Barbara L. Wolfe

Position title: Professor Emerita, Economics; Population Health Sciences; and Public Affairs


Phone: (608) 263-2029

204 Observatory Hill Office Building
1225 Observatory Drive

LaFollette School of Public Affairs
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Curriculum Vitae


As a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I have jointly held appointments in the La Follette School of Public Affairs, the Department of Economics, and the Department of Population Health Sciences. My research focuses broadly on poverty and health issues. My current projects examine whether housing voucher and public housing programs lead to better school performance of children in the household; how poverty influences critical brain areas among children and these in turn influence school outcomes; the influence of growing up with a sibling who is adopted or who has a developmental disability or mental illness, or a sibling who dies, on outcomes as a young adult; and, a comparison of the effects of early childhood general health, physical health and mental health on long-term earnings and labor force participation. Other recent work addresses effects of the Affordable Care Act, including effects on racial disparities in health care coverage, effects on mental health, and an overview of existing research and prospects for research in the future.

CDE research theme area affiliations

Demography of Inequality; Health and the Life Course

Selected Publications

Fletcher, Jason, Marian Vidal-Fernandez, and Barbara Wolfe. “Dynamic and Heterogeneous Effects of Sibling Death on Children’s Outcomes.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115, no. 1 (2018): 115-20. PubMed Central ID 5776792.

Serakos, Maria, and Barbara Wolfe. “The Aca: Impacts on Health, Access, and Employment : Forum for Health Economics and Policy.” Forum for Health Economics and Policy 19, no. 2 (2016): online. NIHMS ID 983987.

Buchmueller, Thomas, Zachary Levinson, Helen Levy, and Barbara Wolfe. “Effect of the Affordable Care Act on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Insurance Coverage.” American Journal of Public Health 106, no. 8 (2016): 1416-21. PubMed Central ID 4940635.

Fletcher, Jason, and Barbara Wolfe. “The Importance of Family Income in the Formation and Evolution of Non-Cognitive Skills in Childhood.” Economics of Education Review 54 (2016): 143-54. PubMed Central ID 6040669.

Dahill-Brown, Sara, John Witte, Barbara Wolfe. “Income and Access to Higher Education: Are High Quality Universities Becoming More or Less Elite? A Longitudinal Case Study of Admissions at Uw-Madison.” The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 2, no. 1 (2016): 69-89. NIHMS ID 983985.

Hair, Nicole L., Jamie L. Hanson, Barbara Wolfe, and Seth D. Pollak. “Association of Child Poverty, Brain Development, and Academic Achievement.” JAMA Pediatrics 169, no. 9 (2015): 822-9. PubMed Central ID 4687959.

Fletcher, Jason, and Barbara Wolfe. “Increasing Our Understanding of the Health-Income Gradient in Children.” Health Economics 23, no. 4 (2014): 473-86. PubMed Central ID 6047525.

Wolfe, Barbara, Jieun Song, Jan S. Greenberg, and Marsha R. Mailick. “Ripple Effects of Developmental Disabilities and Mental Illness on Nondisabled Adult Siblings.” Social Science & Medicine 108 (2014): 1-9. PubMed Central ID 4079586.