Nicole Maestas

Photo of Nicole Maestas
Adjunct Economist
Boston Office


Ph.D. in economics, University of California, Berkeley; M.P.P., Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley; B.A. in English and Spanish, Wellesley College

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

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Nicole Maestas is an adjunct economist at the RAND Corporation, an Associate Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, and Associate Director of the National Bureau of Economic Research's Disability Research Center. Her research addresses the economics of aging, disability insurance, and health care. Maestas' work on the economics of aging has demonstrated significant shifts in labor supply patterns at older ages. She showed that one-half of all retirees pursue a retirement transition path that involves partial retirement or labor force re-entry ("unretirement") and that re-entry was largely predictable ex ante, and not a consequence of economic shocks. She has also argued that labor supply at older ages is likely to increase still further, even absent policy changes to promote employment at older ages, due to increased labor demand for older workers. Indeed, her work shows that the rise in employment at older ages was driven in substantial part by an increase in labor demand by firms in the professional services industries. In current work she is examining how these labor force trends, and population aging more generally, affect economic growth and how working conditions affect individuals' ability and desire to sustain employment at older ages. Maestas received her M.P.P. in Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, and her Ph.D. in Economics also from UC Berkeley.

Pardee RAND Graduate School Courses

Recent Projects

  • The effects of Social Security Disability Insurance receipt on labor supply
  • Social Security Disability Insurance applications
  • Retirement, unretirement, and work at older ages
  • The effect of the Medicare program on disparities in health care utilization, treatment intensity, and mortality

Selected Publications

Nicole Maestas, Kathleen Mullen, and Alexander Strand, "Disability Insurance and Health Insurance Reform: Evidence from Massachusetts," American Economic Review (Papers & Proceedings), 104(5):329-335, 2014

Nicole Maestas, Kathleen Mullen, and Alexander Strand, "Does Disability Insurance Receipt Discourage Work? Using Examiner Assignment to Estimate Causal Effects of SSDI Receipt," American Economic Review, 103(5):1797-829, 2013

Dana Goldman and Nicole Maestas, "Medical Expenditure Risk and Household Portfolio Choice," Journal of Applied Econometrics, 28(4):527-50, 2013

Nicole Maestas, "Back to Work: Expectations and Realizations of Work after Retirement," Journal of Human Resources, 45(3), 2010

Nicole Maestas and Julie Zissimopoulos, "How Longer Work Lives Ease the Crunch of Population Aging," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 24(1):139-160, 2010

David Card, Carlos Dobkin, and Nicole Maestas, "Does Medicare Save Lives?" Quarterly Journal of Economics, 124(2):597-636, 2009

David Card, Carlos Dobkin, and Nicole Maestas, "The Impact of Nearly Universal Insurance Coverage on Health Care Utilization and Health: Evidence from Medicare," American Economic Review, 98(5):2242-58, 2008

Nicole Maestas "Cohort Differences in Retirement Expectations and Realizations in Redefining Retirement: How Will Boomers Fare?" in Brigitte Madrian, Olivia Mitchell, and Beth Soldo, Redefining Retirement: How Will Boomers Fare?Oxford University Press, 2007

Honors & Awards

  • Finalist 2010, National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation Research Award
  • Best Paper Award 2011, Annual Paris Conference on Money, Economy and Management

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Associated Press; Bloomberg News; Bloomberg TV; CBS News Radio Affiliate; Dow Jones; Fiscal Times; McClatchy/Sacramento Bee; NBC News; New York Times; NPR Affiliate in Los Angeles; Reader's Digest; Richard Heffner's Open Mind; U.S. News & World Report; USA Today; Washington Post

Commentary: Orange County Register


  • Social Security Disability claim form, pen, calculator

    Addressing SSDI's Looming Insolvency

    Social Security Disability Insurance will be unable to cover 20 percent of its scheduled benefit obligations beginning in 2016. The lack of an evidentiary base to guide policy has been one of the major impediments to the consideration of changes that could modernize the program without jeopardizing its essential safety net function.

    Nov 12, 2014 The RAND Blog

  • a woman in bed with a laptop and her dog

    The SSDI Program's Impact on Human Capital

    The combined effects of having potentially employable individuals receive SSDI benefits, and the loss of skills among those who are denied benefits, are significant, write Nicole Maestas and Kathleen Mullen.

    Mar 8, 2013 The RAND Blog

  • senior worker wiping his hands

    Economy Needs 'Unretired'

    Though work at older ages can benefit both the economy and retirees themselves, public policy does not always facilitate it. The retirement earning test in the early years of Social Security eligibility, for example, is perceived as a disincentive to work, writes Nicole Maestas.

    Dec 12, 2012 The Orange County Register