Ross DeVol is the Chief Research Officer at the Milken Institute. He oversees research on international, national and comparative regional growth performance; technology and its impact on regional and national economies; access to capital and its role in economic growth and job creation; and health-related topics. He advises on global economic and financial conditions for Global Capital Markets Advisory Council (GCMAC), which is comprised of influential investors from around the world representing more than $18 trillion in assets under management.
Since joining the Institute, DeVol has put his group in the national limelight with groundbreaking research on technology and its impact on regional and national economies and the economic and human consequences of chronic disease. He is an expert on the new intangible economy and how regions can prepare themselves to compete in it. He examines the effects of technology, research and development activities, international trade, human capital and labor-force skills training, entrepreneurship, early-stage financing, and quality-of-place issues on the geographic distribution of economic activity. DeVol has authored numerous reports in the Institute’s primary research areas. Recent work involves research on global economic and financial markets.
DeVol is ranked among the "Super Stars" of Think Tank Scholars by International Economy magazine. He received the 2015 Robert Parry award, who served as president and chief executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. The Award is given to a member of L.A. NABE who has served on the Board and made contributions to the economics profession.
DeVol appears on national television and radio programs, including CNN's "Moneyline," "Wall Street Journal Report with Maria Bartiromo," Bloomberg, Fox Business News, CNBC and NPR's "Talk of the Nation." He is frequently quoted in print media, such as The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, Investor's Business Daily, Los Angeles Times, Forbes, The Economist, Time and others. He keynotes prominent conferences and has served on a variety of panels at similar events.
He was the lead author of “Best-Performing Cities Asia” report which provides a fact-based, comprehensive benchmarking system for evaluating established and global or emerging global metropolitan areas in the region. This study was released in September, 2014. With the establishment of the Milken Institute’s Asia Center in Singapore, it was decided that it would be useful to adapt one of the Milken Institute’s most recognized tools in the United States, the “Best Performing Cities index”, to provide an objective measurement of recent regional economic progress in Asia.
He authored “The Yen Sets, but Does the Sun Rise?: Abenomics and the Future of Japan”, a report card evaluating the likely impact of Abenomics, a set of economic policies introduced the Shinzo Abe-led government. It includes an investigation of how changing global and intra-Asian trade patterns and foreign direct investment (FDI) flows might affect the degree of impact that recent yen depreciation has on Japanese trade. The results suggest a lower sensitivity to depreciation than in the past, due, in part, to Japanese multinationals expanding capacity outside the country. Ultimately, the long-term success of Abenomics will be determined by “third arrow” structural forms being implemented.
In a research study that he designed and co-authored, “Healthy Savings: Medical Technology and the Economic Burden of Disease” researchers at the Milken Institute undertook a comprehensive, quantitative documentation of medical technology's impact on the economic burden of disease. The study also projects how future innovation in this sector would affect the health care system and the larger economy -- a positive benefit of more than $23 billion a year for the United States. These benefits are seen in both aggregate savings in treatment expenditures and prevention as well as the reduction of "indirect impact" through larger contributions to the economy. In “Checkup Time: Chronic Disease and Wellness in America”, a report he co-authored, which was an update to 2007’s “An Unhealthy America,” the actual economic burden associated with five out of seven diseases and shows that chronic diseases cost the nation even more in recent years than was forecast using historical trends. The leading driver: obesity.
He was the project manager of “Deriving the Economic Impact of Derivatives: Growth through Risk Management,” which charted the benefits to the wider economy from the use of financial derivatives and is a first-of-its-kind examination of derivatives' quantitative impact on economic growth. The Institute's statistical analysis demonstrates that the use of derivatives by banks allows for a larger volume of commercial and industrial loans, increasing business investment. It also confirms that investors assign higher valuations to non-financial firms that use derivative products - valuations that boost their willingness and ability to expand operations. The total increase in economic activity was 1.1 percent ($149.5 billion) between 2003 and 2012. DeVol was a co-author of “The Global Opportunity Index: Attracting Foreign Investment.” Foreign direct investment (FDI) has never been more important in catalyzing growth. It now accounts for 11 percent of global GDP and more than 80 million jobs worldwide. This study evaluates which countries are creating the best environments to capture these growth-fueling investments. Researchers ranked the attractiveness for investment of 98 countries. Sixty-seven variables were assessed across five broad categories: economic fundamentals, regulatory barriers, ease of doing business, regulatory quality, and the rule of law.
In “Is the New Year Too Happy? The Global Economic and Financial Markets Outlook,” DeVol undertook a wide-ranging analysis forecasting the performance and directions of the global economy in the year ahead and beyond. DeVol gauged the trends in GDP growth, capital markets and major industries along with the political forces that influence them. In detail, he discusses near-term risks but spotlights the constructive effects of eurozone breakup fears receding and a resumption of buoyant expansion in China. DeVol also examines the impact of U.S. fiscal and monetary policy and brings developments in emerging markets to the forefront.
He was the lead author of "A Matter of Degrees: The Effect of Educational Attainment on Regional Economic Prosperity," which demonstrated the high returns to investment in higher education and the research spillovers that universities facilitate. While it's intuitive that an educated population, good jobs, and prosperity go hand-in-hand, this study proves the strong relationship between education and a region's economic performance. Add one year of college to a region's workforce, for instance, and GDP per capita jumps 17.4 percent. The implications of "A Matter of Degrees" for policymakers, community leaders, and educators are extensive.
He co-authored “Estimating Long-Term Economic Returns of NIH Funding on Output in the Biosciences.” The benefit from every dollar invested by National Institutes of Health (NIH) outweighs the cost by many times. The long-term effects may be as high as $3.20 for every $1.00 spent. Thus, every NIH dollar that goes into the bioscience not only benefits crucial research, but the broader economy as well. In “Waistlines of the World: The Effect of Information and Communications Technology on Obesity,” a report he co-authored, established a direct connection between spikes in technology adoption and subsequent increases in obesity rates. The report charts the dramatic rise in obesity in 27 OECD countries.
In “Best Cities for Successful Aging,” a 2012 report which he co-authored, addresses the question of what metropolitan areas are best prepared to serve their aging populations? This data-driven index - the first of its kind - measures and ranks the performance of 359 U.S. metropolitan areas based on 78 indicators that determine the overall quality of life for aging adults.He was the principal author of “The Global Biomedical Industry: Preserving U.S. Leadership,” a study that showed that the United States is still the global leader in the biomedical industry, but countries across Europe and Asia are pursuing aggressive plans to close the gap and take the high-value jobs and capital this sector creates.
DeVol was the lead author of "Jobs for America: Investments and Policies for Economic Growth and Competitiveness," which tackles the central question of the day: How can the United States jumpstart and sustain job growth? The policy changes analyzed - decreasing U.S. corporate tax rates to match the OECD average, increasing and making permanent the R&D tax credit, and modernizing export controls on certain products - would spur significant economic growth in the medium- to long-term. The report demonstrates that more than 3.5 million jobs can be created in each of the next three years by supporting investment in 10 key infrastructure project categories.
He was the lead author in the “2010 State Technology and Science Index: Enduring Lessons for the Intangible Economy,” an index and report that he first developed in 2002. The State Technology and Science Index looks at 79 unique indicators that are categorized into five major components: Research and Development Inputs, Risk Capital and Entrepreneurial Infrastructure, Human Capital Investment, Technology and Science Workforce, and Technology Concentration and Dynamism. It is one of the most comprehensive examinations of state technology and science assets ever compiled. This annual index is well-received by policymakers, business executives and investors seeking to identify areas of strength and weakness to better target limited resources.
In 2010’s “From Recession to Recovery: Analyzing America's Return to Growth" he calls for modest but sustainable growth in GDP, consumer spending and jobs. According to DeVol, strong recovery in business investment in equipment, more robust exports, a more upbeat consumer and continued low interest rates will fuel the growing recovery. The full forecast includes projections for consumer and labor markets, housing and nonresidential construction, the federal deficit, state and local government purchases, and interest rates.
DeVol was also the lead author on "North America's High-Tech Economy: The Geography of Knowledge-Based Industries," which revised and extended the Institute's original work to include Canadian and Mexican metropolitan areas. It examined the locations and patterns of growth in 19 individual high-tech industry categories. This is believed to be the most detailed comparative assessment available for understanding North America's high-tech landscape.
In "The Greater Philadelphia Life Sciences Cluster 2009: An Economic and Comparative Assessment," he and his colleagues revised and extended the Institute's original 2005 analysis of the Greater Philadelphia life-sciences cluster relative to 10 other leading clusters in the United States. In the "State Technology and Science Index: Enduring Lessons for the Intangible Economy,"
He was the principal author of "An Unhealthy America: The Economic Burden of Chronic Disease," which brought to light for the first time what is often overlooked in the discussion of the impact of chronic disease - the economic losses associated with preventable illness and the cost to the nation's GDP and U.S. businesses in lost growth. The study is the first of its kind to estimate the avoidable costs if a serious effort were made to improve Americans' health.
Other research involves the study of biotechnology and other life-sciences clusters, and the impact these industries have on regional economies. He was the lead author of "Mind-to-Market: A Global Analysis of University Biotechnology Transfer and Commercialization," which was released in 2006. This study looked at the transfer and commercialization of university-developed intellectual property on a global basis, with particular focus on biotechnology.
DeVol was the lead author of "Biopharmaceutical Contributions to State and U.S. Economies," released in 2004 and documenting the large economic impact of the industry and analyzing which states are best positioned for future growth. In "America's Biotech and Life Science Clusters," he and his colleagues researched leading clusters and San Diego's position among them, and highlighted the key factors determining success. He co-authored "The Economic Contributions of Health Care to New England," which constituted the first detailed examination of the concentration, innovation capacities, growth, and economic-multiplier impacts of health care in that region. He authored the policy brief "America's Health-Care Economy" in 2003, providing the first comprehensive benchmarking of the nation's leading health-care clusters.
He completed a significant study in 1999, "America's High-Tech Economy: Growth, Development, and Risks for Metropolitan Areas," an examination of how clusters of high-tech industries across the country affect economic growth in those regions. It has been translated into Chinese and published in China. His "Best-Performing Cities: Where America's Jobs Are Created," published in 2004 and regularly updated since then, reveals which cities are creating jobs and economic opportunity and describes the factors determining long-term success. This is a continuation of research that was previously published annually by Forbes. He has authored studies examining how to harness the research and innovation capacity of a region to build high-tech clusters based on new technologies.
DeVol has authored numerous articles for the Institute’s highly regarded economic journal “The Milken Institute Review.” Additionally, he has written pieces for a variety of non-Institute publications.
Prior to joining the Institute, DeVol was senior vice president of Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates (acquired by IHS), where he supervised the firm's Regional Economic Services group. DeVol supervised the re-specification of WEFA’s regional econometric models and played an instrumental role in similar work on its U.S. Macro Model, originally developed by Nobel Laureate Lawrence Klein. He was the firm's chief spokesman on international trade. He appeared on national network broadcasts discussing the economy such as CBS with Dan Rather, ABC with Sam Donaldson and NBC with Tom Brokaw. He also served as the head of WEFA’s U.S. Long-Term Macro Service and authored special reports on behalf of the U.S. Macro Group.
DeVol was previously director of economic planning at CSX, where he was responsible for U.S. macroeconomic and industry analysis, and worked with former U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow. He was also an economist at Chase Econometrics and an economic analyst at Union Pacific.
He served from 1999 to 2014 as an appointee to the California State Controller’s Council of Economic Advisors. He was appointed to the California State Treasurer’s Council of Economic Advisors in 2015. He advised members of the U.S. Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction “Supercommittee” on corporate tax reform in 2011. He is the past president of the Los Angeles NABE chapter.
DeVol earned his master's degree in economics at Ohio University and received advanced professional development training in economics held at Carnegie Mellon University. He is married and has two teenagers and has resided in California for over eighteen years.