Melanie A. Zaber

Melanie A. 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.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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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. Zaber received her Ph.D. in economics and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

Selected Publications

Matthew D. Baird, Robert Bozick, and Melanie A. Zaber, "Beyond traditional academic degrees: The labor market returns to occupational credentials in the United States," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, 2022

Rennane, Stephanie, Hannah Acheson-Field, Kathryn A. Edwards, Grace Gahlon, and Melanie A. Zaber, "Leak or link? the overrepresentation of women in non-tenure-track academic positions in STEM," PloS one, 2022

Karney, Benjamin R., Jeffrey B. Wenger, Melanie A. Zaber, and Thomas N. Bradbury, "State minimum wage increases delay marriage and reduce divorce among low‐wage households," Journal of Marriage and Family, 2022

Haller, Melissa, Jeffrey B. Wenger, Melanie A. Zaber, and George W. Zuo, "A Consumption-Based Definition of the Middle Class," Social Indicators Research, 2022

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

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