David Powell

David Powell
Senior Economist; Professor of Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School


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


David Powell is a senior economist at RAND 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: Evidence from Workers' Compensation Reforms," American Economic Review, 108(10), 2018

Nicole Maestas, Kathleen J. Mullen, David Powell, Till von Wachter, and Jeffrey B. Wenger, "The Value of Working Conditions in the United States and Implications for the Structure of Wages," American Economic Review, 113(7), 2023

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

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

Nicole Maestas, Kathleen J. Mullen, and David Powell, "The Effect of Population Aging on Economic Growth, the Labor Force and Productivity," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, 2022 (forthcoming)

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

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


  • Opioids

    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