The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Contact details


Crotty Hall

411-417 N Pleasant St
Amherst, MA 01003
United States

Office 306


Michael Ash (Ph.D., Economics, University of California, Berkeley 1999) is professor of economics and public policy and chair of the Economics Department at University of Massachusetts Amherst. His areas of research are labor, health, and environmental economics, examined through quantitative models. 

Ash's main interests in environmental policy include disclosure and right-to-know laws, greenhouse-gas policy, and environmental justice. At UMass Amherst, Ash co-directs the Corporate Toxics Information Project of the Political Economy Research Institute, which publishes the Toxic 100, an index that identifies top U.S. toxic polluters among large corporations. 

In 2013, Ph.D. student Thomas Herndon, colleague Robert Pollin, and Ash critiqued the argument of Harvard University economics professors Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff that high public debt strangles economic growth. Herndon, Ash, and Pollin identified errors in Reinhart-Rogoff, undermined its key arguments, and spurred reassessment of the austerity agenda. Ash also served as staff labor economist for the Council of Economic Advisers (Washington, DC) in 1995-1996 and as Princeton Project 55 Fellow for the Trenton Office of Policy Studies (Trenton, NJ) in 1991-1992.

Professional Experience: 

  • Professor of Economics and Public Policy, UMass-Amherst, 2011-Present
  • Chair, Department of Economics, UMass-Amherst, 2011-Present
  • Visiting Scholar, Lisbon School for Economics and Management, Lisbon, Portugal, 2015
  • Acting Director, Social Thought & Political Economy, UMass-Amherst, 2012-13
  • Associate Professor of Economics and Public Policy, UMass-Amherst, 2005-2011
  • Fulbright Fellow, Institute of Sociology and Social Policy, Corvinus University, Budapest, Hungary, 2007
  • Fulbright Fellow, Center for Environmental Policy and Law, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, 2007
  • Assistant Professor of Economics and Public Policy, UMass-Amherst, 1999-2005
  • Princeton Project 55 Fellow, Trenton Office of Policy Studies, Trenton, NJ 1991-1992
  • Staff Labor Economist, Council of Economic Advisers, 1995-1996

Research Interests: 

  • Environment
  • Health
  • Health Disparities
  • Labor


  • Capstone in Public Policy and Administration
  • Econometrics
  • Economic Instruments for Greenhouse Gas Mitigation
  • Economics of Health
  • Graduate Applied Econometrics
  • Health and Environmental Inequality Module for Social Inequality and Social Justice
  • Introduction to Political Economy: Social Wealth
  • Labor in the American Economy
  • Intermediate Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics for Public Policy
  • Policy Analysis
  • Political Economy of the Environment and Environmental Policy
  • Political Economy of Public Policy
  • Statistics for Public Policy and Administration

Honors and Awards: 

  • Outstanding Accomplishment in Research Award, UMass-Amherst, 2014
  • Most Important Economic Developments of 2013 (Bloomberg), 2013
  • Wonky Award (Washington Post), 2013
  • 2013 Albie for best political economy writing (Foreign Policy)
  • Foreign Policy 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2013
  • College Outstanding Teaching Award, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, UMass-Amherst, 2011
  • Wayne F. Placek Award, American Psychological Foundation (2002)

Professional Activities: 

  • Staff Economist, Center for Popular Economics, 1999-2011  
  • Board member, Center for Environmental Policy and Law, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, 2005-09 


  • 2011 "Collaborative Research on the Correlates and Consequences of Risks from Airborne Toxics: Dynamic Spatial Analysis." National Science Foundation (Two-year project, total budget $338,548; UMass budget $90,370). Principal Investigator Paul Mohai, University of Michigan; Ash is a Co-PI.
  • 2010 "Economic Impact of Spending on Public Higher Education in Massachusetts." Ash was Principal Investigator on research grant from the Massachusetts Society of Professors. $15,000.
  • 2010 "An assessment methodology for differential impact on environmental justice populations of releases of industrial toxics to water in Massachusetts." Ash was Principal Investigator on U.S. Geological Survey's Water Resources Annual Institute Program for Fiscal Year 2010. $5,000.
  • 2010 "Toxic Air Pollution, Infant Health, and Disparities by Race and Class" Ash was Principal Investigator on a TeraGrid Allocation.
  • 2007 "Hospital Unions, Staffing, Wages, and Patient Safety," Principal Investigator Joanne Spetz, UCSF, National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01. Ash was a sub-contractor with a three-year budget of $144,256.
  • 2002 "Health Insurance Inequality for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual People." (with M.V. Lee Badgett) Ash M was Principal Investigator for the Wayne F. Placek Award, American Psychological Foundation, $35,700.


  • American Economic Association
  • Union for Radical Political Economics
  • Association of Environmental and Resource Economists
  • International Association for Feminist Economics
  • Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management
  • International Society for Ecological Economics


  • 2015 "Critical Replication as a Method of Learning and Improving Economic Science." Invited talk, Department of Economics, Universita degli studi Roma Tre (Italy) 19 May.
  • 2015 Ash M, Basu D, Dube A (alphabetical order). "New Research on Public Debt and Growth, A Critical Replication of Several Papers from 2010{2012." Invited talk, Department of Economics, Universita degli studi Roma Tre (Italy) 18 May.
  • 2015 Ash M, Basu D, Dube A (alphabetical order). "Public Debt and Growth: Assessing Key Findings on Causality and Thresholds." INFER Conference, University of Coimbra (Portugal) 18 April.
  • 2014 Critical Replication for Learning and Research, Department of Mathematical Sciences, DePaul University, Chicago, IL. 25 April.
  • 2014 Critical Replication for Learning and Research, Quantitative Methods Core Methods Seminar, University of Massachusetts Medical School Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, Worcester, MA. 1 April.
  • 2014 Transformational Voices: An Afternoon with Leading Global Thinkers, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, Denver, CO. 6 March.

Selected Publications: 

  • 2014 Zwickl K, Ash M, Boyce J. "Regional variation in environmental inequality: Industrial air toxics exposure in U.S. cities." Ecological Economics 107: 494-509.
  • 2014 Herndon T, Ash M, Pollin R.  "Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff." Cambridge Journal of Economics 38(2): 257-279. First published online December 24, 2013.
  • 2013 Ash M, Boyce JK, Chang G, Scharber H (alphabetical order).  "Is Environmental Justice Good for White Folks?" Social Science Quarterly 94(3): 616{636. Early view published 22 June.
  • 2011 Seago JA, Spetz J, Ash M, Herrera C, Keane D.  "Hospital RN job satisfaction and nurse unions." Journal of Nursing Administration, Mar 41(3):109-14.
  • 2011 Spetz J, Ash M, Konstantinidis C, Herrera C. "The effect of unions on the distribution of wages of hospital-employed registered nurses in the United States." Journal of Clinical Nursing Jan;20(1-2):60-7.
  • 2010 Ash M, Boyce J (alphabetical order). "Measuring Corporate Environmental Justice Performance." Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management 238
  • 2009 Ash JM, Ash M, Ash P (alphabetical order). "Constructing a quadrilateral inside another one." Mathematical Gazette, 93: 52-62.
  • 2009 Ash M, Robinson D.  "Inequality, race, and mortality in U.S. cities: A political and econometric review of Deaton and Lubotsky" Social Science and Medicine 68(11): 1909-1913.
  • 2009 Ash M, Arons S.  "Economic Parameters of End-of-Life Care: Some policy implications in an era of health care reform" Western New England Law Review 31(2):305{332.
  • 2008 Ferjentsik V, Ash M.  "An EU sky trust: Can a lower-income country afford climate policy" Environmental Liability 16(5): 183-187.
  • 2008 Gupta S, Ash M. "Whose Money, Whose Time? A Nonparametric Approach to Modeling Time Spent on Housework in the United States.'' Feminist Economics 14(1).
  • 2006. Ash M, Badgett MVL (alphabetical order). "Separate and Unequal: The Effect of Unequal Access to Employment-Based Health Insurance on Same-Sex and Different-Sex Couples.'' Contemporary Economic Policy 24(4).
  • 2006. Ash M, Brandt S (alphabetical order). "Disparities in Asthma Hospitalization in Massachusetts,'' American Journal of Public Health 96(2).