Department of Economics

The American University Department of Economics supports a pluralist approach to economics that embraces mainstream and heterodox perspectives and emphasizes policy applications. We believe that theoretical understanding, empirical investigation, and policy analysis are enriched by study of the evolution of economic ideas and economic institutions.

Our mission is to provide undergraduate and graduate education, and faculty research, that enrich economic analysis and policy by implementing pluralist analytical approaches grounded in historical and empirical context. Offering graduate and undergraduate degrees, minors, and certificates in a heterodox atmosphere in addition to the Program on Gender Analysis and Info-Metrics Institute


Recent Publications

Blecker, Robert, Michael Cauvel, and Y.K. Kim, "Systems estimation of a structural model of distribution and demand in the US economy,Cambridge Journal of Economics, January 2022.

Blecker, Robert, "Chapter Eleven. Mexico: Unequal Integration and 'Stabilizing Stagnation,'" in Wray, L. Randall and Flavia Dantas (Eds.), Handbook of Economic Stagnation, Elsevier, 2022: 225-249.

Gershman, Boris, "Witchcraft Beliefs, Social Relations, and Development," in Zimmerman, Klaus F. (Ed.), Handbook of Labor, Human Resources and Popluation Economics, Springer, Cham, 2022. 

Mohseni-Cheraghlou, Amin and Seyed Reza Mirnezami, "Wind Power in Iran: Technical, Policy, and Financial Aspects for Better Energy Resource Management," vol. 15(9) Energies, April 2022: 3230. 

Wisman, Jon D., The Origins and Dynamics of Inequality: Sex, Politics, and Ideology (2022), Oxford University Press.

Wisman, Jon D., "Economic Causes of War and Peace: Overview," in Kurtz, Lester, (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace, and Conflict, vol. 1, Elsevier Academic Press, 2022: 47-57.

See more at Research & Publications.

Recent Award Winners

  • Meave Fryer
    Professor Jose D. and Ursula Epstein Award
  • Amy Cross
    James H. Weaver Prize for Teaching Excellence 
  • Tinatin Mumladze
    Frank M. Tamagna Education Endowment Fund
  • Ian Riggs
    Caroline and Rick Barnett Scholarship Award
  • Stephanie Marvin
    Caroline and Rick Barnett Scholarship Award
  • Binderiya Byambasuren
    Fred and Barbara Bergmann Fellowship Fund
  • Linh Thao Huynh
    Robert T. Adams Scholarship Award
  • John Burzawa
    Robert T. Adams Scholarship Award
  • Joshua Sucec
    Ruth Dewey Meade Prize
  • Farah Tasneem
    Econometrics Paper Award
  • Danielle Wilson
    Simon Naidel Award

The DC metro area offers by far the highest concentration of economist jobs in the US, 19 times the national average, as well as median salary 15% above average: $133,000.

Graduates of the Economics Department make up an impressive contingency of Alumni, having gone on to work at places such as

  • Deloitte
  • IBM
  • International Monetary Fund
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • US Department of Commerce
  • The World Bank Group

For more information on where AU Economics graduates land visit the We Know Success page or visit the PhD Job Market Candidate page.


  • PhD alum Laura Sherbin spoke to the Washington Post about challenges for working moms in the ongoing pandemic.
  • Kelly Jones received a grant for $26,552 from the Manhattan Strategy Group and the Department of Labor for her project about improving FMLA coverage in underserved communities.
  • Jon Wisman and co-author Quentin Duroy won the 2020 Journal of Economic Issues Editor’s Prize for best article: “The Proletarianization of the Professoriate and the Threat to Free Expression, Creativity and Economic Dynamism.”
  • Gregory Lane received a $16,727 grant from London School of Economics for “The Potential for E-Commerce Platforms to unlock high growth for firms in Africa”
  • Professor Gabriel Mathy in Salon questions the legality of President Trump’s eviction memorandum, and proposed universal healthcare and UBI, among other measures to improve a failing United States.
  • Professor Maria Floro told Business Insider that without a bailout for the childcare industry women will take a step back in participation in the workforce.
  • Professor Gabriel Mathy spoke to The Wall Street Journal about how the pandemic-caused recession has impacted Latino workers.
  • Professor Amos Golan presented to the Santa Fe Institute on the effects of universal TB vaccination, air pollution, and health-related expenditure on COVID-19 recovery rates.
  • Professor Evan Kraft published an opinion piece in The Hill entitled "Shaky economic data portend a shaky recovery."
  • Professor Maria Floro spoke to Business Insider about the effects of COVID-19 on women's careers.
  • Professor Amos Golan presented to the Santa Fe Institute on the effects of universal TB vaccination, air pollution, and health-related expenditure on COVID-19 recovery rates.
  • Professor Evan Kraft published an opinion piece in The Hill entitled "Shaky economic data portend a shaky recovery."
  • Professor Maria Floro spoke to Business Insider about the effects of COVID-19 on women's careers.
A person in a suit walking in the street.  Photo by Saulo Mohana

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Aina Krupinski Puig

PhD Candidate, Economics Aina K. Puig, AU doctoral candidate in Economics.

Economics PhD candidate Elissa Cohen received an NSF grant to pursue her research about assumptions people make about risk and, building off an idea from a previous project, Elissa continues her interest in the Value of Statistical Life in this one to question the validity of how VSL is used and estimated. In doing so, she contributes to development of a more complete theory of how perceptions of risk guide decision making.

Elissa asks three questions: (1) Is the construct validity of the VSL consistent across measurement approaches? (2) Do people value the mitigation of varying types of fatality risk differently across domains? (3) Do people accurately comprehend the probability of death in a given setting?

To answer these questions, Elissa uses discrete choice experimental (DCE) designs, self-report surveys, and machine learning techniques to evaluate the validity of the VSL as an assessment how people’s risk assessment shapes behavior.

This research improves the understanding of how people perceive fatality risk across domains and how perceptions impact choices about risk exposure. With this research comes the potential to reshape how regulatory agencies construct their aggregated VSL estimates for future cost-benefit analyses, influencing policy decisions and allocation of scarce federal resources.

As she thinks about impact and the research space she can contribute to and develop, Elissa comments, “AU has definitely helped me refine the types of questions I am interested in answering…. I see myself continuing to explore and test feedback loops between emergent human behaviors and macro-level policy decision-making.”

Amy Burnett Cross

PhD Candidate, EconomicsAmy Burnett Cross

Amy Burnett Cross has been selected as one of the three NBER Pre-Doctoral Fellows in the Gender in the Economy program to support her dissertation research on the influence of military policy on the sorting of women into occupations. Through this research, she is able to include her knowledge from AU’s Program on Gender Analysis in Economics as well as her understanding that by bringing more insight from conservative institutions into her research realm, she could enhance the policy space of gender equity.

As she continues her career, Amy desires to conduct research that is directly applicable to policymakers, and through her research on this project, Amy has the chance to do this in addition to engaging with economic history and begin to invest more time in the historical arc of military policy and gender dynamics.

She has three focuses for her dissertation project: (1) evaluate the impact of lifting the ban on women in combat (in 2013) on civilian occupational desegregation; (2) measure the extent to which gender desegregation of the Army (in 1977) signaled a shift in the appropriate role of civilian women at work; and (3) assess whether the structure of the U.S. draft in WWI (in 1917) contributed to the development of the male breadwinner norm.

Amy’s work aims to provide evidence that policy changes can influence social norms constraining women’s work and occupational segregation, particularly in discovering how policies regarding women’s participation in the military go on to influence gender gaps in civilian labor market outcomes. In doing so, Amy also seeks to contribute to the research of information asymmetry as a cause for occupational segregation—does military gender desegregation function as a reduction of information asymmetry?

With the support and accommodation of her peers, professors, and advisor, Mary E. Hansen, Amy has been able to focus on her academic excellence and develop close friendships and bonds during her journey at AU. In discussing her work in gender economics and the community at American University, Amy offered, “AU attracts women economists and I have found some truly excellent ones here.”

A Career in Economics: It's Much More than You Think


Much more than finance, banking, business and government, a degree in economics is useful to all individuals and can lead to many interesting career choices. These four diverse individuals offer their insights on how a background in economics can be a tool for solving very human problems.