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Areas of Specialty

The PAM PhD program offers four areas of specialty: Education Policy, Family/Social Welfare Policy, Health Policy and Regulatory Policy. Each is described below.

Economics of Education

Research topics in the economics of education span many issues at the intersection of labor economics and public finance. Students are trained in appropriate microeconomic theory and empirical techniques used in education research, and learn about educational institutions and policy issues at the K12 and higher education levels in both the United States and abroad. Topics include: 

  • Economic returns to general schooling, as well as to school quality 
  • The role of financial constraints in student educational investment decisions 
  • The effect of government resources on educational outcomes 
  • Identification of educational production functions (which includes the role of teacher quality, school organizations and class sizes on student achievement) 
  • Teacher labor markets and the effects of market-based interventions, such as merit pay and charter schools, on academic outcomes.
Family/Social Welfare Policy

This topic areas studies policy-relevant family and social issues such as:  

  • The diversity of family living arrangements (patterns of marriage, single-parenthood, cohabitation and the like) 
  • Poverty and public policy 
  • Family-based factors influencing and resulting from employment 
  • Immigration and public policy 
  • Crime and public policy
  • Public policy and child well-being
Health Policy

In the health policy concentration we study the economics of: 

  • Risky health behaviors (e.g., cigarette smoking, obesity) and related policies
  • Consumers' response to health information and advertising 
  • Health insurance markets, both public (Medicare, Medicaid) and private, including regulation, consequences of coverage, and trends in managed care 
  • Pharmaceutical policy 
  • Education of physicians and medical labor markets 
  • Welfare effects (benefits and costs) of new medical technologies
Regulatory Policy

This topic area focuses on the impact of the social, legal, regulatory and economic environment on consumer and producer behavior. Specific topics include: 

  • The effects of government intervention in industry and its impact on consumers  
  • The effects of government policies towards the corporation 
  • The effects of law on consumer well-being 
  • The regulation of market information 
  • The regulation of product quality 
  • The role of mass media and consumer choice 
  • The determinants of consumer behavior