Nicole Maestas Awarded NBER Retirement and Disability Research Center

October 16, 2018

Associate professor of health care policy Nicole Maestas, PhD, will direct the newly awarded Retirement and Disability Research Center (RDRC) at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). The RDRC is one of four national centers funded by the U.S. Social Security Administration. The other centers are at Boston College, University of Michigan, and University of Wisconsin.

The Retirement and Disability Research Center aims to conduct research that will contribute to the scientific basis for evidence-based retirement and disability policy design. RDRC researchers come from universities around the country and abroad, and in the coming year alone, will conduct over 24 major research projects. Among these researchers are department of health care policy’s Margaret T. Morris Professor of Health Economics Richard Frank, PhD, and assistant professor of health care policy, Timothy Layton, PhD. Courtney Colie, PhD, professor of Economics at Wellesley College and Jeffry Brown, PhD, Dean and Josef and Margot Lakonishok Professor of Business of University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign will act as associate directors of the RDRC.

Prior to the award, Maestas directed the NBER Disability Research Center, which joined forces with the NBER Retirement Research Center for the five-year competitive renewal of the Centers. The Disability Research Center aimed to inform discussions on disability policy reform by providing a more comprehensive understanding of the health and economic implications of disability and disability policy. They conducted research on a wide array of topics related to Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs, as well as other disability policies. The Center focused on demography and health, disability, and work, and program interactions and administrative issues. The original Disability Research and Retirement Centers were founded by David Wise, professor emeritus at the Harvard Kennedy School, who has since retired from administrative service at NBER.

Maestas has been affiliated with the NBER for several years and is a NBER Research Associate. Her research in disability economics has shown how the federal disability insurance system discourages employment of people with disabilities and that the work capacity of disability insurance beneficiaries with less severe disabilities is substantial. Her recent work on retirement has demonstrated significant shifts in labor supply patterns at older ages, the presence of substantial gains from working longer for married women but not married men, and differences in the incidence of and preferences for job amenities by age. Maestas’ well-known work on the labor market effects of disability insurance and the employment of older workers positions her to help shape the direction of retirement and disability research over the coming years.