John Cawley


John Cawley

2312 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall
Phone: 607-255-0952
View Cornell University Contact Info
Curriculum Vitae
Biographical Statement:

John Cawley is a Professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management, and the Department of Economics, at Cornell University. He is co-Director of Cornell's Institute on Health Economics, Health Behaviors and Disparities.

In addition to his affiliation with Cornell, John is a Visiting Professor at the School of Economics of the University of Sydney, Australia, an Honorary Professor at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at the National University of Ireland, Galway, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and a Research Fellow of the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). He was a member of the Institute of Medicine Committee "Prevention of Obesity in Children and Youth" and has served on advisory boards and expert panels for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government agencies.

For his research on the economics of obesity, John has received the Investigator Award in Health Policy Research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the John D. Thompson Prize for Young Investigators from the Association of University Programs in Health Administration, and the Charles C. Shepard Science Award in Prevention and Control from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. John is also the recipient of the Kappa Omicron Nu / Human Ecology Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Advising of students at Cornell.

Prior to arriving at Cornell, John was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan from 1999-2001. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago and his undergraduate degree in economics from Harvard University.

Current Research Activities:

Click here to download a summary of John's research on the economics of obesity in the NBER Reporter (2013).
Click here to download a PowerPoint summary of John's research on the economics of obesity.

John's primary field of research is health economics, with a focus on the economics of obesity. He studies the economic causes of obesity, the economic consequences of obesity, and economic approaches to obesity treatment and prevention.  Examples of research projects include: the effects of food advertising on diet and of income on weight; the impact of obesity on labor market outcomes such as wages; the effect of physical education on youths; and the effectiveness of financial rewards for weight loss.

His research has been published in general-interest economics journals (American Economic Review, Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of Economic Perspectives) as well as journals in health economics (Journal of Health Economics, Health Economics), labor economics (Journal of Human Resources, Labour Economics), and public policy (Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Health Affairs).

John serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Health Economics and Health Economics, is on the editorial board of the American Journal of Health Economics, and is the former co-editor-in-chief of Economics and Human Biology.

His research has been supported by grants from the following sources: the National Institutes of Health; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; the Economic Research Initiative on the Uninsured; the IBM Center for the Business of Government; the Merck Foundation Center on Consumers, Pharmaceutical Policy, and Health; the University of Michigan Retirement Research Consortium; the U. S. Department of Agriculture; the Institute for the Social Sciences and the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center at Cornell University; and J. P. Morgan Private Bank Global Philanthropic Services.

John's research has been widely covered in the media, including stories in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, The Economist, Business Week, Forbes, Scientific American, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.


Ph.D. 1999 - University of Chicago, Economics
M.A. 1998 - University of Chicago, Economics
A.B. 1993 - Harvard University, Economics

Courses Taught:

PAM/ECON 6410: Health Economics I
PAM 4280/ECON 3710: The Economics of Risky Health Behaviors
PAM 6370: Microeconomics for Policy Analysis
PAM 2000: Intermediate Microeconomics

Related Websites:

IDEAS/REPEC Economist profile
ISI Web of Science Researcher ID profile
Google Scholar profile
Institute for Health Economics, Health Behaviors and Disparities
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Publications
Editor, The [Oxford] Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity
A Guide and Advice for Economists on the U.S. Junior Academic Job Market
Twitter account: @cawley_john

Administrative Responsibilities:

Administrative Responsibilities Internal to Cornell:
Co-Director, Institute on Health Economics, Health Behaviors and Disparities
Chair, Academic Integrity Hearing Board, College of Human Ecology
Academic Integrity Hearing Board, Graduate School of Cornell University
Governance Committee, Department of Policy Analysis and Management
Cornell University Committee on Financial Policies
Cornell University Sesquicentennial Celebrations Social Science Subcommittee
Executive Committee, Cornell Population Center
Grievance Committee, College of Human Ecology

Administrative Responsibilities External to Cornell:
Associate Editor, Journal of Health Economics
Associate Editor, Health Economics
Editorial Board, American Journal of Health Economics
Editorial Board, Economics & Human Biology
Editorial Board, Encyclopaedia of Health Economics
External Scientific Panel, National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR)
Board of Directors, American Society of Health Economists (ASHEcon)
Secretary, American Society of Health Economists (ASHEcon)
National Advisory Committee, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholars in Health Policy Research
Scientific Advisory Board of the Behaviour and Health Research Unit, Cambridge University
Selection Committee for the Kenneth J. Arrow Award, International Health Economics Association (IHEA)

Selected Publications:

Cawley, John, Davide Dragone, and Stephanie von Hinke Kessler Scholder. “The Demand for Cigarettes as Derived from the Demand for Weight Control.” Forthcoming, Health Economics.

Cawley, John, Asako S. Moriya, and Kosali Simon. "The Impact of the Macroeconomy on Health Insurance Coverage: Evidence from the Great Recession." Forthcoming, Health Economics.

Cawley, John. "The Affordable Care Act Permits Greater Financial Rewards for Weight Loss: A Good Idea in Principle But Many Practical Concerns Remain." Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 2014, 33(3): 810-820.

Cawley, John. "Incentives for Wellness: Tackling Issues of Effectiveness, Biology, Scope, and Cost Shifting." Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 2014, 33(3): 826-832.

Cawley, John, and Joshua A. Price.  “A Case Study of a Workplace Wellness Program That Offers Financial Incentives for Weight Loss.”  Journal of Health Economics, 2013, 32(5): 794-803.

Cawley, John, David Frisvold, and Chad Meyerhoefer. “The Impact of Physical Education on Obesity among Elementary School Children.” Journal of Health Economics, 2013, 32(4): 743-755.

Cawley, John, and Johanna Catherine Maclean. “Unfit for Service: The Implications of Rising Obesity for U.S. Military Recruitment.” Health Economics, 2012, 21(11): 1348-1366.

Cawley, John and Chad Meyerhoefer. "The Medical Care Costs of Obesity: An Instrumental Variables Approach." Journal of Health Economics, 2012, 31(1): 219-230.

Cawley, John, and Christopher J. Ruhm. “The Economics of Risky Health Behaviors.” Chapter 3 in: Thomas G. McGuire, Mark V. Pauly, and Pedro Pita Barros (editors), Handbook of Health Economics, Volume 2. (Elsevier: New York). pp. 95-199.  2012.

Cawley, John, Euna Han, and Edward C. Norton. "The Validity of Genes Related to Neurotransmitters as Instrumental Variables." Health Economics, 2011, 20(8): 884-888.

Cawley, John (editor). The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity, (Oxford University Press: New York, NY). 2011.

Cawley, John, John Moran, and Kosali Simon. "The Impact of Income on the Weight of Elderly Americans." Health Economics, 2010, 19(8): 979-993.

Coles, Peter, John Cawley, Phillip B. Levine, Muriel Niederle, Alvin E. Roth, and John J. Siegfried. "The Job Market for New Economists: A Market Design Perspective." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2010, 24(4): 187-206.

Burkhauser, Richard V., and John Cawley. "Beyond BMI: The Value of More Accurate Measures of Fatness and Obesity in Social Science Research." Journal of Health Economics, 2008, 27(2): 519-529.

Morrisey, Michael A., and John Cawley. "U.S. Health Economists: Who We Are and What We Do." Health Economics, 2008, 17(4): 535-543.

Cawley, John, Chad Meyerhoefer, and David Newhouse. "The Impact of State Physical Education Requirements on Youth Physical Activity and Overweight." Health Economics, 2007, 16(12): 1287-1301.

Cawley, John, and Michael A. Morrisey. "The Earnings of U.S. Health Economists." Journal of Health Economics, 2007, 26(2): 358-372.

Cawley, John, David Grabowski, and Richard Hirth. "Factor Substitution in Nursing Homes." Journal of Health Economics, 2006, 25(2): 234-247.

Cawley, John, Michael Chernew, and Catherine McLaughlin. "HMO Participation in Medicare Managed Care." Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, 2005, 14(3): 543-574.

Cawley, John, and Sheldon Danziger. "Morbid Obesity and the Transition From Welfare to Work." Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 2005, 24(4): 727-743.

Cawley, John, and Kosali I. Simon. "Health Insurance Coverage and the Macroeconomy." Journal of Health Economics, 2005, 24(2): 299-315.

Cawley, John. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages." Journal of Human Resources, 2004, 39(2): 451-474.

Cawley, John, Sara Markowitz, and John Tauras. "Lighting Up and Slimming Down: The Effects of Body Weight and Cigarette Prices on Adolescent Smoking Initiation." Journal of Health Economics, 2004, 23(2): 293-311.

Searchable Keywords:
economics, health economics, health policy, public policy, health behaviors, risky behaviors, obesity

The information on this bio page is taken from the CHE Annual Report.