Sewin Chan
Associate Professor of Public Policy

Professor Chan, Associate Professor of Public Policy, teaches courses in microeconomics, public finance, and health economics. Her research is concerned with the well-being of individuals and households and how it is shaped by the interaction of economic behavior, market institutions and government policies. Professor Chan's current focus is on the economics of aging and retirement. Her recent projects include the impact of job loss on older workers, individual responsiveness to financial retirement incentives, and the well-being of caregiving grandparents. Professor Chan has also worked on the economics of the residential housing market, examining the inherent risks of homeownership and designing innovative financial instruments for controlling those risks. Professor Chan has received grants from the National Science Foundation, the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, and the Center for Retirement Research. Her research has been published in leading journals such as the Journal of Labor Economics, the Journal of Public Economics and the Journal of Urban Economics. She holds an M.A. from Cambridge University and a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University.

Semester Course
Spring 2014 CORE-GP.1018.001 Microeconomics for Public Management, Planning, and Policy Analysis

The primary purpose of the microeconomics core course is to enable you to use microeconomic thinking, concepts and tools in your professional public service work. Accomplishing this also requires refreshing and strengthening your quantitative skills.

The course begins with the basics of supply and demand and market operations, and uses this as the context for considering consumer and organizational decisions within a given market structure. The course builds to applying economic analysis to a variety of public issues such as the effects of taxation, the market structure of health care, the impacts of the minimum wage, the effects of international trade and various approaches to environmental externalities.

By the end of the course you should be able to articulate the economic context and analysis of a public problem, use economic concepts in managerial and policy decisions, and progress to second level courses confident of your understanding of microeconomics and its tools.


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Fall 2014 UPADM-GP.140.001 The Economics of Public Policy

The Economics of Public Policy analyzes the impact of public policy on the allocation of resources and the distribution of income in the economy. In this course, you will learn how to use the tools of microeconomics and empirical analysis to answer these questions: When should the government intervene in the economy? How might the government intervene? And, what are the effects of those interventions on economic outcomes?  The course will include topics such as: income distribution and welfare programs, taxation and tax reform, government debt, market failures, Social Security, unemployment insurance and health insurance.

 

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Fall 2013 CORE-GP.1018.001 Microeconomics for Public Management, Planning, and Policy Analysis

The primary purpose of the microeconomics core course is to enable you to use microeconomic thinking, concepts and tools in your professional public service work. Accomplishing this also requires refreshing and strengthening your quantitative skills.

The course begins with the basics of supply and demand and market operations, and uses this as the context for considering consumer and organizational decisions within a given market structure. The course builds to applying economic analysis to a variety of public issues such as the effects of taxation, the market structure of health care, the impacts of the minimum wage, the effects of international trade and various approaches to environmental externalities.

By the end of the course you should be able to articulate the economic context and analysis of a public problem, use economic concepts in managerial and policy decisions, and progress to second level courses confident of your understanding of microeconomics and its tools.


Download Syllabus
Spring 2013 CORE-GP.1018.001 Microeconomics for Public Management, Planning, and Policy Analysis

The primary purpose of the microeconomics core course is to enable you to use microeconomic thinking, concepts and tools in your professional public service work. Accomplishing this also requires refreshing and strengthening your quantitative skills.

The course begins with the basics of supply and demand and market operations, and uses this as the context for considering consumer and organizational decisions within a given market structure. The course builds to applying economic analysis to a variety of public issues such as the effects of taxation, the market structure of health care, the impacts of the minimum wage, the effects of international trade and various approaches to environmental externalities.

By the end of the course you should be able to articulate the economic context and analysis of a public problem, use economic concepts in managerial and policy decisions, and progress to second level courses confident of your understanding of microeconomics and its tools.


Download Syllabus
Spring 2013 CORE-GP.1018.002 Microeconomics for Public Management, Planning, and Policy Analysis

The primary purpose of the microeconomics core course is to enable you to use microeconomic thinking, concepts and tools in your professional public service work. Accomplishing this also requires refreshing and strengthening your quantitative skills.

The course begins with the basics of supply and demand and market operations, and uses this as the context for considering consumer and organizational decisions within a given market structure. The course builds to applying economic analysis to a variety of public issues such as the effects of taxation, the market structure of health care, the impacts of the minimum wage, the effects of international trade and various approaches to environmental externalities.

By the end of the course you should be able to articulate the economic context and analysis of a public problem, use economic concepts in managerial and policy decisions, and progress to second level courses confident of your understanding of microeconomics and its tools.


Download Syllabus
Spring 2012 CORE-GP.1018.001 Microeconomics for Public Management, Planning, and Policy Analysis

The primary purpose of the microeconomics core course is to enable you to use microeconomic thinking, concepts and tools in your professional public service work. Accomplishing this also requires refreshing and strengthening your quantitative skills.

The course begins with the basics of supply and demand and market operations, and uses this as the context for considering consumer and organizational decisions within a given market structure. The course builds to applying economic analysis to a variety of public issues such as the effects of taxation, the market structure of health care, the impacts of the minimum wage, the effects of international trade and various approaches to environmental externalities.

By the end of the course you should be able to articulate the economic context and analysis of a public problem, use economic concepts in managerial and policy decisions, and progress to second level courses confident of your understanding of microeconomics and its tools.


Download Syllabus
Fall 2011 CORE-GP.1018.004 Microeconomics for Public Management, Planning, and Policy Analysis

The primary purpose of the microeconomics core course is to enable you to use microeconomic thinking, concepts and tools in your professional public service work. Accomplishing this also requires refreshing and strengthening your quantitative skills.

The course begins with the basics of supply and demand and market operations, and uses this as the context for considering consumer and organizational decisions within a given market structure. The course builds to applying economic analysis to a variety of public issues such as the effects of taxation, the market structure of health care, the impacts of the minimum wage, the effects of international trade and various approaches to environmental externalities.

By the end of the course you should be able to articulate the economic context and analysis of a public problem, use economic concepts in managerial and policy decisions, and progress to second level courses confident of your understanding of microeconomics and its tools.


Download Syllabus
Fall 2011 PADM-GP.2140.001 Public Economics and Finance

Public finance (the economic analysis of revenues and expenditures of the public sector) and public economics (economic analysis of the public sector in a market economy) analyze the impact of public policy on the allocation of resources and the distribution of income in the economy. In this course, you will learn how to interpret economic analyses and how to use the tools of microeconomics and empirical analysis to investigate and predict the effects of public expenditures, regulation and government revenue-raising activities.


Download Syllabus
Spring 2011 CORE-GP.1018.001 Microeconomics for Public Management, Planning, and Policy Analysis

The primary purpose of the microeconomics core course is to enable you to use microeconomic thinking, concepts and tools in your professional public service work. Accomplishing this also requires refreshing and strengthening your quantitative skills.

The course begins with the basics of supply and demand and market operations, and uses this as the context for considering consumer and organizational decisions within a given market structure. The course builds to applying economic analysis to a variety of public issues such as the effects of taxation, the market structure of health care, the impacts of the minimum wage, the effects of international trade and various approaches to environmental externalities.

By the end of the course you should be able to articulate the economic context and analysis of a public problem, use economic concepts in managerial and policy decisions, and progress to second level courses confident of your understanding of microeconomics and its tools.


Download Syllabus
Spring 2010 CORE-GP.1018.001 Microeconomics for Public Management, Planning, and Policy Analysis

The primary purpose of the microeconomics core course is to enable you to use microeconomic thinking, concepts and tools in your professional public service work. Accomplishing this also requires refreshing and strengthening your quantitative skills.

The course begins with the basics of supply and demand and market operations, and uses this as the context for considering consumer and organizational decisions within a given market structure. The course builds to applying economic analysis to a variety of public issues such as the effects of taxation, the market structure of health care, the impacts of the minimum wage, the effects of international trade and various approaches to environmental externalities.

By the end of the course you should be able to articulate the economic context and analysis of a public problem, use economic concepts in managerial and policy decisions, and progress to second level courses confident of your understanding of microeconomics and its tools.


Download Syllabus
Fall 2009 PADM-GP.2140.001 Public Economics and Finance

Public finance (the economic analysis of revenues and expenditures of the public sector) and public economics (economic analysis of the public sector in a market economy) analyze the impact of public policy on the allocation of resources and the distribution of income in the economy. In this course, you will learn how to interpret economic analyses and how to use the tools of microeconomics and empirical analysis to investigate and predict the effects of public expenditures, regulation and government revenue-raising activities.


Download Syllabus
Fall 2009 PADM-GP.2140.002 Public Economics and Finance

Public finance (the economic analysis of revenues and expenditures of the public sector) and public economics (economic analysis of the public sector in a market economy) analyze the impact of public policy on the allocation of resources and the distribution of income in the economy. In this course, you will learn how to interpret economic analyses and how to use the tools of microeconomics and empirical analysis to investigate and predict the effects of public expenditures, regulation and government revenue-raising activities.


Download Syllabus
Spring 2008 PADM-GP.2140.001 Public Economics and Finance

Public finance (the economic analysis of revenues and expenditures of the public sector) and public economics (economic analysis of the public sector in a market economy) analyze the impact of public policy on the allocation of resources and the distribution of income in the economy. In this course, you will learn how to interpret economic analyses and how to use the tools of microeconomics and empirical analysis to investigate and predict the effects of public expenditures, regulation and government revenue-raising activities.


Download Syllabus
Spring 2008 CORE-GP.1018.001 Microeconomics for Public Management, Planning, and Policy Analysis

The primary purpose of the microeconomics core course is to enable you to use microeconomic thinking, concepts and tools in your professional public service work. Accomplishing this also requires refreshing and strengthening your quantitative skills.

The course begins with the basics of supply and demand and market operations, and uses this as the context for considering consumer and organizational decisions within a given market structure. The course builds to applying economic analysis to a variety of public issues such as the effects of taxation, the market structure of health care, the impacts of the minimum wage, the effects of international trade and various approaches to environmental externalities.

By the end of the course you should be able to articulate the economic context and analysis of a public problem, use economic concepts in managerial and policy decisions, and progress to second level courses confident of your understanding of microeconomics and its tools.


Download Syllabus
Date Publication/Paper
2012

Chan, Sewin and Brian Elbel 2012. Low Cognitive Ability and Poor Skill with Numbers May Prevent Many from Enrolling in Medicare Supplemental Coverage Health Affairs. 2012; 31(8): 1847-1854. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2011.1000
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Abstract

Because traditional Medicare leaves substantial gaps in coverage, many people obtain supplemental coverage to limit their exposure to out-of-pocket costs. However, some Medicare beneficiaries may not be well equipped to navigate the complex supplemental coverage landscape successfully because of their lower cognitive ability or numeracy—that is, the ability to work with numbers. We found that people in the lower third of the cognitive ability and numeracy distributions were at least eleven percentage points less likely than those in the upper third to enroll in a supplemental Medicare insurance plan. This result means that many Medicare beneficiaries do not have the financial protections and other benefits that would be available to them if they were enrolled in a supplemental insurance plan. Our findings suggest that policy makers may want to consider alternatives tailored to these high-need groups, such as enhanced education and enrollment programs, simpler sets of plan choices, or even some type of automatic enrollment with an option to decline coverage.

2011

Ellen, Ingrid, Vicki Been, Sewin Chan, and Josiah Madar 2011. Decoding the Foreclosure Crisis: Causes, Responses and Consequences  Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 30 (2011): 388-396.

Ellen, Ingrid, Vicki Been, Sewin Chan, and Josiah Madar. 2011. Negative Equity, Yes, But Not the Whole Story. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 30 (2011): 398-400.

2008

Chan, S. & Stevens, A.H. 2008. "What You Don't Know Can't Help You: Worker Knowledge and Retirement Decision-Making" Review of Economics and Statistics, volume 90(2), May 2008
Abstract

This paper provides an answer to an important empirical puzzle in the retirement literature: while most people know little about their own pension plans, retirement behavior is strongly affected by pension incentives. We combine administrative and self-reported pension data to measure the retirement response to actual and perceived financial incentives and document an important role for self-reported pension data in determining retirement behavior. Well-informed individuals are far more responsive to pension incentives than the average individual. Ill-informed individuals seem to respond systematically to their own misperceptions of pension incentives.

2006

Chan, S. 2006. New Measures of Pension Knowledge with Ann Huff Stevens. Working paper. Prepared for the 2006 meeting of The Society of Labor Economics.
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Abstract

This paper uses self-reports of pension information from multiple waves of the Health and Retirement Study to examine the consistency, completeness and accuracy of pension knowledge. Previous work examining individual’s knowledge of their pensions has relied on comparisons of employer-provided pension plan documents and self-reported pension plan components. Particularly for defined contribution pension plans, such comparisons may be misleading if the employer-reports are considered to be proxies for the true pension values. We show that patterns of pension reporting across time is consistent with substantial misinformation, but that pension information does seem to improve significantly immediately prior to separating from one’s job. Conditional on reporting a value for defined benefit income or defined contribution account balances, individuals are reasonably consistent in their reports taken just before and after leaving a job.

Chan, S. 2006. Is Retirement Being Remade? Developments in Labor Market Patterns at Older Ages Managing Retirement Payouts edited by John Amerikis and Olivia Mitchell.
Abstract

As Baby Boomers make the transition into their 60s, they have focused policymakers and the media's attention onto how this generation will manage the retirement phase of its lifetime. This volume acknowledges that many, though not all, in this older cohort have accumulated substantial assets, so for them, the question is what will they do with what they have?

We offer a detailed exploration of how people entering retirement will deploy their accumulated assets in the near and long term, so to best meet their myriad spending, investment, and other objectives. The book offers readers an invaluable study of emerging issues regarding assets and expectations on the verge of retirement, including uncertainty regarding life expectancy and morbidity. It is composed of chapters from a distinguished set of authors including a Nobel Laureate and a wonderful mix of academics and practitioners from the legal, financial, and economic fields.

 

2004

Chan, S. & Stevens, A.H. 2004. Do Changes in Pension Incentives Affect Retirement? A Longitudinal Study of Subjective Retirement Expectations Journal of Public Economics, July
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Abstract

This paper investigates the responsiveness of individuals’ retirement decisions to forward-looking measures of pension accumulations. In contrast to previous research, we use within-person variation in retirement incentives and are able to control for unobserved heterogeneity in tastes for retirement by studying a panel of subjective retirement expectations. We confirm that individuals do respond as expected to pension incentives, even when we control for individual fixed effects. However, the magnitude of these responses differs when estimated from models based on within-person versus cross-sectional variation: the inclusion of fixed effects reduces the response by about half.

Blustein, J., Chan, S. & Aguiair, F.C. 2004. Elevated Depressive Symptoms Among Caregiving Grandparents Health Services Research, Vol. 28, No. 6p1, pp. 1671-1690.
Abstract

The objective is to determine whether caregiving grandparents are at an increased risk for depressive symptoms.


Chan, S. & Stevens, A.H. 2004. How Does Job Loss Affect the Timing of Retirement? Contributions to Economic Analysis & Policy 2004: Vol. 3: No. 1, Article 5.
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Abstract

This paper estimates the extent to which reduced employment following job loss among older workers can be explained as a response to altered pension incentives and earnings opportunities. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, we first examine how workers’ earnings, assets, pensions and the resulting financial incentive to retire are affected by job loss. We find important effects of job loss on the main financial components of workers’ incentive to retire. We then examine retirement behavior after job loss, controlling for these changed retirement incentives, along with any additional effects of displacement not captured by retirement incentives. We find that the observed increased rates of retirement among displaced workers go far beyond these purely financial considerations. Very little of the reduced employment among older job losers can be explained by changes in wages and pension-related retirement incentives. Other barriers to reemployment may be more important explanations for the low employment rates of recently displaced older workers.

2001

Chan, S. 2001. Spatial Lock-in: Do Falling House Prices Constrain Residential Mobility Journal of Urban Economics, May
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Abstract

Falling house prices have caused numerous homeowners to suffer capital losses. Those with little home equity may be prevented from moving because of imperfections in housing finance markets: the proceeds from the sale of their home may be insufficient to repay their mortgage and provide a down payment on a new home. A data set of mortgages is used to examine the magnitude of these constraints. Estimates show that average mobility would have been 24% higher after 3 years had house prices not declined, and after 4 years, it would have been 33% higher. Among those with high initial loan-to-value ratios, the differences are even greater.

Chan, S. & Stevens, A.H. 2001. Job Loss and Employment Behavior of Older Workers Journal of Labor Economics, April
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Abstract

This article uses data from the Health and Retirement Study to examine the employment patterns of workers aged 50 and above who have experienced an involuntary job loss. Hazard models for returning to work and for exiting post-displacement employment are estimated and used to examine work patterns for 10 years following a job loss. Our findings show that a job loss results in large and lasting effects on future employment probabilities. Four years after job losses at age 55, the employment rate of displaced workers remains 20 percentage points below the employment rate of similar nondisplaced workers.

Chan, S. & Stevens, A.H. 2001. The Effects of Job Loss on Older Workers Peter P. Budetti, Richard V. Burkhauser, Janice M. Gregory and H. Allan Hunt (editors), Ensuring Health and Income Security for an Aging Workforce, Kalamazoo: W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research,
Abstract

This article uses data from the Health and Retirement Study to examine the employment patterns of workers aged 50 and above who have experienced an involuntary job loss. Hazard Models for returning to work and for exiting post displacement employment are estimated and used to examine work patterns for 10 years following a job loss. Our findings show that a job loss results in large and lasting effects on future employment probabilities. Four years after job losses at age 55, the employment rate of displaced workers remains 20 percentage points below the employment rate of similar nondisplaced workers.
1999

Chan, S., Schneider, H. & Tracy, J. 1999. Are Stocks Overtaking Real Estate in Household Portfolios? Current Issues in Economics and Finance 5(5), April 1999, pages 1-6.
Abstract

The rapid growth of the stock market since 1990 has encouraged the view that corporate equity holdings are becoming the primary asset for a broad spectrum of American households. A closer look at the evidence, however, reveals that real estate continues to eclipse stocks as a share of most households’ portfolios.

Chan, S., Schneider, H. & Tracy, J. 1999. Crowded House Boston Review 24, February/March, Forum: Sharing the Wealth.
Abstract

The extraordinary growth in the stock market over the past several years has significantly increased wealth in the US household sector. The Flow of Funds Accounts data indicate that in the second quarter of 1998 corporate equity holdings in the household sector amounted to $9.4 billion dollars or 28 percent of total household assets. This represents an astounding increase of $5.3 billion over the past five years. For only the second time since the mid-1940s have equity holdings surpassed all other classes of assets in the household sector (although real estate comes close at 27 percent).

Chan, S. & Stevens, A.H. 1999. Employment and Retirement Following a Late Career Job Loss American Economic Review 89(2), May 1999, pages 211-216.
Abstract

The frequency of job loss among workers in late career has risen disproportionately in recent years. During the early 1980s, displacement rates for 55-64 year olds were the lowest of any age cohort but by the recession of the early 1990s, they had the highest rates (see Farber [1997]). The effects of job loss on these workers are potentially severe: their earnings capacity, savings, and retirement expectations are likely to be dramatically affected and they may take substantially longer to be re-employed. However, despite these reasons for heightened concern, relatively little is known about the economic consequences of late career job loss among recent cohorts of workers. Empirical estimation of dynamic retirement models and analyses of retirement behavior in general have usually ignored involuntary job losses, and many recent studies of post-displacement outcomes have been limited to younger and mid- career workers. Given the changes in labor force participation, retirement rates and the nature of displacement over the past decade, it is important to document the effects of job loss on more recent cohorts of older workers. This paper presents findings from an ongoing research project that focuses on the economic impacts of late career job loss on employment and retirement patterns, as well as on earnings and assets.

Chan, S., Caplin, A., Freeman, C. & Tracy, J. 1999. Household Asset Portfolios and the Reform of the Housing Finance Market TIAA-CREF Research Dialogues 59, Feb, pages 1-12.
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Abstract

When individuals or families make retirement planning decisions, including asset allocation choices, it is important for them to consider how all of the assets they own fit together to form an overall portfolio of house-hold wealth. Surprisingly often, one of the most important household assets is left out of retirement planning discussions completely: the family home.

This issue of Research Dialogue examines in detail the central role that residential housing plays in household asset portfolios in the United States. Currently, families don't have much choice regarding the amount of wealth they must "allocate" to their home: either they own their residence or they do not. This stark choice generally leaves homeowners overexposed to significant financial risks that most would prefer not to take. The authors of this article describe financial innovations that, if developed and adopted, would provide families far greater choice regarding how much to invest in a home. The authors show that this greater flexibility could lead to as much as 20% greater wealth at retirement through better diversification of the wealth that homeowners currently must hold in the form of housing.

 

1997

Chan, S., Caplin, A., Freeman, C. & Tracy, J. 1997. Housing Partnerships: A New Approach to a Market at a Crossroads Cambridge and London: MIT Press, pages xiv, 265.
Abstract

A revolutionary housing finance concept can help many more Americans buy the homes of their dreams, while simultaneously furnishing vast, new investment opportunities for financial institutions and investors. The idea: enable consumers to purchase part of a home through a new type of financing called Housing Partnership agreements.

Housing Partnerships: A New Approach to a Market at Crossroads provides a blueprint for the development of this alternative housing finance market, and offers a new and compelling housing finance option: instead of the existing two housing options -- renting or buying an entire dwelling -- would-be home owners can finance a percentage of a property, while the other portion is financed by institutional investors, who provide capital for the house in exchange for a proportion of the final sale price.

The home buyer (Managing Partner) and a financial institution (Limited Partner) would each own a fixed proportion of the home, resulting in co-ownership of the property. The Managing Partner would live in the entire home and when the house is sold, potential proceeds are split with the Limited Partner.

Housing Partnerships: A New Approach to a Market at a Crossroads proposes adapting the same legal form used successfully by commercial enterprises for the residential housing market. Why can't individual home owners, just like businesses, avail themselves to the benefits of this type of ownership? Why is the U.S. housing market the only one in which there is no way to sell any part of the return stream to other investors?

Housing Partnerships: A New Approach to a Market at a Crossroads has ideas to interest a range of readers, from prospective home buyers to realtors, from financial investors to those interested in housing and social policy development.

 

1996

Chan, S. 1996. Residential Mobility and Mortgages Regional Science and Urban Economics 26(3-4), June 1996, pages 287-311.
Abstract

Mortgage applications are a detailed and accurate source of household information that is verified by underwriters, making it a more accurate data source than self-reported survey answers. This paper discusses how mortgage data can be applied to areas of economics outside mortgage finance. As a supplement to variables from the application form, the self-selection of mortgage points is used to infer expected mobility. A duration model of housing spells is estimated, and the points indicator is shown to be highly significant in predicting mobility for low loan-to-value borrowers. The findings demonstrate the potential fruitfulness of using this new data source.

In the Press

05/18/2012
Is Owning a Home Still Part of the American Dream? [Video]
Over 50 And Out Of Work