Portrait image for Brian Wheaton

Brian Wheaton

Assistant Professor of Global Economics and Management
“Human interaction is at the center of every economic relationship and every business transaction. And all human interactions are governed by both the spoken rules of institutions and the unspoken rules of culture.”
Areas of Expertise:
  • Cultural Economics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Political Economy
  • Public Economics


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


Taxes, Incorporation, and Productivity (with Robert Barro), Tax Policy and the Economy, Vol. 34 (2022)

Working Papers

Political Economy

Are Preconceptions Postconceptions? Evidence on Motivated Political Reasoning (with Matthew Lilley)

Current Version: February 2024

Erroneous Beliefs and Political Approval: Evidence from the Coronavirus Pandemic (with Matthew Lilley)
Current Version: February 2023

Laws, Beliefs, and Backlash
Current Version: June 2022

External Threat, Polarization, and Legislative Efficacy: Evidence from the Cold War
Current Version: June 2022

Secularization and the Tribulations of the American Working-Class
Current Version: August 2021

Macroeconomics/ Labor Economics

Delayed Inflation in Supply Chains: Theory and Evidence (with Robert Minton)
Current Version: December 2023

The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Progressivity: Evidence from the Eastern European Flat Tax Reforms
Current Version: February 2023

Minimum Wages and Internal Migration (with Robert Minton)
Current Version: September 2022

Minimum Wages and the Rigid-Wage Channel of Monetary Policy (with Robert Minton)
Current Version: June 2022

Work in Progress

The Long-Run Effects of Corporal Punishment in Schools (with Maria Petrova and Gautam Rao)

Difference-in-Differences with Spillovers: The Effects of Minimum Wage Increases on Prices in Other States (with Robert Minton)