Assistant Professor Sean Fahle is a health and labor economist in the Department of Economics. He received his PhD from the University of California Los Angeles and focuses on risk and insurance behavior. You can find him teaching Microeconomic Theory (ECO 405 and 505), Environmental Economics (ECO 208, 412, and 512), Economics of Education (ECO 440 and 544), and Health Economics (ECO 739)!
Why did you choose economics? Why did you choose your subfield?
SF: I have always been interested in policy, and economics seemed to me to provide a useful set of tools for understanding and engaging in discussions around policy. I became interested in health economics, in particular, during a cross-country drive on my way to begin my first year of graduate school. At the time, during the summer of 2009, the Affordable Care Act was being hotly debated on talk radio stations across the country. Though the level of debate on the radio was fairly appalling, I was sold on studying health policy by the time I reached Los Angeles.
What research are you working on right now?
SF: I’m working primarily on two projects right now: one on the determinants of savings behavior in old age and another on long-term care policy in the U.S. Both are part of a larger research agenda on integrating microeconomic models of intra-family interaction into quantitative economic models.
What was your favorite paper to write, and why?
SF: Save, Spend, or Give? A Model of Housing, Family Insurance, and Savings in Old Age (with Daniel Barczyk and Matthias Kredler). It is a nice mix of theory and data and brings, I think, some new insights to a very long-standing research topic.
What is your favorite class to teach, and why?
SF: Environmental economics. It’s not my main research area, but it is an inherently important topic – and in the case of global climate change, one that most scientists believe poses an existential threat to humanity – and it showcases some of the most foundational ideas in economics, like the concepts of externalities and market failure. It’s also a great topic for getting students who might be passionate about the environment but indifferent (or worse) toward economics interested in the field.
What was your favorite class as an undergrad?
SF: International trade, in part due to the subject matter, but mostly due to the professor, the legendary Prof. David Roland-Holst.
What is your top piece of advice for your students?
SF: Take as many econometrics and data analysis courses as you can. These are the skills that the current labor market seems to value.