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Health Economics

Health Economics is the study of how resources are allocated to and within the market for health care.  It combines the study of health as it relates to economics and the study of economics as it relates to health.  The Economics Department at UNC-CH joins only a handful who have a field in Health Economics and two professors who have main research interests in health.  A description of the faculty, the Health Economics field, our resources at UNC-CH, and our students is provided below.

UNC Faculty

John S. Akin, Ph.D., Austin H. Carr Professor of Economics and Adjunct Professor of Health Policy and Administration, has primary interests in health economics and health care finance, especially with respect to developing countries. He and his colleagues have done extensive analysis of demand for health services and health insurance in the developing countries of the world.

Donna Gilleskie, Associate Professor of Economics is a health economist whose research focuses on the health insurance and medical care utilization decisions of individuals and how these decisions impact health and employment issues.  She is also a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Dr. Gilleskie received teh Kenneth Arrow Award for the best published article worldwide on health economics in 1998.

Other Triangle Health Economists

Frank Sloan, Professor, Economics, Duke University

Frank Sloan is the J. Alexander McMahon Professor of Health Policy and Management and Professor of Economics at Duke University since 1993. He is also the Director of the Center for Health Policy, Law and Management at Duke that originated in 1998. His current research interests include alcohol use prevention, long-term care, medical malpractice, and cost-effectiveness analyses of medical technologies. Professor Sloan also has a long-standing interest in hospitals, health care financing, and health manpower.

Sally Stearns, Associate Professor, Health Policy and Administration, UNC

Edward Norton, Associate Professor, Health Policy and Administration, UNC

Will Dow, Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Administration, UNC

 Graduate Students

Lara Bryant

Susan Chen

Volker Grizmek

Jae-Young Lim

Peter Lance

Albert Loh

Recent Graduates


Name Current Employment Thesis Topic
Sarah Broome North Carolina Hospital Association Market Characteristics and Hospital Organizational Factors That Effect Hospital Nursing Quality
Paul Hutchinson Tulane University Estimating the Demand for Preventive Health Services: Controlling for Endogenous Public Sector Resource Allocations
Chris Trenholm Mathematica Medicaid and Birth Outcomes
Tom Xu Texas Technical University, 
Health Sciences Center
Cigarette Smoking and
Health Care Consumption
Alex Cowell Research Triangle Institute Smoking and Education
Jason Deitrich Office of the Controller of the Currency Consumption
Amber Jessup Food and Drug Administration Child Health and Mother's Labor Supply
Kristin Sandusky Bureau of the Census Preventive Behavior


Triangle Health Economics Workshop

About every two weeks we have a workshop with area health economists in which we discuss leading working papers in the field, call the authors on a speaker phone, or bring authors in for seminars.  UNC Economics students do not register for or receive credit for attending the seminar, but are stongly encouraged to attend and participate.  A description of the workshop can be found at:

Requirements of the Health Economics Field at UNC

If health is your major field:

    • you must complete  Econ 250 and Econ 255 and one additional course approved by Akin and Gilleskie
    • you must complete Econ 250 and Econ 255 before taking the preliminary field exam
    • passing the field exam and completing a third course meet the requirements for completion of the field as a major field

    If health is your minor field:

    • you must complete two courses in health economics approved by Akin and Gilleskie

Course Descriptions

ECON 250:  Health Economics

Major topics are: measurement and modeling of the demand for medical care, the demand for and supply of health insurance, and the incorporation of health, medical care, and health insurance in determining both short and long run labor supply.  Prerequisites: ECON 200 & 272, or permission.  Offered in Fall.

ECON 255:  Health Economics for Developing Countries

Major topics are: how health and development are related, the demand for health services, cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis, and methods for financing health care in developing, resource-constrained nations.  Prerequisites: ECON 200 & 272, or permission.  Offered in Spring.

ECON 375:  Seminar in Applied Microeconomics

This course offers advanced graduate students the opportunity to begin to develop independent research in applied microeconomic fields.  Prerequisites: permission from instructor.  May be offered Fall or Spring, depending on year and instructor.

Course Description of Class at Duke University

ECO 357:  Seminar in Health Economics

Conceptual and empirical analysis of demand for health, medical services, and insurance; decisions by physicians and hospitals about price, quantity, and quality of services; technological change; and structure and performance of the pharmaceutical industry.  Prerequisites: permission from Duke instructor.  Offered in Spring.

Other Resources

Department of Health Policy and Administration - Edward Norton, Will Dow, and Sally Stearns
Carolina Population Center
Curriculum in Public Policy
Institute for Research in Social Sciences (IRSS)
Triangle Health Economics Seminar