A Matter of Facts

Four UC Davis economists have joined forces with colleagues across the country on a new online publication, EconoFact, to bring fact-based analysis to the national debate on economic and social policy issues.

“Experts matter,” writes Katheryn “Kadee” Russ, associate professor of economics, in a recent EconoFact brief. “Highly trained economists are essential to the integrity and effectiveness of government reporting and policymaking.”

Portrait photos of four economists
Clockwise from left: UC Davis economists Kadee Russ, Giovanni Peri, Marianne Bitler and Ann Huff Stevens

Russ was writing about the historic role of the U.S. president’s Council of Economic Advisers, which has been downgraded by President Donald Trump. But her summary could also be used to describe the mission of EconoFact.

Aimed at policy makers, journalists and the public, the site provides analyses written by leading academic economists in short memo style and everyday language.

In addition to Russ, other UC Davis contributors are:

Giovanni Peri, a professor and chair of economics who studies immigration’s effect on the economy

Ann Huff Stevens, professor of economics and director of the Center for Poverty Research

Marianne Bitler, professor of economics who studies the effects of the government safety net and its effects on low income families, the economics of the family, and the impacts of food assistance programs.

In their first post, Stevens and Bitler looked at Republican proposals to replace Medicaid with state block grants. Drawing on lessons from 1996 welfare reform, they said savings in Medicaid expenditures would likely come from cuts in coverage. “Given the current distribution of Medicaid costs and spending, substantial costs savings would likely require reductions in the number of elderly and disabled receiving health care.”

They are among 41 leading academic economists participating in EconoFact. Launched in January, the site is directed by two professors at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

“They are attempting to highlight factual economic research relating to hot policy topics in a nonpartisan way,” Stevens said.

— Kathleen Holder, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science