Emily Oster

  • Economist at the University of Chicago

Emily Oster, a University of Chicago economist, uses the dismal science to rethink conventional wisdom, from her Harvard doctoral thesis that took on famed economist Amartya Sen to her recent work debunking assumptions on HIV prevalence in Africa.

 
  

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Emily Oster Flip Our Thinking on AIDS at TED - Get Sharable Link
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The Behavioral Economics of Health

Health care costs are skyrocketing, due to plenty of reasons, includingobesity, diabetes, and heart disease. In this talk, Dr. Oster discusseshow toencourage people to change their health behaviors in positive ways. The talk goes through what we understand about people’s desire and ability to ...

Health care costs are skyrocketing, due to plenty of reasons, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

In this talk, Dr. Oster discusses how to encourage people to change their health behaviors in positive ways. The talk goes through what we understand about people’s desire and ability to change their behavior in several domains (HIV and health behaviors, genetic risks, etc.). Dr. Oster will also reveal how behavioral economics can teach us about encouraging better health behaviors in these areas.
 

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Biography

Emily Oster, an Associate Professor of Economics at Brown University, has a history of rethinking conventional wisdom.

Her Harvard doctoral thesis took on famed economist Amartya Sen and his claim that 100 million women were statistically missing from the developing world. He blamed misogynist medical care and outright sex-selective abortion for the gap, but Oster pointed to data indicating that in countries where Hepetitis B infections were higher, more boys were born. Through her unorthodox analysis of medical data, she accounted for 50% of the missing girls. Three years later, she would publish another paper amending her findings, stating that, after further study, the relationship between Hepetitis B and missing women was not apparent. This concession, along with her audacity to challenge economic assumptions and her dozens of other influential papers, has earned her the respect of the global academic community.

Prior to joining University of Chicago Booth School as an Associate Professor of Economics in 2009, Oster was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago and was also a Becker Fellow for the Initiative on Chicago Price Theory at the University of Chicago. She currently serves as a Faculty Research Fellow for the National Bureau of Economic Research.

She has worked on issues of gender inequality in the developing world, including the impacts of television on women’s status (“The Power of TV: Cable Television and Women's Status in India”), which was featured in Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s second book, SuperFreakonomics

Oster studies health and development economics. Her current work focuses on demand for, and response to, information about medical conditions. 

Oster is the author of Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong — and What You Really Need to Know.