Cohen holds the B.A. from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the M.A and Ph.D. from SUNY at Stony Brook.
He is known for his research on international migration, social stratification and labor markets. He has studies earnings assimilation of immigrants in Israel, Germany, and the United States, socioeconomic ethnic and gender gaps in Israel, Israeli income inequality in Israel, and the industrial relations in Israel.
Cohen’s appointment to the Yerushalmi chair was controversial because he has been a critic of Israeli policy  and because the search committee included two prominent critics of Israel. He is described by The Forward as leaning "leftward on Israeli politics." 
- ”W woman’s Work is Never Done,” [ ELANA SZTOKMAN , THE JERUSALEM POST, Nov. 20, 2006 http://fr.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1162378443401&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter ]
- New Columbia Israel Director Denounced 'Occupation' - February 28, 2008 - The New York Sun
- Search Committee for Israel Scholar Includes Two Harsh Critics of Israel - April 29, 2005 - The New York Sun
- Scholar of Yiddish Named To Lead Columbia Institute - March 10, 2008 - The New York Sun
- Head of Columbia Jewish Studies Program Resigns - Forward.com"