Faculty Directors

Deputy Director


In an era of rising health care costs, an aging population, emerging global health threats, and evolving insurance markets and regulatory environments, the questions of how we provide and pay for health care—and improve health—are critical. The Becker Friedman Institute’s Health Economics Initiative aims to develop and support the advancement of fundamental economic research on such questions.

Medical and public health research are at the forefront of efforts to improve health care delivery and effectiveness. What sets this initiative apart is its primary focus on applying the tools of economic analysis to understand the basic forces—supply and demand, incentives, labor trends, and investments in human capital, for example—that influence health care policies and the systems in which they are implemented.

Data Assets

Medical claims data is at the core of much of health economics research. The Health Economics Initiative is building data assets to help lower the barriers to research in this area for faculty and students across the university.

In 2018, we made our first purchase of Medicare claims data. The data covers 2010-2016 and includes the MedPAR, outpatient, home health, and master beneficiary summary files for 100% of Medicare beneficiaries. We plan to add additional files and years to increase the value of this data asset.

The data is hosted in a secure environment provided by the Center for Research Informatics (CRI) together with additional resources and procedures developed by the MWG in collaboration with the Research Computing Group (RCG) within the Department of Public Health Sciences.

The contract is being finalized and the data will be transferred in the coming months. We will make an announcement when the data are available.

Research Grants for UChicago Scholars

In fall 2018, the Health Economics Initiative initiated a call for proposals to the full Chicago Economics community for innovative research ideas. We are excited to support cutting-edge research from health economists on campus through five new grants, and we look forward to seeing the fruits of their efforts. 

Rebecca Dizon-Ross, Assistant Professor of Economics, Booth School of Business
Proposed Project Title: Encouraging Abstinence Behavior in an Opioid Epidemic: Incentivizing Inputs and Outcomes

Harold Pollack, Helen Ross Professor at the School of Social Service Administration and Andrea Tentner, Senior Research Analyst, Crime Lab (UChicago Urban Labs)
Proposed Project Title: Predictive Analytic Models for 911 Events Involving Individuals Experiencing Behavioral Crisis

Devin Pope, Professor of Behavioral Science, Booth School of Business
Proposed Project Title: Medical Guidelines and Doctor Behavior

Burhaneddin Sandikci, Associate Professor of Operations Management, Booth School of Business
Proposed Project Title: Expanding the Donor Pool for Transplantation: Incentivizing the Use of Marginal Organs

Thomas Wollmann, Assistant Professor of Economics, Booth School of Business
Proposed Project Title: How to Get away with Merger: Stealth Consolidation and its Effects on US Healthcare 

Related Programs

This initiative supports two programs exploring distinct strands of health economics.

  • The Program on Foundational Research in Health Care Markets and Policies, launched in 2016 and directed by Casey Mulligan, will strengthen the field of health economics by investing in and supporting young scholars just entering the field through fellowships for emerging scholars at the dissertation and postdoctoral stage and opportunities to collaborate.
  •  A new Program on Economics of Health Care Delivery, led by David O. Meltzer, which will explore issues of costs and quality in health care provision.

Associated Scholars

Associated Working Papers

BFI Working Paper Jul 22, 2019

Testing the Validity of the Single Interrupted Time Series Design

Katherine Baicker, Theodore Svoronos
Topics:  Healthcare
BFI Working Paper May 17, 2019

Nonparametric Estimates of Demand in the California Health Insurance Exchange

Pietro Tebaldi, Alexander Torgovitsky, Hanbin Yang
Topics:  Healthcare
BFI Working Paper Mar 7, 2019

The Roots of Health Inequality and The Value of Intra-Family Expertise

Yiqun Chen, Petra Persson, Maria Polyakova