Faculty Profile

Christopher J. Ruhm

Professor of Public Policy and Economics

Photo ofChristopher J. Ruhm
Garrett L050

Christopher J. Ruhm is Professor of Public Policy and Economics at the University of Virginia. He received his doctorate in economics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1984. Prior to joining U.Va., in 2010, he held faculty positions at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Boston University, and was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Brandeis University. During the 1996-97 academic year he served as Senior Economist on President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, where his main responsibilities were in the areas of health policy, aging and labor market issues. He is currently a Research Associate in the Health Economics, Health Care Policy, and Children’s Programs of the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Germany. 

Professor Ruhm’s recent research has focused on examining how various aspects of health are produced – including the rise in obesity and relationship between macroeconomic conditions and health – and on the role of government policies in helping parents with young children balance the competing needs of work and family life. His earlier research includes study of the determinants of health and risky behaviors, effects of job displacements and mandated employment benefits, transition into retirement, and the causes and consequences of alcohol and illegal drug policies. He is co-author of Time Out With Baby: The Case for Paid Parental Leave (published by Zero to Three) Turbulence in the American Workplace (published by Oxford University Press) and has more than 80 pieces published as book chapters and articles in economics, public policy and health journals. His research has been cited in national and international media outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, USA Today, Business Week, CNN, ABC, CBS, BBC and NPR.

Ruhm has received external research funding from a diverse set of organizations including the U.S. Department of Labor, National Science Foundation, several of the National Institutes of Health, the Russell Sage Foundation and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He is currently associate editor of the Southern Economic Journal, Journal of Population Economics and International Journal of Information Security and Privacy, on the editorial board of Economics Letters and the Journal of Labor Research, on the Board of Directors of the American Society of Health Economists and a steering committee member of the Southeastern Health Economics Study Group. From 2009-2011, he served as Vice President of the Southern Economic Association.

Selected Recent Publications

Recession, Healthy No More

Christopher J. Ruhm, "Recessions, Healthy No More?" Journal of Health Economics (forthcoming).  read more »

Private Equity and the Innovation Strategies of Entrepreneurial Firms: Empirical Evidence from the Small Business Innovation Research Program

Ruhm, Christopher J., Link, Albert N., Siegel, Donald S. “Private Equity and the Innovation Strategies of Entrepreneurial Firms: Empirical Evidence from the Small Business Innovation Research Program”, Managerial and Decision Economics , forthcoming.  read more »


Related News & Events

Ruhm: How Economic Downturns May Be Good for Your Health read more »

Ruhm Speaks at Department of Labor Symposium read more »

Batten Ranked #3 Economics Institution in Virginia read more »

Professor Ruhm's NBER Working Paper on BMI Cited read more »

Christopher Ruhm Speaks About Paid Family Leave on PBS read more »

New York Times Features Ruhm's Research on Health and Unemployment read more »

Professor Ruhm Quoted in the New York Times on Paternity Leave read more »

Research by Chris Ruhm, a public policy professor at the University of Virginia, has shown that people tend to exercise less during economic upswings, and they tend to eat out more—and restaurant meals are usually higher in fat and calories. In Cuba, for example, a period of pronounced, years-long austerity led to a steep drop in obesity and cardiovascular disease because people walked and biked more as public transportation was scaled back. read more »

California’s program increased the probability that mothers in that state would be back at work within nine months to a year after giving birth, according to research by Christopher J. Ruhm, professor of public policy and economics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and Charles L. Baum, professor of economics at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. read more »

Paid leave shouldn't be cast in such a narrow light, says University of Virginia's Christopher Ruhm. Paid family leave is a family values issue, although he admits the conservative politicians who employ that phrase aren't typically referring to the kind of work-life balance that, in his opinion, paid family leave allows read more »