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Campus Address: 

Observatory Hill Building
1225 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706


610 Walnut Street
Madison, WI 53726

Campus Phone Number: 
(608) 263-2029

Barbara Wolfe, PhD

  • Professor Emerita


Barbara Wolfe is a Professor Emerita of Population Health Sciences and was formerly the Richard A. Easterlin Professor in the Departments of Population Health Sciences, Economics, and the La Follette School of Public Affairs, where she served as Director. She is also an affiliate and past Director of the Institute for Research on Poverty. She received her PhD in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1973 and has been a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1977. Professor Wolfe is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, a former member of the Advisory Committee to the Director of NIH, and a member of the National Advisory Committee, Robert Wood Johnson Health Scholars Program. She was an Adjunct Professor at the Research School of Economics Australian National University, where she has been involved with a cohort study on the role of income transfers in influencing the success of young adults. She has been a fellow at the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study and the Russell Sage Foundation. She has also been a Visiting Professor at the University of Bristol, Yale University, University of Melbourne, the University of Munich and the University of Amsterdam. Her current research interests include the role of income and income inequality on health; adequacy of resources at retirement and post-retirement; evaluation of the influence of housing vouchers on children’s schooling performance, and the influence of growing up with a sibling who has disabilities. Her most recent book (co-edited) is Biological Consequences of Socioeconomic Inequality. Professor Wolfe co-directs a training program in health and mental health economics.

Courses Taught:
  • Health Economics, Economics 848, Economics 845


  • Adjunct Professor, Research School of Social Sciences, Department of Economics, Australian National University
  • Member, National Advisory Committee, Robert Wood Johnson, Health Scholars Program
  • American Economic Association, Association of Public Policy and Management, American Society of Health Economists, International Association of Public Finance

Recent Honors/Awards

  • Guggenheim Fellowship, 2009-2009
  • Guest of the Rector, Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study, Spring 2007, Elected member, National Academy of Social Insurance
  • Elected Member, Institute of Medicine

Select Publications

Serakos M and Wolfe B. The ACA: Impacts on Health, Access, and Employment. Forum for Health Economics and Policy. Forthcoming.

Buchmueller T, Levy H, Levinson Z, Wolfe B. The Effect of the Affordable Care Act on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Insurance Coverage. American Journal of Public Health May 2016.

Burns M and Wolfe B. The Effects of the Affordable Care Act Adult Dependent Coverage Expansion on Mental Health. The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics 2016; March, 19(1): 3-20.

Hair N, Hanson J, Pollak S, Wolfe B. Association of Child Poverty, Brain Development, and Academic Achievement. JAMA Pediatricts 2015; 169(9): 822-829.

Wolfe B, Tefft N. Early Childhood Interventions and Cost-Benefit and Cost-Effectiveness Analyses. Chapter 2 in Investing in the Disadvantaged: What We Know, and What We Need to Know, about the Benefits of Social Policies, David Weimer and A. Vining (eds.), Georgetown University Press, 2015.

Fletcher J and Wolfe B. Increasing Our Understanding of the Health-Income Gradient In Children. Health Economics 2014; April, 23(4): 473-486.

Wolfe B, Song J, Greenberg J, Mailick. Ripple Effects of Developmental Disabilities and Mental Illness on Nondisabled Adult Siblings. Social Science & Medicine 2014; 108(C): 1-9.

Fletcher J, Seltzer M, Song J, Wolfe B. A Sibling Death in the Family: Common and Consequential. Demography 2013; June, 50(3): 803-826.

Hanson JL, Hair N, Shen DG, Shi F, Gilmore JH, Wolfe B et al. Family Poverty Affects the Rate of Human Infant Brain. PLoS ONE 2013; 8(12): e80954.

Hanson J, Chandra A, Wolfe B, Pollak S. Association Between Income and the Hippocampus. PLoS ONE 2011 6(5): e18712.

Carlson D, Haveman R, Kaplan T, Wolfe B. The Benefits and Costs of the Section 8 Housing Subsidy Program: A Framework and Estimates of First-Year Effects. Journal of Public Policy and Management Spring 2011; 30(2): 233-255.

Fletcher J, Wolfe B. Education and Labor Market Consequences of Teenage Childbearing: Evidence Using the Timing of Pregnancy Outcomes and Community Fixed Effects. Journal of Human Resources 2009; Spring, 44(2).

Wolfe B. Health Economics. In The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics, 2nd edition, Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume (eds.). Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Wolfe, B. Health Economics. In The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics Online, Palgrave Macmillan, August 2008.

Fletcher J, Wolfe B. Child Mental Health and Human Capital Accumulation: The Case of ADHD Revisited. Journal of Health Economics 2008; 27(3): 794-800.

Wolfe B, McHugh Rivers E. Children's Health and Health Care. Chapter 6 in Kids Having Kids, 2nd edition, Saul Hoffman and Rebecca Maynard (eds.), Urban Institute Press, 2008.

Haveman R, Holden K, Romanov A, Wolfe B. Assessing the Maintenance of Savings Sufficiency Over the First Decade of Retirement. International Tax and Public Finance 2007; 14: 481-502.

Wolfe B, Haveman R, Pence K, Schwabish J. Do Youth Nonmarital Childbearing Choices Reflect Income And Relationship Expectations? Journal of Population Economics 2007; February, 20(1): 73-100.

Haveman R, Holden K, Wolfe B, Sherlund S. Do Newly Retired Workers in the US Have Sufficient Resources to Maintain Well-Being? Economic Inquiry 2006;. Vol. 44: Number 2: 249-264.

Wolfe B, Haveman R, Kaplan T, Cho Y. SCHIP Expansion and Parental Coverage: An Evaluation of Wisconsin's BadgerCare. Journal of Health Economics 2006; Vol. 25: 1170-1192.

Wilson K, Haveman R, Wolfe B. The Role of Expectations in Adolescent Schooling Choices: Do Youths Respond to Economic Incentives? Economic Inquiry 2005; Vol. 43, 3; 467-492.

Wolfe B, Scrivner S. The Devil May be in the Details: How the Characteristics of SCHIP Programs Affect Take-Up. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 2005; 24(3); 499-522.

Haveman R, Holden K, Wilson K, Wolfe B. Social Security, Age-of-Retirement, and Economic Well-Being: Intertemporal and Demographic Patterns among Retired-Worker Beneficiaries. Demography 2003; May 40(2): 369-394.

Wolaver A, McBride T, Wolfe B. Mandating Insurance Offers for Low-Wage Workers: An Evaluation of Labor Market Effects. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 2003; October 28 (5): 883-926.

Mullahy J, Wolfe B. Health Policies for the Non-Elderly Poor. In Understanding Poverty. S. Danziger and R. Haveman (eds.), Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002: 278-313.

Vanness D, Wolfe B. Government Mandates and Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: Who Is Still Not Covered? Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics 2002; June, Volume 2, Issue 2: 99-135.

Wolfe B. Incentives and Challenges of TANF Design: A Case Study. JPPAM 2002; Fall, 21(4): 577-586.

Wolfe B, Wilson K, Haveman R. The Role of Economic Incentives in Teenage Nonmarital Childbearing Choices. Journal of Public Economics 2001; 81, 473-511.