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"Applying Behavioral Insights to the Design of Public Policy"

Brigitte Madrian headshot

Brigitte Madrian presented the Sixth Annual Paul Volcker Lecture in Behavioral Economics on Monday, March 29, 2021. The lecture was held virtually on Zoom. 

Dr. Madrian is the Dean and Marriott Distinguished Professor in the Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business where she has a joint appointment in the Department of Finance and the George W. Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics. Before coming to Brigham Young University, she was on the faculty at the Harvard Kennedy School (2006-2018), the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School (2003-2006), the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business (1995-2003) and the Harvard University Economics Department (1993-1995). She is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and served as co-director of the NBER Household Finance working group from 2010-2018.

Dr. Madrian’s current research focuses on behavioral economics and household finance, with a particular focus on household saving and investment behavior. Her work in this area has impacted the design of employer-sponsored savings plans in the U.S. and has influenced pension reform legislation both in the U.S. and abroad. She also uses the lens of behavioral economics to understand health behaviors and improve health outcomes.

Dr. Madrian received her Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and studied economics as an undergraduate at Brigham Young University. She is a recipient of the Skandia Research Prize for outstanding research on “Long-Term Savings” with relevance for banking, insurance, and financial services (2019), the Retirement Income Industry Association Achievement in Applied Retirement Research Award (2015) and a three-time recipient of the TIAA Paul A. Samuelson Award for Scholarly Research on Lifelong Financial Security (2002, 2011 and 2017).




About the Volcker Lecture & Symposium 

The Volcker Chair was endowed by Robert Menschel, former senior director at Goldman Sachs Group and trustee emeritus of Syracuse University.“ The critically important field of behavioral economics, although relatively new, has quickly become central to policy makers and corporate leaders in their decision making,” observes Menschel, the author of Markets, Mobs, and Mayhem:  A Modern Look at the Madness of Crowds.“ Paul Volcker is the nation’s preeminent economist who epitomizes the very best thinking in this area.” Volcker’s distinguished career includes eight years as chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve under Presidents Carter and Reagan; four years as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; and two years as chair of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. In addition, he served as Undersecretary of Treasury for international monetary affairs and was chairman of the prominent New York investment banking firm, J. Rothschild, Wolfensohn & Co. Volcker also chaired the National Commission on the Public Service, which focused on the changes needed to restore vitality and credibility to public service. 

The Maxwell School gratefully acknowledges Mr. Menschel's generous support. Funding for policy-relevant research and professional training for future public officials are key components to advancing effective governance at the national, state and local levels.

Leonard Burman, the Paul Volcker Chair in Behavioral Economics, hosts the Paul Volcker Lecture and Symposium. Burman, in collaboration with colleagues in Maxwell's Center for Policy Research, where he is a senior research associate, organizes an annual conference or lecture on a public policy topic drawing on the insights and perspectives of behavioral economics. In addition, graduate students, in public administration and economics, organize a companion research symposium featuring scholars working at the cutting edge of research in behavioral economics and public policy. 

For more information on the Paul Volcker Lecture, contact Katrina Fiacchi at: kfiacchi@syr.edu.


View Past Volcker Lectures