Dora Costa, MIT Dept. of Economics

Short Biography

Dora L. Costa is Professor of Economics at MIT where she teaches economic history. She is also a research associate in the National Bureau of Economic Research's programs on the Development of the American Economy and on Aging and the co-director of the working group Cohort Studies. She received her B.A. in economics and mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1986 and her Phd in economics from the University of Chicago in 1993 and joined MIT in 1993. She spent 1995-1996 at the National Bureau of Economic Research as an Aging Fellow, 1999-2000 at the Russell Sage Foundation as a visiting scholar, and 2003-2004 at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral and Social Sciences as a fellow. She has received several NIH grants. Costa's research focuses primarily on issues in labor economics, demography, and health, as interpreted over the long span of American economic history. Her work has covered a wide range of topics including: retirement, elderly living arrangements, determinants of older age mortality and morbidity, long-term trends in the health of the population, trends in leisure, CPI bias, and social capital. Most of her research contrasts and compares the past with the present and examines why cross-sectional relations have been changing to better inform our understanding of the future. She is the author of numerous articles and a book, "The Evolution of Retirement: An American Economic History 1880-1990" (University of Chicago Press for NBER 1998). She is currently pursuing two lines of research. One is an investigation of long-term trends in health inequality by social class at all stages of the life cycle and of the effect of childhood health on morbidity and economic outcomes at older ages. The other line of study is on social capital, using data from the Union Army. She and Matthew Kahn are currently working on a book, "The Social Face of War". Costa enjoys food, frisbee, National Parks, and week-ends at the office. She is a married to Matthew Kahn, a professor of economics at the Fletcher School at Tufts. They are both research assistants to their son, Alexander.


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