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

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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


  • 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