Education economist named head of Terry’s Department of Economics

Josh Kinsler joined the department in 2015
Josh headshot

On any given day, the front pages of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times feature headlines about fiscal policy, product market competition, health care regulation and labor market dynamics.

Each article highlights how society might be impacted and includes debates about optimal strategies that governments, firms or individuals should pursue. That’s where economics comes in, said Josh Kinsler, a professor of economics and newly appointed head of the Department of Economics at the Terry College of Business.

“At its core, economics is a framework for problem-solving that allows us to model and understand optimal behavior in many important domains,” Kinsler said. “We have extremely talented economists in our department working on questions across the areas of microeconomics, macroeconomics, industrial organization, health, labor, development and econometrics. While the types of decision-makers and choices vary across these broad fields, what ties us together is our shared views on how incentives, scarcity and technology impact decisions and ultimately drive outcomes like growth and inequality.”

For Kinsler, an education economist who became department head on July 1, the challenge is to continue building the department’s national and international reputation. This will involve broadening support and exposure for current faculty, attracting new talented researchers to Athens, growing the PhD program and ensuring undergraduate majors learn the skills necessary to compete in a changing labor market.

Kinsler came to the University of Georgia as an assistant professor in 2015 and succeeds Chris Cornwell, who served as department head since 2008.

“Over the past 15 years, our trajectory has been incredible,” Kinsler said. “Chris has done a fantastic job leading the department and has put us in a great position to have continued success. My goal is to keep us on an upward trajectory, following a similar set of principles — hire and retain talented scholars, serve our students, and provide excellent teaching and advising.”

Kinsler is one of three new department heads promoted at the college. John Campbell, the Herbert E. Miller Chair in Financial Accounting, succeeds Jeffry Netter in the Department of Finance. James Carson, the Daniel P. Amos Distinguished Professor of Insurance at the Terry College of Business, succeeds Rob Hoyt at the Department of Insurance, Legal Studies and Real Estate.

“We are deeply grateful to Chris Cornwell, Rob Hoyt and Jeff Netter for their many years of dedicated service and leadership as department heads,” Dean Ben Ayers said. “I want to thank John, Jim and Josh for their willingness to take on their new responsibilities, and with the support of their departmental colleagues, I am confident each of them will provide effective leadership and direction for their departments.”

As a researcher, Kinsler studies the economics of education, covering topics such as how parental expectations and investments impact children’s skill levels, the effect of school discipline on student achievement, and the impact of college admissions policies. Part of his impact on the field lies in developing econometric methods that allow economists to study how students learn new skills and link them with long-term outcomes. He has published nearly 20 scholarly papers since 2011, and his work has been cited more than 1,400 times. Kinsler also serves as an associate editor of the European Economic Review.

In his time at UGA, Kinsler taught undergraduate and graduate courses in econometrics and the economics of education. In his undergraduate education course, Kinsler aims to cultivate a passion for the topic while bringing students to the cutting edge of ongoing research. He has also mentored and advised many economics PhD students studying questions in education and labor economics more broadly.