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Public Economics

Public Economics

Public economics is the study of government policy through the lens of economic efficiency and equity.


Public economics builds on the theory of welfare economics and is ultimately used as a tool to improve social welfare. Welfare can be defined in terms of well-being, prosperity, and overall state of being.


Bettina Brueggemann 

Assistant Professor


My research interests cover the broader themes of inequality, entrepreneurship, labour supply, and taxation. Within the field of macroeconomics, these topics can be studied using the theoretical and quantitative methods from the literature on macroeconomic modeling with heterogeneous agents. These models are built on a strong empirical foundation using household- or firm-level microdata and allow researchers to study the whole distribution of households in the economy.


Some of my past research projects have used these models to look at the consequences of higher top income taxes in a world where agents not only differ in income and wealth but also occupation or the role of taxation in the evolution of married couples’ labour supply over the last three decades. Current projects focus on the role of housing and entrepreneurship in shaping wealth inequality and rates of return, the impact of discriminatory housing policies on the racial wealth gap in the United States, or the nature of the secondary market for entrepreneurial firms in Canada.

Katherine Cuff 

Managing Editor, Canadian Journal of Economics | McMaster University Scholar | CESifo Research Network Fellow | Professor

Jeremiah Hurley 

Dean of Social Sciences | Director McMaster Decision Science Laboratory (McDSL) | Professor Economics


I am Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences; a professor and former Chair in the Department of Economics; a member of the Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis, and an associate member of the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact (HEI), all at McMaster University.


My research on the economics of health and health care systems includes physician behaviour, funding models and resource association in health care, public and private roles in health care financing, financial incentives in health systems, equity in health systems, normative frameworks in health economics, and the application of experimental economic methods in health research.


I have publications in leading health economic, health policy, and health services research journals and have acted as a consultant to regional, provincial, national and international agencies. I am the author of the Canadian health economics textbook, Health Economics.

Adam Lavecchia 

Assistant Professor


My research in public economics explores how tax policy affects a variety of economic outcomes, including savings, earnings and the decisions of where people choose to live. In one paper, I study how the introduction of Tax-Free Savings Accounts in Canada affected the savings and asset location choices of families with children. A second paper studied how the ‘catch-up limit’ provision, introduced as part of the U.S. Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, affected the retirement savings decisions of individuals. In ongoing research, I am studying how taxes affect migration flows to Canada.

Siha Lee 

Assistant Professor

Michael Veall 

Academic Director, Statistics Canada Research Data Centre | Professor


My main public policy research interest concerns “inclusive growth”, where I emphasize productivity through my role as Director of the Productivity Partnership/Partenariat productivité. This is a SSHRC funded initiative that focusses on the empirical analysis of productivity, particularly using firm and workplace data. One of my major research interests is taxation. I also edit the journal Canadian Public Policy/Analyse de politiques.

Jonathan Zhang 

Assistant Professor


My main research areas are in health economics and public finance. I study how supply-side factors, policies, and shocks impact individual wellbeing. Much of my research include a focus mental health topics ranging from understanding the determinants and consequences of mental health delivery and substance abuse to the impact of cash transfers for people with mental disabilities. I also collaborate closely with the US Department of Veterans Affairs to evaluate reforms and policies that improve immediate care delivery and long-term outcomes. I received my PhD from Stanford in 2020 and was a postdoctoral scholar at Princeton in 2020-21.

Ryan Bacic 

PhD Student


My research in the field of labour economics primarily examines the economics of education. Specifically, I examine the post-secondary education market (with respect to applications to programs, impact of majors on earnings, and gender equality in post-secondary education), and education outcomes among primary and high school students.


My work has thus far examined the gender gap in applications to male-dominated STEM programs (specifically Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science) and the difference in scores on provincial-wide tests across student groups in British Columbia. Outside of education, I have interests in the gender wage gap, racial inequality in employment outcomes, and wage differentials across industries.

Akwugo Balogun 

PhD Student

Stephen Hennessy 

PhD Student


My work focuses on macroeconomic growth, tax system design, and explaining distributional inequality in incomes and wealth.

Ae Jin Kim 

PhD Student

James Stutely 

PhD Student

Zichun Zhao 

PhD Student


I am a PhD candidate in Economics at McMaster University. My research interests are in Health Economics and Public Economics. Currently, I am focusing on the impact of public policy on health care utilization, health behaviour and private health insurance availability in Canada, especially regarding public health programs and minimum wages.