Brian Wheaton’s research encompasses political economy, cultural economics and macroeconomics. He analyzes empirical data in order to answer policy-relevant, real-world political and economic questions. His work on political economy and cultural economics focuses on the important role culture plays in shaping material economic and political outcomes. His work on macroeconomics examines how various forms of government intervention and regulation shape the macroeconomy.
Wheaton’s most recent work focuses on the effects of laws on beliefs held by the public. He modeled his study using a dynamic difference-in-differences identification strategy, and his findings indicate that virtually every major U.S. social policy law — both liberal and conservative — of the past half-century has induced significant backlash. “Individuals move in the opposite direction of the law in an attempt to preserve the values that are important to them and are placed under threat by the law,” Wheaton says. “For instance, the state Equal Rights Amendments of the 1970s aimed to legislate gender equality. But I find robust evidence that ERA passage leads to a sharp backlash, particularly among men, who exhibit sharply more negative attitudes toward male/female equality. I also find that backlash is passed on to the next generation and it endures more strongly in ideologically homogeneous communities.”
Some of Wheaton’s other projects explore the effects of school corporal punishment on long-run cultural and economic outcomes, the role of motivated reasoning in political polarization and how it can be minimized, the macroeconomic effects of the Eastern European flat-tax reforms, and the implications of the minimum wage for monetary policy efficacy.
In 2021, Wheaton was a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He formally joined the UCLA Anderson School of Management faculty as an assistant professor in 2022.
Ph.D. Political Economy and Government, 2021, Harvard University
M.A. Political Economy and Government, 2018, Harvard University
B.A. Economics (Highest Honors), 2013, University of California, Berkeley
A.A. Liberal Arts, 2011, College of Marin