Predoctoral Fellowships in Health Economics Research

The Initiative on Enabling Choice and Competition at the University of Chicago accepts applications for predoctoral fellowship awards annually. The fellowship is meant to encourage original inquiry that will deepen our understanding of health and health care markets and how they relate to the overall economy.

Fellows awarded funding conduct research on the economics of health and health care under Professors Casey B. Mulligan and Tomas J. Philipson, as well as interact and collaborate with a large network of other economics scholars at the institute and throughout the University of Chicago.

Awardees from organizations other than The University of Chicago are based at their home institution but will likely visit The University of Chicago during the course of the grant period.


Applications from current Ph.D. students and researchers at institutions both within and outside the US are welcome.


The program provides dissertation fellowships to Ph.D. students in the amount of $17,500. Fellows receive $10,000 of funding upon notification of the award, and the remaining $7,500 is awarded upon receipt of dissertation.

Fellows are required to write a dissertation on the economics of health care under Professors Mulligan and Philipson and participate at the annual conference at the University of Chicago, where they will present and discuss their work.

Application Requirements

The application deadline for 2023-2024 has now passed; applications are no longer being accepted.

The application deadline is December 31, 2023. Submissions should be no longer than five pages and include a description of the research to be conducted while in the program. Please apply using the following link.

Should you encounter any issues, please email ecchc@uchicago.edu.

Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Award Recipients 2023-2024

Vitor Melo
Pre-doctoral Fellowship Award Recipient 2023-2024


Vitor Melo is a PhD candidate in Economics at Clemson University. His research fields are health economics, public economics, and industrial organization. His current research uses causal inference methods to evaluate the economic effects of health and labor regulations.

Proposal Title: Understanding the Effects of Healthcare Regulations.

“I study the effects of healthcare, energy, and labor regulations, differences in ownership structure, the political economy of regulations, among other related topics. As a fellow at the Initiative on Enabling Choice and Competition I will examine how rural healthcare access is affected by government restrictions.  Rural areas in the U.S. fare worse than their urban counterparts on many indicators of health, including mortality, chronic disease, and behavioral risk factors. A long-standing challenge to promoting health in rural areas is ensuring adequate access to healthcare services. My research examines how healthcare supply restrictions affect access to hospital services in rural areas and how these effects differ in urban areas. My research also examines how healthcare labor outcomes are affected by hospital supply restrictions.”

Joy Dada
Pre-doctoral Fellowship Award Recipient 2023-2024


Joy Dada is a Predoctoral Researcher at the Development Innovation Lab at the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on healthcare markets and social welfare programs, with an emphasis on early childhood development and maternal wellbeing in low-income settings. She holds degrees in Mathematics and Economics from the University of Chicago.

Proposal Title: The Impact of Nurse Licensure Compacts on Labor Mobility and Wages During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), enacted by 41 states, allows nurses to work across state lines under a single license. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, all governors declared a State of Emergency introducing license waivers for healthcare professionals, allowing the freer movement of nurses across the country. This temporary lowering of state-level barriers to practice can be viewed as inducting all states into a “COVID-19 quasi-national licensure compact”. Pre-pandemic evidence suggests that the NLC enhanced labor mobility. This study primarily aims to identify the differential impact of the COVID quasi-national compact on the mobility of nurses inside and outside of the NLC by exploiting the staggered state-level declaration and rescinding of emergency license waivers. Using ZIP-code-level data tracking nurses’ practice location, I use a triple difference model to provide a novel estimate of the relationship between compact membership and “intensive mobility” or the quantity of mobility, measured by the distance between worksites, alongside “extensive mobility”, whether or not a nurse moves across state-lines or ZIP codes for work. I also investigate the relationship between earnings, nurse population, COVID cases, and compact membership status, extending Friedman and Kuznets’ seminal 1945 exploration. The heterogeneous responsiveness of mobility by NLC membership status during the COVID quasi-national compact, and the direction of mobility to states with high wages or low concentration of nurses has important consequences on wellbeing, prices, and migration. Furthermore, evaluating the benefits of less restrictive licensing requirements contributes evidence to the debate on the universalization of the NLC and similar compacts in other technical professions.”

Honglin Li
Pre-doctoral Fellowship Award Recipient 2023-2024


Honglin Li is a PhD candidate in Risk Management and Insurance, at University of Wisconsin–Madison. His research interests are in understanding the functioning of insurance markets and specifically how they interact with health.

“We examine whether accessing enrollment assistance improves consumers’ choice quality. Using the individual level enrollment data in California’s ACA Marketplace and exploiting the potentially exogenous variations in the assisters’ locations, we find that consumers receiving enrollment assistance are less likely to select dominated plans. Additionally, we examine the heterogeneous effects of assistance from public assisters or commercial insurance agents. Interestingly, our preliminary findings suggest that the effects are slightly smaller among commercial insurance agents, suggesting the potential presence of self-interested behavior among these agents. This paper contributes to literature on the role of assisters on choice quality and advances the understanding of the differential impacts of commercial agents and public assisters.”

Previous Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Award Recipients

Anran Li | Recipient 2022-2023
Ph.D. Candidate in Economics, Northwestern University

Fellowship funded research project:

 “Commitment, Competition, and Preventive Care Provision”

Vitor Melo | Recipient 2021-2022
Ph.D. Candidate in Economics, Clemson University

Fellowship funded research project:

Understanding Nonprofit and Government Ownership: Evidence from Nursing Homes in the COVID-19 Pandemic


Pyoungsik Kim | Recipient 2021-2022
Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Fellowship funded research project:

Labor Market Search, Illness, and the Value of Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance” 

Molly Schnell | Recipient 2017-2018
Ph.D., Princeton University

Fellowship funded research project:

Physician Behavior in the Presence of a Secondary Market: The Case of Prescription Opioids 

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