Jason M. Ward

Photo of Jason Ward
Associate Economist; Associate Director, RAND Center for Housing and Homelessness in Los Angeles; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in economics, University of Illinois; M.A. in economics, University of Illinois; B.A. in economics, University of Illinois


Jason Ward is an associate economist at the RAND Corporation, associate director of the RAND Center for Housing and Homelessness in Los Angeles, and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. His work uses the tools of applied microeconomics to study housing, labor markets, education, health, and links between these domains. His research has assessed the effect of four-day school weeks on parental employment and child achievement, the effect of parental involvement laws on abortions to minors, the effects of performance-based state higher education funding systems on student outcomes, the nature of geographic variation in health care utilization, and the association between education and health over the life course. Current projects include a study assessing the potential for the adaptive reuse of commercial real estate to address the housing crisis in Los Angeles, a study documenting changes in the populations of individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness in three Los Angeles neighborhoods, a study estimating the willingness to pay (in home price) for multiple measures of elementary school quality in the Los Angeles Unified School District and a study documenting changes in veterans educational outcomes across recent decades. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Illinois.


  • A tent on the sidewalk next to newly constructed apartment buildings in downtown Los Angeles, California, January 22, 2020, photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    How Can Commercial Buildings Become Needed Housing?

    Adaptive reuse has tremendous promise for making a dent in Southern California's housing shortage, but realizing its full potential will require thoughtful and timely policymaking.

    Jun 6, 2022 Santa Monica Daily Press

  • A tiny home village in Los Angeles, California, March 18, 2021, photo by Ted Soqui/Sipa USA via Reuters

    Camping Bans and Group Shelters Unlikely to Solve Homelessness Crisis

    Should Los Angeles continue to direct most resources toward creating permanent housing with services? Or should it try to rapidly add more group shelters and shared tiny homes which would allow the city to enforce camping bans in certain areas? There are compelling arguments for both approaches.

    May 23, 2022 Santa Monica Daily Press

  • Apartment buildings under construction in Carlsbad, California, May 24, 2017, photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    California Needs 1.2 Million New Homes. How Will It Get There?

    Voluntary incentives foster increased production of affordable housing, while mandates alone increase the cost of producing housing, dampening both market-rate and affordable housing production. It is well past time to acknowledge the evidence and focus on the adoption of voluntary programs that incentivize the rapid creation of dense, infill housing available at both affordable and market rents.

    May 13, 2022 CalMatters

  • A worker sits on the back of a delivery truck during a snow storm in Boston, Massachusetts, December 17, 2020, photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    Teleworking During the COVID-19 Pandemic Highlights Educational Inequity

    The ability to telework is associated with both reduced risk of COVID-19 infection and with significantly lower risk of job loss. There are large disparities in who is able to telework by race and ethnicity—but even larger ones by educational attainment.

    Dec 23, 2020 The RAND Blog

  • Woman working at home on a laptop with cat on the desk, photo by Drazen_/Getty Images

    The Lopsided Telework Revolution

    The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a transition to telework, protecting the jobs and the health of those whose work can be performed remotely. Creative policies in a post-pandemic world are needed to help more broadly distribute the benefits of increased remote work.

    Nov 16, 2020 Route Fifty

  • Universal Studios and CityWalk are closed due to COVID-19 concerns in Hollywood, California, May 14, 2020, photo by Ted Soqui/Reuters

    Industry Mix in L.A. Area Helps Explain Recent Record Unemployment Rates

    The Los Angeles Combined Statistical Area reported more than 270,000 job cuts between March and early August. Considering which industries have cut jobs may provide a window into the area's unique labor market and help explain how the area currently has among the highest unemployment in the nation.

    Aug 25, 2020 The RAND Blog

  • People socially distance as they protest in support of laid-off hotel workers without health care amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in Los Angeles, California, July 23, 2020, photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    L.A. Has the Nation's Highest Unemployment. For Some Groups, It's Even Worse Than That.

    Los Angeles and its neighboring counties are among the areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 recession. The shockingly high average unemployment rates only tell part of the story, however. For the poor and some racial and ethnic groups, the jobs picture is far worse.

    Aug 6, 2020 The RAND Blog

  • A construction worker on a building site in downtown Los Angeles, California, March 10, 2015, photo  by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    Declining Commercial Real Estate Demand May Provide an Opportunity to Help Address California's Housing Crisis

    The pandemic has led to an estimated 175,000 business closures this spring. And an estimated 40 percent of employed people are working from home full-time. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reallocate portions of the built environment toward the urgent demand for affordable housing.

    Jul 20, 2020 CalMatters

  • Manager Flory Ramirez waits for customers as restaurants are reopened following the lifting of some restrictions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Houston, Texas, May 1, 2020, photo by Go Nakamura/Reuters

    To Preserve Jobs, America's Employers May Have to Get Creative

    With about 38.6 million Americans filing for unemployment insurance benefits since the end of February, it is clear that COVID-19 has turned the world of work upside down. One way to reduce the economic damage may be job-sharing, an approach that focuses on maximizing jobs by reducing workers' hours rather than resorting to layoffs or furloughs.

    May 26, 2020 CNN

  • Protesters calling for rent payments to be canceled amid the outbreak of COVID-19, in Washington, D.C., April 25, 2020, photo by Erin Scott/Reuters

    From Lockdown to Locked Out: Coronavirus and the Looming Crisis in Rental Housing

    Housing security is vital to individual and collective well-being. It's also a key component in the nation's economic performance. The looming coronavirus eviction crisis suggests the need to address the systemic problem of housing affordability and security now.

    Apr 30, 2020 Dallas Morning News