Tara Watson

Associate Professor of Economics
Schapiro Hall Rm 204


B.A. Wesleyan University (1996)
Ph.D. Harvard University, Economics (2003)


Note: courses in gray are not offered this academic year.

ECON 205(S)

Public Economics

ECON 255(S)


Fields of Specialization

Labor Economics
Public Finance
Health Economics
Urban Economics
Economic Demography


Schmidt, Lucie, Lara Shore-Sheppard, and Tara Watson, forthcoming.  “The Effect of Safety Net Programs on Food Insecurity,” Journal of Human Resources.  (Earlier draft:  National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 19558.)

Watson, Tara,  2014.  “Inside the Refrigerator:  Immigration Enforcement and Chilling in Immigrant Medicaid Participation.”  American Economic Journal:  Economic Policy.  (Earlier draft:  National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 16278.)

Watson, Tara, 2013.  “Enforcement and Immigrant Location Choice,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 19626.  (Previous version:  Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Working Paper 13-10.).  Under revision.

Watson, Tara, and Sara McLanahan, 2011.  “Marriage Meets the Joneses:  Relative Income, Identity, and Marital Status.”  Journal of Human Resources 46:  568-586.

Beeson, Patricia, Lara Shore-Sheppard, and Tara Watson, 2010.  “Local Fiscal Policies and Urban Wage Structures.”  Public Finance Review  38:  540-584.

Watson, Tara, 2009.  “Inequality and the Measurement of Residential Segregation by Income.” Review of Income and Wealth  55: 820-844.  (Earlier draft: National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 14908, April 2009.)

Fertig, Angela, and Tara Watson, 2009. “Minimum Drinking Ages and Infant Health Outcomes.” Journal of Health Economics  28: 737-747.  (Earlier draft: National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 14118, June 2008.)

Watson, Tara, 2006.  “Public Health Investments and the Infant Mortality Gap:  Evidence from Federal Sanitation Interventions on U.S. Indian Reservations.” Journal of Public Economics 90:  1537-1560.

Watson, Tara, 2006.  “Inequality, Metropolitan Growth, and Residential Segregation by Income,” in Brookings-Wharton Papers on Urban Affairs. Gary Burtless and Janet Rothenberg Pack, eds.

Morrison, Steven. A., Clifford Winston, and Tara Watson, 1999.  “Fundamental Flaws of Social Regulation:  The Case of Airplane Noise.” Journal of Law and Economics 42:  723-43.

Shorter Pieces

Watson, Tara, forthcoming 2015. “Book Review:  ‘Legacies of the War on Poverty’ by Martha J. Bailey and Sheldon Danziger, eds.,” Journal of Economic Literature.

Watson, Tara, 2015. “Room for Debate:  Lowering the Drinking Age Has Serious Consequences,” New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/02/10/you-must-be-21-to-drink.

Watson, Tara, 2014.  “Comments on ‘Socioeconomic Segregation between Schools in the U.S. and Latin America, 1970-2012’ by Anna K. Chmielewski and Corey Savage,” Lincoln Land Institute Land and the City 2014 Conference volume, under editorial review.

Watson, Tara, 2014. “Aggressive immigration enforcement discourages non-citizen parents from enrolling their citizen children in Medicaid,” Usapp blog (blogs.lse.uk/usappblog).

Watson, Tara, “Immigrants as a Potential Source of Growth for New England’s Highly Skilled Workforce, ”  New England Public Policy Center Policy Brief 13-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, 2014.  (http://www.bostonfed.org/economic/neppc/briefs/2013/pb135.htm)

Watson, Tara, “Marriage Meets the Joneses,” Vox EU, May 5, 2009, (http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/3533).

Watson, Tara, “Book Review:  The Geography of American Poverty:  Is There a Need for Place-Based Policies? by Mark D. Partridge and Dan S. Rickman,”  Journal of Regional Science, 2007, 47(5), pp.1002-1004.

Watson, Tara, “New Housing, Income Inequality, and Distressed Metropolitan Areas,” Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program Policy Brief Series, 2007.

Works in Progress

Watson, Tara, and Dean Yang, “Barriers to Medicaid Participation Among Immigrants:  Experimental Evidence,” in progress.

Watson, Tara, “Out of the Shadows:  The Effect of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals on Immigrant Labor Market Outcomes,” in progress.

Gordon, Nora, and Tara Watson, “School Choice and ‘Excess’ School Segregation:   Does School Choice Policy Explain Which Districts Have Schools More Segregated than their Neighborhoods?,”  in progress.

Thompson, Kalee, and Tara Watson, Undocumented:  The High Cost of Immigration Enforcement, University of Chicago Press, in progress.

Selected Prior Work Experience

Visiting Scholar, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, August 2012 to May 2013.  New England Public Policy Center.

Williams College, Assistant Professor, July 2004 to June 2011.  Department of Economics.

Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research, University of Michigan, August 2007-July 2009.

Princeton University, Postdoctoral Research Associate, September 2003 to July 2004. Office of Population Research and Center for Research on Child Wellbeing.

National Bureau of Economic Research, Research Assistant, June to August 1999. Research Assistant to Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz.

Brookings Institution, Research Assistant, August 1996 to July 1998. Research Assistant to Clifford Winston.

Harvard University, Teaching Fellow, September 2000 to May 2001. Teaching Fellow for Social Analysis 10 taught by Martin Feldstein.


National Institutes of Health, R21 Exploratory/Development Grant, “Barriers to Medicaid Participation Among Immigrants:  A Randomized Experiment,” Award Number 1R21HD071361-01A1, Grant Period September 2012 to September 2014.

University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research, Research Program on Childhood Hunger Small Grant, “The Effect of Safety Net Programs on Food Insecurity.”  Grant Period June 2011 to September 2011.

West Coast Poverty Center Small Grant Competition“Inside the Refrigerator:  Welfare Reform, Immigration Enforcement, and Chilling Effects in Immigrant Medicaid Participation.”  Grant Period September 2009 to August 2010.

University of Michigan National Poverty Center Small Grant Competition, “Barriers to Medicaid Participation Among Immigrants.”  Grant Period March 2009 to March 2010.

Williams College Department of Economics Henry George Fund, “Excess School Segregation:  Are Schools More Segregated than Neighborhoods, and Why?”  Grant Period August 2009.

Fellowships, Honors, and Professional Service

Williams College Teaching in the Diverse Classroom Workshop, Februrary 2014 to May 2014.

CeMENT Mentor for the Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession, November 2013.

Teaching Integrity in Empirical Research Workshop Participant, October 2013.

Inaugural Teaching Poverty 101 Workshop Participant, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty, June 2013.

Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research, August 2007 to July 2009.

Harvard Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy Doctoral

Fellow, September 1999 to June 2003.

Social Science Research Council Program in Applied Economics Fellow, September 2001 to August 2002.

Lincoln Land Institute Dissertation Fellow, August 2001.

National Science Foundation Graduate Student Fellow, September 1998 to August 2001.

Wesleyan University, Phi Beta Kappa Society and University Honors, May 1996.


AcademyHealth Conference, American Economic Journal:  Applied Economics, American Economic Journal:  Economic Policy (x5), American Economic Review (x2), Berkeley Electronic Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy (x2), Canadian Journal of Economics, Contemporary Economic Policy, Demography (x2), Eastern Economic Journal, Economic Inquiry, Economics and Human Biology, Education Finance and Policy, Forum for Health Economics and Policy, Health Economics (x3), Housing Policy Debate (x2), Journal of Economic Education, Journal of Health Economics (x2), Journal of Health Politics, Health Policy, and Law, Journal of Human Resources (x6), Journal of Labor Economics, Journal of Labor Research, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Journal of Population Economics (x2), Journal of Public Economics (x4), Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Journal of Urban Economics (x2), Labour Economics, National Science Foundation (x3), Proceedings of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences, Quarterly Journal of Economics (x11), Review of Economics and Statistics (x2), Review of Economics of the Household, Review of Economic Inequality, Social Forces, Social Problems, Social Science and Medicine (x2), Social Service Review, Southern Economic Journal, State and Local Government Review (x2), United States Department of Agriculture.


Courses Taught

Econ 019 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (Winter 2005, Winter 2006, Winter 2012, Winter 2015)

Econ 110 Introductory Microeconomics (Fall 2005, Spring 2006)

Econ 205 Public Finance (Fall 2004)

Econ 255 Econometrics (Spring 2006, Spring 2007, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2014)

Econ 456 Poverty and Place (Fall 2006, this course included the supervision of 18 original empirical research projects.)

Econ 468 Your Money or Your Life:  Health Disparities in the United States (Fall 2009, this course included the supervision of 9 original empirical research projects, Fall 2011, this course included the supervision of 11 original empirical research projects, Spring 2014, this course included the supervision of 14 original empirical research projects, Spring 2015.)

Econ 510 Econometrics (CDE Masters Level, Fall 2005, Fall 2006, Fall 2009, Fall 2011)

Econ 511 Econometrics Combined Section (CDE Masters Level, Fall 2004)


Williams College Service

Chair Program in Public Health (July 2014 to present)

Coordinator, Williams Poverty Initiative (September 2013 to present)

Bookstore Committee (September 2014 to present)

Economics Curriculum Committee Chair (September 2013-June 2014)

Program in Public Health Advisory Committee (September 2011 to present)

Economics Department Hiring Committee (September 2011-June 2012)

Committee on Educational Policy, elected by the Faculty (February 2010-June 2012)

Bolin Fellow Selection Committee (December 2011-January 2012)

Economics Department Director of Research (September 2009-June 2010)

Committee on Undergraduate Life (September 2006-June 2007 and September 2009-February 2010)

Chair Minority Coalition Funding Subcommittee of CUL (September 2009-February 2010)

Panelist for Students for Social Justice Dinner on Health Reform (Fall 2009)

Speaker for Women’s Center Lunch on Health Reform (Fall 2009)

Co-chair Diversity Subcommittee of CUL (September 2006-June 2007)

Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility (January 2006-June 2007)

Economics Department Graduate/Post-graduate Advisor (September 2005-June 2007)

Co-organizer Economics Department Brown Bag Lunch (September 2005-December 2006)

Mead Internship Committee (September 2005-May 2006)


Research Supervision

Catherine Jiang, Research Assistant Supervisor (Summer 2014)

Lei Brutus, Research Assistant co-Supervisor (Summer 2014)

Sam Woodbury, Second Reader of Thesis (Spring 2014)

Wendy Magoronga, Thesis Advisor (Spring 2012)

Wendy Magoronga, Research Assistant Supervisor (Summer 2011 and Summer 2012)

Alexa Lutchen, Thesis Advisor and Van Duyne Supervisor (Summer 2010-Spring 2011)

Leland Brewster, Thesis Advisor (Fall 2010-Spring 2011)

Leland Brewster, Research Assistant Supervisor (Spring 2010)

Corey Paulish, Research Assistant Supervisor (Summer 2009)

Joanna Hoffman, Research Assistant Supervisor (Summer 2009)

Aatif Abbas, Research Assistant Supervisor (Summer 2006)

David Phillips, Independent Study (Fall 2010 and Winter 2011)

Courtney Gainer, Independent Study  (Fall 2006 and Winter 2007)

Amelia Hawkins, Independent Study (Winter 2006)

Mia Desimone, Second Reader of Anthropology Thesis (2009-2010)

Candice Corvetti, Second Reader of Thesis (2006-2007)

Andrew Pocius, Second Reader of Thesis (2005-2006)

Andra Hibbert, Second Reader of Thesis (2004-2005)





Current Committees

  • Committee on Academic Standing
  • Public Health