Alicia Modestino

Alicia Modestino

Associate Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Economics; Associate Director, Dukakis Center at Northeastern University
WAPPP Fellow
Alicia Modestino


Alicia Sasser Modestino is an Associate Professor with appointments in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the Department of Economics at Northeastern University. Since 2015, Dr. Modestino has also served as the Associate Director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy. She is also a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and an invited researcher of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at MIT. Previously, Modestino was a Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston where she led numerous research projects on regional economic and policy issues.

Modestino’s research has focused on gender dynamics in the labor market including several studies on the impact of career and family responsibilities on the gender wage gap. Her work has been published in leading peer-reviewed publications including Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of Human Resources, Labour Economics, Health Affairs, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, and Regional Science and Urban Economics. Dr. Modestino’s research has also been covered extensively in the media including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Bloomberg, the Christian Science Monitor, Politico, and Vox. She has appeared on NPR’s On Point, WBUR’s Radio Boston, NBC News and Fox25 News.

As a WAPP Research Fellow, Dr. Modestino will be pursuing two projects. The first is a new line of research that that examines implicit bias within the economics profession by studying gender differences in seminar dynamics. She has collected data across a variety of professional settings including job market talks, department seminars, and professional conferences that captures every interaction between the speaker and the audience, including the gender and seniority of those making interjections, and the type and tenor of their question or comment. Using this data, she will explore whether women experience disparate treatment during seminars and how this translates into disparate impact for female economists in terms of job placement.

The second project will study household decision making regarding work/caregiving arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic, a period during which there has been a large and unexpected shock to the availability of childcare. Using longitudinal data collected through a national panel survey, Dr. Modestino will study changes in household work and childcare arrangements and the gender differences in time spent on activities before, during, and after the economic disruption caused by the pandemic. She will also study the impact of changes in work and caregiving on mental health, parental stress, and attitudes towards policies and practices that support working families. Modestino holds both a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, where she also served as a doctoral fellow in the Inequality and Social Policy Program at the Kennedy School of Government.

Research Topic

Economics, labor economics, public policy