Matthew Holian

Matthew Holian

Chair & Professor
Department of Economics


applied econometrics, cost-benefit analysis, urban, environment, transportation, housing, migration, labor

Current Research Activities

My main focus recently has been on the question, How can evidence from public-use microdata be used in Cost-Benefit Analysis to help decision makers select optimal policies? My forthcoming book (May 2021) represents the culmination of my work in this area to date, and I expect a stream of subsequent publications to follow from the book. As one example, one follow-up study I am currently carrying out asks, Are state-level building energy codes effective and efficient? I also plan to use microdata to study migration questions, including what has been the impact of federal and state policies, and how have factors like natural disasters affected internal migration historically in the U.S.?  Finally, I am developing qualitative methods to address the question, How can tools of economics help guide decision making to prevent loss from wildfires in California? As one example, I have begun case-study research that is a comparative institutional analysis of fire safety policies in residential communities located in forest ecosystems.


Research Connections to Current Events

The subtitle to my forthcoming book is "Contemporary Social Controversies and the American Community Survey". In the book I show how the ACS data can be used to inform a wide variety of current events. In the area of migration, the ACS has been used to study immigration enforcement and work permit policies. In the area of discrimination, the ACS has been used to study the effect of major events that trigger discrimination (such as 9/11) on earnings of certain groups (Arab Americans). A variety of other labor-related topics explore the nexus of higher education and employment, and policies such as those that try to encourage students to major in STEM fields. Two of my January 2020 journal publications explore topics related to the environment, including building energy codes and land-use and transportation policies. The ACS permits study of many topics of the family, including whether recessions encourage or discourage fertility among different groups. In short, my work is firmly focused on using the ACS microdata to illuminate current events in a broad range of areas.


Personal Connections to Research

Over the past decade, much of my research has focused on the climate-change impacts of transportation. My view is that climate change is the defining issue of our time, and I have continued to work in this area, widening my focus to include building codes and wildfire prevention. This explains my interest in environmental topics. In 2016 I became a father and this experience has sparked an interest to study education and family economics topics. In terms of methods, work by economists Andrew Chang and Philip Li opened my eyes to the "replication crises" in the social sciences. This led me to focus on using the ACS to build on previous studies, both to teach students research methods, but also to subject published research results (which often cannot be replicated) to further scrutiny. I hope my work in this area will help steer the economics profession towards carrying out deeper dives in analysis of data.


Social Media

Google Scholar


Other Languages

Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, Spanish.