Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Emily Oster

Emily Oster

Associate Professor of Economics
Associate Professor International and Public Affairs


Emily Oster is an associate 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 BA and her PhD 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 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 US has very high infant mortality rates relative to other developed countries – and diet behavior among diabetics.  


“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).


Econ 018D

Econ 2360

News|Recent News

The U.S. Is Failing in Infant Mortality, Starting at One Month Old (Emily Oster research cited)

June 8, 2016 The New York Times

In the New York Times, Emily Oster's research is cited, "recently published paper in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy adds to this discussion. Alice Chen, Emily Oster and Heidi Williams combined data from the United States with data from Finland, Austria, Belgium and Britain. As other studies have done before, they adjusted for differences in coding of very premature births. And as other studies found before, the United States has a significant infant mortality disadvantage. This study was different, however. It used microdata, or individual records of birth and death, as opposed to the aggregate data usually employed for cross-country comparisons."