Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Emily Oster

Royce Family Professor of Teaching Excellence and Professor of 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 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.  


"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

News|Recent News

Danielle Brooks On What to Eat When You're Pregnant (interview with Emily Oster)

November 27, 2019 Netflix Family

Emily Oster, professor of teaching excellence, economics, and international and public affairs — and author of "Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting" — spoke with "Orange is the New Black" actress Danielle Brooks in this Netflix Family series debunking common myths and misconceptions about pregnancy and childbirth. 


4 reasons not to freak out about the latest scary screen time study (comments by Emily Oster)

November 7, 2019 Mashable

Emily Oster in Mashable, "There’s this fetishization around this type of brain science where just the idea that we can see inside people’s brains and what’s happening in there is awesome, and we must be learning something really important...But whether it’s screen time that causes those differences in the brain, or other features of the family, is really not something this study can disentangle."


A woman looks out a window

What to Expect When You Have a Miscarriage (written by Emily Oster)

July 18, 2019 Medium

Professor Emily Oster in Medium's Elemental, "Miscarriage can be lonely, it can be devastating, and it can be confusing. Reassuringly, most women who miscarry go on to have healthy pregnancies. This can be hard to see when miscarriage is kept so secret, but if this happens, you are not alone."


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