2020 Dissertation Award Honorable Mention: Amelia (Molly) Hawkins

Amelia (Molly) Hawkins, University of Michigan, will be awarded an honorable mention at the 2020 Virtual NTA Annual Conference.

Amelia is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Brandeis University.  Her primary fields are public finance and labor economics. In her research she explores how social insurance and public assistance programs affect decision making of individuals and firms, with a particular focus on the implications of these decisions for the labor market. She is also especially interested in how deterioration in health or low initial health endowments affect individual and household employment and well-being, what private and public resources people draw upon in those events and how they value those transfers, and how the design of social insurance and public transfer programs – programs which aim to palliate the risks of unexpected income loss – affect these outcomes in intended and unintended ways. 

Amelia received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan in 2019. She spent the following year at the National Bureau of Economic Research as a postdoctoral fellow in Retirement and Disability Policy Research. Her dissertation is titled Three Essays on the Interplay between Social Insurance, Transfer Programs and Labor Markets. The first chapter, joint work with Salla Simola, examines the employment effects of experience rating Disability Insurance. This chapter offers the first empirical evidence showing the trade-off created by experience rating between retaining workers with disabilities and hiring them. The second chapter, joint work with Melanie Guldi, Jeff Hemmerter and Lucie Schmidt, shows that eligibility for child Supplemental Security Income (SSI) among low birth weight infants increases disability benefit participation, shifts maternal labor supply from full to part time, and improves parenting behaviors. The third chapter investigates how the expansion of Medicaid coverage to additional categories of children and parents affects their participation in the Supplemental Security Income program.