Emily Fair Oster

Brown University

Photo by Rachel Hulin

Oster has since received a BA and Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University and taught at the Chicago Booth School of Business. She’s now at Brown University, where she works as a Professor of Economics. Much of her work focuses on the intersection of economics and health. A 2005 paper suggested that China’s exceptionally high ratio of men to women was due to Hepatitis B. That example also proves she’s not bashful to admit she might be wrong since a subsequent paper based on new data in 2008 was titled “Hepatitis B Does Not Explain Male-Biased Sex Ratios in China.” Aside from economics, she’s also a vocal advocate for revising modern parenting techniques, with three books on the subject already to her credit.

Why They Made the Worthy 100: Oster advocated opening schools during the COVID-19 epidemic rather than closing them. In 2020’s early pandemic days, she wrote a widely influential article for The Atlantic called “Schools Aren’t Super-Spreaders.” To support it, she built a data dashboard that tracked the spread of COVID-19 in schools. Then in 2021, she came out with the COVID-19 School Data Hub, a repository and analysis platform that tracks and compares data on the success of virtual versus in-person education in 31 states. It’s still one of the most comprehensive efforts to date for understanding how schools should operate during a pandemic.

Photo by Rachel Hulin

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