Sylvia Brandt studies how asthma impacts a child’s quality of life. In her proposed project, “New Methods to Assess the Burden of Childhood Asthma in Massachusetts.” Brandt and a group of leading epidemiologists and policymakers in Massachusetts will develop a risk assessment of the burden of asthma onset due to pollution exposure.
Brandt's research focuses on two areas where traditional economic theories have failed to solve difficult problems in the allocation of public goods: fisheries management and chronic illness. Her research asks why these suboptimal outcomes persist and how policymakers can increase public welfare by increasing economic efficiency, policy effectiveness or distributive fairness. To answer these questions, Brandt extends standard economic models to incorporate approaches from the other social sciences; collects primary data or uses novel data sets to gain new perspectives on existing problems; and applies the tools of micro-econometrics for statistical analysis. Her papers highlight the influence of typically unobserved or hitherto ignored factors ranging from ownership structures in a fishery to household beliefs about medical treatments, and use these factors to explain why the real world deviates from previous theoretical models. Much of Brandt's research also has direct policy implications, whether for the design of regulatory regimes or for the evaluation of public health programs.