality Study (Supply Side); CalGEM memo on setback ruling