As an applied econometrician Michael Robinson uses economic analysis to answer questions about the world. Often the answers are useful for important policy applications (Does trade liberalization lead to faster growth in worker wages?), but sometimes the answers are most relevant to a very small audience (How many journal articles are published by the members of economics departments at liberal arts colleges?).
The author of many articles, book chapters, and reviews, Robinson is primarily interested in labor economics. Much of his research has centered on wages and income, with a focus on the economics of discrimination. Robinson has examined gender and race discrimination in the pay of economics and business faculty and also discrimination against African American and Latin American players in Baseball Hall of Fame balloting.
Robinson has studied artists' earnings and work conditions and recently published a paper using data from a survey of Five College Dance Department alumni ("What Becomes of Undergraduate Dance Majors" with Sarah S. Montgomery, Journal of Cultural Economics,2003).
Robinson's interest in the economics of higher education began while the College was discussing its financial situation in the early 1990s. He noted that college revenues, like the revenues of many industries, followed the business cycle. Since then he has worked closely with admissions doing econometric modeling and special studies and has also served as senior adviser to the president on enrollment planning. Most recently, Robinson has been actively engaged in a study of Mount Holyoke's new SAT-optional policy ("Making SAT Scores Optional at a Selective College," with James Monks, presented in 2002 at the NBER Education Program Meeting).
Robinson teaches Microeconomic Principles, Microeconomics, and Econometrics.