About the Department of Economics

The UC Davis Department of Economics has long maintained a strong focus on rigorous analysis, grounded in mathematics and quantitative methods and applied to policy-relevant areas of inquiry such as poverty, the environment, globalization, education and innovation.

The Discipline of Economics

The discipline of economics is fundamental for understanding individual behavior in markets, institutions and society, for guiding policies and strengthening international relations, and for attaining cooperative globalization. The UC Davis Department of Economics has long maintained a strong focus on rigorous analysis, founded in mathematics and quantitative methods and applied to policy-relevant areas of inquiry such as poverty, the environment, globalization, education, and innovation. Our faculty members, who are internationally esteemed experts in their fields, have expertise ranging from international trade and finance, macroeconomics, labor economics, and public economics, to environmental economics, economic history, econometrics and economic theory.

Undergraduate and graduate economics degrees prepare students for careers as analysts, advisers, educators, investors, policymakers, and administrators with banking and investment firms, marketing companies, major corporations, law firms, research institutes, government regulatory agencies, educational institutions, and other organizations.

Our faculty members publish regularly in top economic journals, have been awarded substantial research grants from agencies such as the National Science Foundation, have held prominent public policy and private sector posts, and have earned numerous distinctions. This environment creates a fertile ground for learning and a springboard for the career advancement of our undergraduate and graduate students.

Flexible Undergraduate Degree Options

After completing lower-division core courses in micro- and macroeconomics, statistics, and mathematics, undergraduates majoring in economics take upper-division courses in economic theory, macroeconomics, data analysis, labor economics, public economics, industrial organization, international economics and economic history.

Students may choose from an array of courses that interest them, with various degrees of theoretical, applied, or policy focus, and they can elect a "track" of concentration among several available choices, including: (1) International Macro-Finance; (2) Behavior and Strategy; (3) Data Analytics; (4) Policy; (5) Poverty and Inequality; and (6) Economic History. 

Department Ranking

The RePEc (Research Papers in Economics) project, which conducts the most up-to-date research-based evaluation of economics departments in academic institutions, ranked UC Davis at number 21 (top 5%) among U.S. Economics departments in June 2015. The ranking is based on quantity and quality of faculty and graduate students’ research accounting for number of publications, their impact factors, and citations.

Research Prominence

Research studies by our faculty members are routinely published in the top peer-reviewed journals in economics, including the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Review of Economic Studies, the Journal of International Economics, the Review of Economics and Statistics, the Journal of Economic Theory, the Journal of Human Resources, the Journal of Labor Economics, and the Journal of the European Economic Association. Many of our faculty members serve on editorial boards or as editors for professional journals.

The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the California Air Resources Board, the MacArthur Foundation, and other granting and governmental agencies have recognized the outstanding scholarship of our faculty members by financially supporting their research studies during the past five years.

In 2009, a $1 million gift to the Department of Economics created an endowed chair, the C. Bryan Cameron Distinguished Chair in International Economics, to support the work of a professor in the international economics group recognized for scholarship of global importance.

Fifteen members of our faculty have been nominated as Research Associates at the National Bureau of Economics Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts — the most prestigious scholarly association for economists in the United States.

Faculty Expertise

Department of Economics faculty members have peer-recognized expertise in a broad spectrum of topical areas, including labor markets, unemployment, poverty, taxation polices and credits, economic history, food and nutrition programs, consumer confidence, health care access and utilization, international trade and finance, food and energy pricing and supply, the economic impacts of war, and other matters of pressing societal importance.

Students have the opportunity to learn from professors who have conducted fascinating, insightful studies on the economic implications of immigration policies, on the emerging interdisciplinary fields of behavioral economics, modern data analysis, mechanisms for the transmission of economic inequality, and other novel topics.
State and federal agencies, national nonprofit organizations, and private-sector organizations have drawn upon the expertise of numerous faculty members to fulfill high-profile roles. For example:

  • Professor James Bushnell is an advisor to the entities that operate California's Electricity Markets and to the California EPA on the design and operation of California's market for greenhouse gases.
  • Distinguished Professor Robert Feenstra directs the International Trade and Investment Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Associate Professor Katheryn Russ has been appointed to serve as an economist at the Council of Economic Advisers of President Obama for year 2015–16.
  • Professor Alan M. Taylor served as a senior advisor for the investment bank Morgan Stanley in New York and London, working on global macro and emerging market research.
  • The World Economic Forum, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the United Nations have commissioned studies and reports by Professor Wing Woo, considered one of the world's leading economic experts on China and other Asian countries. He has advised several nations on macroeconomic and exchange-rate management, trade issues and financial-sector development.

Economics-Related Research Centers

Collaborative research flourishes within the UC Davis Department of Economics, fostered in part by several distinguished research centers based here. They include:

  • The Center for Poverty Research, co-directed by Professors Ann Stevens and Marianne Page, is one of only three such centers nationwide. Established through a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2011, to study the effectiveness of policies intended to reduce poverty, the center offers opportunities for involvement of undergraduate and graduate students.
  • The Center for International Data, directed by Professor Robert Feenstra collects and disseminates data on U.S. and world import and export markets, tariffs and other economic data pertinent to international trade. The center routinely offers opportunities to graduate and undergraduate students to use data for their research.
  • The Cluster for the Study of Temporary Migration (established in 2013), directed by Professor Giovanni Peri, leads several research projects based at UC Davis, analyzing the impact of international migrations on economies and societies. The cluster has organized workshops, conferences and events that involve participation of graduate and undergraduate students, and has obtained funding through several grants.
  • Faculty members James Bushnell, David Rapson and Erich Muehlegger lead research programs on several aspects of energy and environmental markets. Their teaching and research focuses on topics ranging from fuel and carbon markets to consumer behavior and industrial organization. The group is unifying these efforts under the newly created Davis Energy Economics Program.