He is an Institute Professor at MIT and an elected fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Econometric Society, and the Society of Labor Economists. His academic work covers a wide range of areas, including political economy, economic development, economic growth, inequality, labor economics, and economics of networks. He has received numerous awards and prizes, including the Carnegie Fellowship in 2017, the Jean-Jacques Laffont Prize in 2018, and the Global Economy Prize in 2019. He was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal in 2005, the Erwin Plein Nemmers Prize in 2012, and the 2016 BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award.
He is the author of five books, including Why Nations Fail: Power, Prosperity, and Poverty and The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty (both with James A. Robinson).