Specialisation: unemployment, wages, discrimination, immigrants, unionisation
Date of Passing: 27/11/2013
Paul W. Miller, 1955–2013: A Tribute by Harry Bloch (Curtin University of Technology), David Butler (Murdoch University), Barry Chiswick (George Washington University) and Rod Tyers (University of Western Australia)
Paul William Miller passed away on 27 November 2013 after a lengthy and courageous battle with cancer. Paul was exceptional among Australian economists, in that he established an international reputation while primarily doing empirical research on Australian economic issues. He was also exceptional in his service to the academic community, having been a head of department twice, co-editor and then editor of the Economic Record and member of the Australian Research Council’s College of Experts.
Paul was born in Dunedoo, NSW, on 30 December 1955 and received his schooling in rural NSW before attending the University of New England where he completed a Bachelor of Economics with Honours in 1977. He then completed Master of Economics and Doctor of Philosophy degrees at the Australian National University in 1978 and 1982 respectively. Bob Gregory super- vised his PhD thesis, Education, Employment and Earnings in the Australian Labour Market.
After completing his PhD, Paul had several years of international experience mixed with spells back at the ANU. He had a post-doctoral fellowship at ANU in 1982–1983 before joining the University of Western Ontario (Canada) as a visiting assistant professor for the 1983 and 1984 northern hemisphere academic years. He then returned briefly to ANU as a post-doc before taking up a Leverhulme Fellowship at Brunel (UK) for 1985 academic year. He was back at ANU as a visiting fellow for 12 months before joining UWA as a senior lecturer in July 1987. He was on leave from UWA for the 1989–1990 academic year at Queen’s University (Canada), before returning to Australia with an appointment as associate professor at the University of Queensland.
Perth had clearly gotten into Paul’s blood, as he came back to UWA as an associate professor in July 1991 and remained there for almost 20 years, being promoted to professor in 1996. He was Head of the Department of Economics from 1994 through 2001 and then Head of the newly formed School of Commerce and Economics from 2003 through 2005. From 2005 through early 2010 he was an Australian Research Council Professorial Fellow at UWA. He then joined Curtin University as professor of economics, a position he held until his death.
Paul’s interest in labour market performance, especially the labour market performance of immigrants, was sustained throughout his academic career and led to two very close intellectual and personal relationships. Barry Chiswick was an examiner of Paul’s thesis at ANU. When the opportunity arose for Paul to visit Barry at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1983, there began a research partnership that has produced over 60 journal articles and book chapters, two books and a monograph. Most of the research partnership was conducted at a distance or during short visits by Paul to Chicago or Barry to Perth, although Paul did spend the fall term of 1997 as a visiting professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. At the time of Paul’s death, Paul and Barry were in the advanced stages of editing the Handbook on the Economics of International Migration, which is to be published by Elsevier. Barry notes in his eulogy for Paul that, ‘As the years passed, Paul became not only a co-author and a good friend but more like a brother to me.’ The second close relationship arising from Paul’s interest in labour market economics was with Anh Tram Le. Paul supervised Tram’s PhD thesis at the University of Western Australia in the 1990s. The thesis dealt with self-employment in Australia, particularly focussing on the experience of immigrants. Paul and Tram found they had more in common than an interest in the economics, which created some difficulty especially as Paul was Head of the Department of Economics at the time. Paul’s scrupulous integrity led him to declare everything to the University. Tram has said, only half joking, that early on the Vice Chancellor knew more about their relationship than she herself did. Their partner- ship led to a book, some 20 articles and book chapters, and two wonderful children, Erin and Andrew, who will now sadly grow up without their father.
Paul published extensively with many other co- authors aside from Barry and Tram. His earliest co-author was Paul Volker with whom he published extensively during the 1980s, including four articles in the Economic Record and single articles in Economic Inquiry, Journal of Macro- economics and Journal of Human Resources. When Paul arrived at UWA, he started publishing with Charles Mulvey and continued to do so for a decade and a half. Their output includes again four articles in the Economic Record and over a dozen other publications, including a piece in the American Economic Review.
Paul’s most recent CV lists as single-authored or co-authored publications: 13 books, 171 refereed papers, 34 non-refereed papers and 11 reviews. Given Paul’s prodigious productivity, he probably lost track of some items, and there is work in process that will probably still appear in print, including the Handbook with Barry Chis- wick. Paul’s articles have appeared in the top journals in the fields of international migration, labour economics and education economics, as well as in top non-specialist journals, such as the American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy and Economic Journal. Most notably, Paul has been a steady contributor to Australian journals, especially the Economic Record and the Australian Journal of Labour Economics, but also the Australian Economic Review, Australian Economic Papers, Australian Journal of Social Issues and Australian Universities Review.
The impact of Paul’s research has been deep and broad. His page on Google Scholar lists almost 7000 citations of his research at the time of writing (probably more than 7000 by the time this is published) with an H-index of 43 (43 of his publications have been cited at least 43 times). The quality of his research has been recognised by two of the annual best paper awards from the Economic Record, first with Paul Volcker for their 1993 article, ‘Youth Wages, Risk and Tertiary Finance Arrangements’, and then with Leanne Neo for their 2003 article, ‘Labour Market Flexibility and Immigrant Adjustment’. His paper with Barry Chiswick, ‘Do Enclaves Matter in Immigrant Adjustment?’ was awarded the Milliken Institute Award for the best paper during 2000 in Regional and Demographic Studies. As Andrew Leigh, MP for Fraser, reflected in the Australian Parliamentary Hansard of Monday
2 December 2013 (p.164), ‘what an extraordinary contribution Paul made to fields in Australian economics that are not overpopulated with scholars. The economics of education and the economics of immigration are fields that have probably lost a tenth of their productive research capacity as a result of Paul’s passing.’
Paul gave generously of his time and effort to students and colleagues. He also served the broader academic community in editorial board roles for the Australian Journal of Labour Economics (from
1995), Applied Economics (associate editor, 2002 through 2004) and the National Centre for Vocational Educational Research (from 2010). His most time-consuming editorial involvement was with Economic Record (co-editor, 2002 through 2006; editor, 2006 through 2010; and editorial board from 2010). As editor, he implemented the use of the Manuscript Central platform for the submission and processing of papers under consideration for publication, which aided a substantial reduction in the time taken for editorial decisions. His service in these editorial roles was recognised by election as Honorary Fellow of the Economic Society of Australia in 2011 (see the News and Notices section of the December 2011 issue of the Economic Record for details).
In addition to his work for the Economic Record, Paul worked overtime as a journal referee and research grant assessor. He was a referee for some 50 academic journals. He didn’t keep careful count, but he thought that he was sending off at least a couple of reviews a month. Paul was also a reviewer of innumerable research funding applications for the Australian Research Council, other government bodies in Australia and granting agencies in several other countries. He was appointed to the ARC’s College of Experts in 2013.
Paul’s research productivity and service work has been widely recognised beyond the Honorary Fellow of the ESA. He was elected Fellow of the Academy of the Social Science in Australia in 1997, was listed in Who’s Who in Economics (edited by Mark Blaug and published by Edward Elgar) in 2003, was appointed to a research fellowship at IZA (Institute for the Study of Labor) in Bonn, Germany in 2004, received the Curtin Business School Researcher of the Year Award for 2010 and was inducted into the Australian National University College of Business and Economics’ Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame in 2010. No doubt more honours and recognition were on the way had Paul’s life not been tragically cut short.
A Tribute by Harry Bloch FASSA (Curtin University of Technology), David Butler (Murdoch University), Barry Chiswick (George Washington University) and Rod Tyers (University of Western Australia)
This obituary originally appeared in the publication in the March 2014 issue of the Economic Record.