David Powell

Photo of David Powell
Senior Economist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Off Site Office


Ph.D. in economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; B.A. in applied mathematics, Harvard University


David Powell is a senior economist at the RAND Corporation and a member of the Pardee RAND Graduate School faculty. His areas of expertise include public finance, health economics, labor economics, and econometrics.

Powell's research examines shifts in the opioid crisis, the effects of tax policy on labor supply and health care decisions, and the role of health insurance benefit design.  He has also developed methods to estimate quantile treatment effects and extended the use of synthetic control methods. 

Powell earned his Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Research Focus

Selected Publications

David Powell and Seth Seabury, "Medical Care Spending and Labor Market Outcomes," American Economic Review, 108(10), 2018

Abby Alpert, Bill Evans, Ethan Lieber, and David Powell, "Origins of the Opioid Crisis and Its Enduring Impacts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 137(2), 2022 (forthcoming)

David Powell, "Quantile Treatment Effects in the Presence of Covariates," Review of Economics and Statistics, 102(5), 2020

David Powell and Dana Goldman, "Disentangling Moral Hazard and Adverse Selection in Private Health Insurance," Journal of Econometrics, 222(1), 2021

Abby Alpert, David Powell, and Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, "Supply-Side Drug Policy in the Presence of Substitutes: Evidence from the Introduction of Abuse-Deterrent Opioids," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 10(4), 2018

David Powell, "Does Labor Supply Respond to Transitory Income? Evidence from the Economic Stimulus Payments of 2008," Journal of Labor Economics, 38(1), 2020

David Powell and Hui Shan, "Income Taxes, Compensating Differentials, and Occupational Choice: How Taxes Distort the Wage-Amenity Decision," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 4(1), 2012

David Powell, "Synthetic Control Estimation Beyond Comparative Case Studies: Does the Minimum Wage Reduce Employment?" Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, 2021


  • A used needle sits on the ground in a park where there were raids to break up heroin and fentanyl drug rings in Lawrence, Massachusetts, May 30, 2017, photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    Opioids and a Crisis of Unintended Consequences

    The pain medicine OxyContin was reformulated in 2010 to make it more difficult to crush or dissolve. But this had unintended consequences, including a rise in hepatitis C infections as drug abusers switched from taking OxyContin to injecting heroin.

    Feb 20, 2019 The Hill