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Melissa Kearney Ph.D.

Melissa Kearney, Ph.D.


3105 Tydings Hall
College Park , Maryland 20742
Office Phone: 301-405-6202


  1. Ph.D., Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2002.
  2. Dissertation: Essays on Public Policy and Consumer Choice: Applications to Welfare and State Lotteries.
  3. A.B., Economics, Highest Honors, Princeton University, 1996, Phi Beta Kappa.
  4. Thesis: Economic Determinants of Age at First Birth - awarded Wolf Balleisen Memorial Award, thesis prize in economics.


Melissa S. Kearney is a Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Maryland. She is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); a non-resident Senior Fellow at Brookings; a scholar affiliate and member of the board of the Notre Dame Wilson-Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO); and a scholar affiliate of the MIT Abdul Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and co-chair of the J-PAL cities and states inititative.

Kearney served as Director of the Hamilton Project at Brookings from 2013-2015 and currently serves on the Project's Advisory Council. She has held leadership positions in the Association for Public Policy and Management (APPAM) and is a member of the Research Advisory Council of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. She has testified before Congress on the issue of income inequality. Prior to joining the Maryland faculty in 2006, Kearney was a fellow at the Brookings Institution and Assistant Professor at Wellesley College. Professor Kearney received her PhD in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2002 and her BA from Princeton University in 1996. She studied on a National Science Graduate Research Fellowship and a Harry S Truman Scholarship.

Kearney's research focuses on issues of social policy, poverty, and inequality. Many of her papers examine the effect of government programs and economic conditions on the behaviors and outcomes of economically disadvantaged populations. Her work has been published in leading academic journals and has been frequently cited in the popular press.