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Hannes Schwandt

Associate Professor of Human Development and Social Policy

PhD, Economics, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain, 2012

Economist Hannes Schwandt’s research agenda lies at the intersection of health economics, labor economics, and economic demography and focuses on the role of health in determining economic inequality. As an economic input to education, productivity, and wellbeing, health is an important determinant of inequality. At the same time, health is an output of an individual’s economic situation, the environment, and macroeconomic conditions—factors that can be addressed by public policy. In one line of research, Schwandt looks at macroeconomic shocks, such as stock market fluctuations, unemployment, and trade shocks, and explores their impact on health, human capital, and fertility. In a second branch of research, he focuses on the first years of life, including in utero. In particular, he investigates how environmental and institutional factors impair the health trajectories of children, and how they can be addressed by policies.

Schwandt’s research has been published in Science, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Journal of Human Resources, and the Harvard Business Review. His work has been featured in media outlets including the New York Times, Economist, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, NPR, and the Washington Post. His research has been supported by the Value of Vaccination Network and the Danish Research Council. Schwandt is a research fellow at at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), and an affiliate of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

Current Research

How Unfavorable Conditions at Labor Market Entry Affect Long-Run Labor Market Outcomes and Health. Schwandt and his co-author study the persistent effect of initial labor market conditions on labor market entrants in the United States for earnings, receipt of government support, and mortality by education, gender, and race/ethnicity. They find long-lasting, adverse effects that are larger for workers without a college degree and non-Whites. While these effects are partially offset by increases in the receipt of food stamps for the least advantaged, they find persistent increases in poverty. Mortality  increased, but only later in life, suggesting an unlucky start still has adverse effects once earnings and wage losses have faded.

The Lasting Legacy of Seasonal Influenza. Pregnancy conditions have been shown to matter for later economic success, but many threats to fetal development that have been identified are difficult to prevent. Schwandt studies seasonal influenza, or flu, a common and preventable illness, that causes strong inflammatory responses in pregnant women. Using Danish administrative data, he identifies the effects on children who were born to mothers who had influenza while pregnant. He finds maternal influenza doubles premature births and low birth weight, as well as having effects on labor market success into adulthood. His research provides evidence that strong infections during pregnancy are an overlooked prenatal threat with long-term consequences.

Selected Publications

Schwandt, H., J. Currie, M. Bär, J. Banks, P. Bertoli, A. Bütikofer, et al. 2021. Inequality in mortality between Black and White Americans by age, place, and cause, and in comparison to Europe, 1990-2018. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rossin-Slater, M., M. Schnell, H. Schwandt, S. Trejo, and L Uniat. 2020. Local exposure to school shootings and youth antidepressant use. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,

Pei, Z., J. Pischke, and H. Schwandt. 2019. Poorly measured confounders are more useful on the left than on the right. Journal of Business & Economic Statistics 37(2): 205–16.

Schwandt, H. 2018. Wealth shocks and health outcomes: Evidence from stock market fluctuations. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 10(4): 349–77.

Currie, J., and H. Schwandt. 2016. Inequality in mortality decreased among the young while increasing for older adults, 1990–2010. Science 352(6286): 708–12. 

Schwandt, H., and A. Wuppermann. 2016. The youngest get the pill: ADHD misdiagnosis in Germany, its regional correlates and international comparison. Labour Economics 43: 72–86.

Currie, J., and H. Schwandt. 2016. The 9/11 dust cloud and pregnancy outcomes: A reconsideration. Journal of Human Resources 51(4): 805–31. 

Currie, J., and H. Schwandt. 2014. Short- and long-term effects of unemployment on fertility. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111(41): 14734–39. 

Currie, J., and H. Schwandt. 2013. Within-mother analysis of seasonal patterns in health at birth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110(30): 12265–70.