Melanie A. Zaber

Photo of Melanie Zaber
Associate Economist
Pittsburgh Office


Ph.D. in economics and public policy, Carnegie Mellon University; B.S. in economics, policy studies, Syracuse University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

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Melanie A. Zaber (she/her) is an associate economist at the RAND Corporation. She has diverse research interests spanning economic demography, civilian and military workforce and training, and access to institutions. Her work has examined household transitions and dynamics (coresidence, marriage, divorce, partner communication), analyzed workforce pipelines (principals, military linguists, construction), and estimated the impacts of having a lawyer or access to a lawyer on bankruptcy outcomes and divorce probability. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Institute for Civil Justice, and the Michigan Retirement and Disability Research Center. She is currently co-leading several projects related to gender-workforce dynamics as well as higher education finance. She received her B.S. in economics and policy studies from Syracuse University and her Ph.D. in economics and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

Selected Publications

Epple, Dennis; Romano, Richard; Sarpca, Sinan; Sieg, Holger, Zaber, Melanie, "Market Power and Price Discrimination in the U.S. Market for Higher Education," RAND Journal of Economics, 2019

Black, Dan; Taylor, Lowell; Zaber, Melanie, "Empirical Evidence in the Study of Labor Markets: Opportunities and Challenges for a New Household Survey," Journal of Economic Analysis and Social Measurement, 2015

Rohlfs, Chris; Zilora, Melanie, "Estimating Parents' Valuation of Class Size Reductions Using Attrition in the Tennessee STAR Experiment," The BE Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 2014


  • Mother working at home while caring for a toddler, photo by kate_sept2004/Getty Images

    Working Moms at Risk of Being Left Behind in Economic Recovery

    Being a working parent was hard enough before the pandemic. If COVID-19 intensifies the perception that parenting is at odds with work, then there may be devastating career consequences for working mothers.

    Jun 11, 2020 United Press International

  • Multi-ethnic group of women, photo by andresr/Getty Images

    Women and COVID-19: Studying the Impact of Sex and Gender

    Much of current medical evidence is based largely on men. The current COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique opportunity to examine the potential value of asking questions about sex and gender differences to inform ongoing policy decisions.

    Apr 13, 2020 The RAND Blog

  • Man at home working on a computer, photo by monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images

    Should the Federal Workforce Stay Remote? Planning for After the Crisis

    As physical distancing becomes the new norm, so too does telework. But should federal agencies maintain their remote operations for the long haul? As those of us involved with national security agencies, operations, and workforce issues know, this is not a decision to make lightly.

    Apr 3, 2020 The RAND Blog

  • A sign in front of Bothell High School, which closed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, reads, 'Wash your hands!!!,' Bothell, Washington State, March 3, 2020, photo by Lindsey Wasson/Reuters

    Navigating College and Career Readiness in a Time of Uncertainty

    How we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic today will likely have longer-term effects. This means that we need to think about people who are actively preparing for that future: high school students looking to enter college and careers.

    Mar 26, 2020 The RAND Blog

  • Young woman saving for her education, photo by andresr/Getty Images

    Income Share Agreements: What's Risky, What's Promising, and What We Still Need to Know

    While policymakers debate options to address college affordability and the nation's mounting student loan debt, an alternative education financing model has been gaining ground in a handful of schools and state legislatures: the income share agreement. While terms vary from institution to institution, they are all based on the same premise: The more income a graduate makes, the more they will pay back.

    Jun 5, 2019 The RAND Blog