Jennifer A. Heissel

Senior Economist


B.A. in economics, University of Notre Dame; M.P.P. in social policy, Duke University; Ph.D. in human devel & social policy, Northwestern University


Jennifer A. Heissel is a senior economist at RAND. Heissel studies how programs, policies, and contexts affect families and children. Her diverse research examines relationships between family dynamics, health, and performance. Her recent projects focused on the military setting, with studies on the prevalence of food insecurity, how parenthood relates to job performance and mental health care utilization, and access to and use of psychiatrists among U.S. service members. Another strand of work has studied the effects school policies (e.g., school start times, school turnaround programs) and other outside forces (e.g., a sibling’s teen parenthood, pollution, high-stakes exams) on academic performance in civilian schools. A final strand of research includes the collection of sleep and cortisol data to study the outcomes of children and teens.  Before joining RAND, Heissel was an associate professor of Manpower & Economics at the Naval Postgraduate School. She holds an MPP from Duke University and a Ph.D. in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University.

Selected Publications

Shen, Yu-Chu, Marigee Bacolod, and Jennifer A. Heissel, "Analysis of the Propensity to Seek Mental Health Care when Community Psychiatric Capacity Changes for US Military Personnel," JAMA Health Forum, 4(10), 2023

Heissel, Jennifer A., Olivia J. Healy, Ollieanna Burke, and Cristina Lopez, "Heissel, Jennifer A., Olivia J. Healy, Ollieanna Burke,# and Cristina Lopez.# 2023. “Standing Tall: Do Height-Based Accountability Incentives Predict Artificial Increases in Measured Height Among Sailors in the U.S. Military?" Military Medicine, 2023

Bacolod, Marigee, Jennifer A. Heissel, and Yu-Chu Shen, "Spatial Analysis of Access to Psychiatrists for U.S. Military Personnel and Their Families," JAMA Network Open, 6(1), 2023

Heissel, Jennifer A., Claudia Persico, and David Simon, "Does Pollution Drive Achievement? The Effect of Traffic Pollution on Academic Performance," Journal of Human Resources, 57(3), 2022

Bacolod, Marigee, Jennifer A. Heissel, Laura Laurita, Matthew Molloy,# and Ryan Sullivan, "Mothers in the Military: Effect of Maternity Leave Policy on Take-Up," Demography, 59(2), 2022

Heissel, Jennifer A., "Teen Fertility and Siblings’ Outcomes: Evidence of Family Spillovers Using Matched Samples," Journal of Human Resources, 56(1), 2021

Heissel, Jennifer A., and Samuel Norris, "Rise and Shine: The Effect of School Start Times on Academic Performance from Childhood through Puberty," Journal of Human Resources, 53(4), 2018

Heissel, Jennifer A., Patrick T. Sharkey, Gerard Torrats‐Espinosa, Kathryn Grant, and Emma K. Adam, "Violence and Vigilance: The Acute Effects of Community Violent Crime on Sleep and Cortisol," Child Development, 89(4), 2018