2019 Dissertation Award Honorable Mention: Michael Stepner

Michael Stepner, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will be awarded an honorable mention at the 2019 NTA Annual Conference in Tampa. Michael is a postdoctoral fellow in Retirement and Disability Policy Research at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a postdoctoral affiliate at Harvard Economics Opportunity Insights. His research examines how social insurance affects equity and efficiency, with a focus on health inequality and economic inequality.

Michael received his PhD from the MIT Economics Department in 2019. His dissertation, titled “Essays on Health and Social Insurance”, examines how the risks of illness are distributed across workers, how those risks are insured, and how overlapping social insurance programs interact with one another. The first chapter examines the distribution of income risk that adults face from severe illness and the social insurance provided by tax and transfer programs. In the second chapter, he shows that employer-provided short-term disability insurance increases long-term disability insurance take-up and imposes a negative fiscal externality on the government budget. Together with his coauthors, in his third chapter he documents the large and rising inequality in life expectancy between high- and low-income Americans and explores how that inequality differs across local areas within the United States.