Melanie A. Zaber

Photo of Melanie Zaber
Economist; Codirector, Middle-Class Pathways Center
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 Zaber (she/her) is an economist at the RAND Corporation and codirector of the Middle-Class Pathways Center. She has diverse research interests spanning workforce development, postsecondary education, gender equity, and access to civil justice. Her research has examined household transitions (coresidence, marriage, divorce, bankruptcy), analyzed workforce pipelines (principals, military linguists, building tradespeople), and explored postsecondary finance (market power, state grant aid, student debt). Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Institute for Civil Justice, and the Social Security Administration. Current projects include an exploration of the persistence of women in STEM careers and an analysis of the longer-term education and career outcomes of participants in a high school youth development program. She received 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

C Doss, MA Zaber, BK Master, SM Gates, L Hamilton, "The Relationship Between Measures of Preservice Principal Practice and Future Principal Job Performance," Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 2021


  • Illustration of two pairs of legs and feet with one on a stack of books, photo by erhui1979/Getty Images

    Most Americans Consider Themselves Middle-Class. But Are They?

    There are different ways of determining who should be considered middle-class. But there is one thing they have in common: All reveal that the middle class in the United States is shrinking.

    May 14, 2021 ProMarket

  • Lauren Hoffmann had to return to work when her son Micah was a few weeks old, due to lack of paid family leave, in San Antonio, Texas, February 6, 2019, photo by Callaghan O'Hare/Reuters

    Supporting Working Parents Could Accelerate Recovery

    Since the COVID-19 recession started last February, almost 3 million women have left the labor force. With vaccines rolling out, will they go back to work? There are several policies that could help.

    Jan 15, 2021 The RAND Blog

  • 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