Emily Oster

JJE Goldman Sachs University Professor in Economics
Areas of Expertise Children & Families, Gender, Health & Welfare, Inequality & Poverty, Political Economy
Areas of Interest Health economics, development economics


Emily Oster is a professor of economics. Prior to coming to Brown she was an associate professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She is affiliated with the National Bureau of Economic Research.  She earned her B.A. and her Ph.D. from Harvard, in 2002 and 2006, respectively.


Emily Oster’s research focuses on health and development economics. Her past work has covered issues of HIV and gender equality in health and survival.  Her current work focuses on how individuals seek out, and react to, health information.  She has several recent papers on Huntington's Disease, a degenerative neurological disorder. In this context, she explores health information-seeking and asks why individuals in the at-risk population seem resistant to informative genetic information about this disease. She uses a similar population to test whether knowledge of limited life expectancy affects incentives to invest in education and job training.

Oster’s current work covers infant mortality – exploring why the U.S. has very high infant mortality rates relative to other developed countries – and diet behavior among diabetics.  


"Weighting for External Validity" (with Isaiah Andrews). The National Bureau of Economic Research. (September 2017). doi: 10.3386/w23826

“Approaches and Costs for Sharing Clinical Research Data” (with Erin Wilhelm and Ira Shoulson). JAMA (Viewpoint, Feb 20, 2014). 

“Limited Life Expectancy, Human Capital and Health Investments” (with E. Ray Dorsey and Ira Shoulson). American Economic Review, 103 (5): p. 1977-2002 (August 2013).

“Optimal Expectations and Limited Medical Testing: Evidence from Huntington's Disease” (with E. Ray Dorsey and Ira Shoulson). American Economic Review, 103 (2): p. 804-830 (April 2013).

“Do IT Service Centers Promote School Enrollment? Evidence from India” (with Bryce Millett). Journal of Development Economics, 104: 123-135 (September 2013).

“Knowledge of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act among individuals affected by Huntington disease” (with E. Ray Dorsey et al.). Clinical Genetics, 84: p. 251-257 (September 2013).

“Determinants of Technology Adoption: Private Value and Peer Effects in Menstrual Cup Take-Up” (with Rebecca Thornton). Journal of the European Economic Association, 10(6): p.1263-1293 (December, 2012).

“Routes of Infection: Exports and HIV Incidence in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Journal of the European Economic Association, 10(5): p. 1025–1058 (October 2012).


MPA 2460 Economics for Public Policy

Econ 018D

Econ 2360

Recent News

The Wall Street Journal

Your Marriage Needs a CFO and a COO (comments by Emily Oster)

In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Emily Oster provided commentary on domestic labor division and how specialization is the key to getting things done efficiently in any setting - including a marriage.
Read Article
Emily Oster discusses even distribution of labor within the home for the Wall Street Journal, "Although that income parity has arrived to a greater extent than it has in the past, time parity in terms of household work has not caught up."
Read Article
Emily Oster comments for Fortune, "When you make a choice about returning to labor force or not, it's actually a big enough decision financially, that it's one where you should really dive in."
Read Article