Andrew Foster

Economics and Health Services, Policy and Practice
Phone: +1 401 863 2537

Andrew Foster studies household and family economics, health economics, economic development, environmental economics, and economic demography.


Andrew Foster, Professor of Economics, Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice, and Director of the Population Studies and Training Center received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1988. He is an empirical microeconomist with interests in the areas of population, environment, development, and health. Recent work has examined economic growth in rural India, exploring such issues as growth in the non-farm economy, the effects of local democratization, groundwater usage, forest cover, household structure, inequality, and schooling. He also is exploring the effects of recent changes in air quality in Delhi. Foster also has a series of projects with colleagues in the Center for Gerentology examining the market for nursing home care.


Andrew Foster is a professor of the Department of Economics, a professor of Health Services Policy and Practice and a research investigator in the Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University. He came to Brown from the University of Pennsylvania in 1998. He is a specialist in empirical microeconomics and has worked in a variety of population-related fields of economics, including health, development, environment, public, and labor.

Perhaps the most prominent new element of Foster's research portfolio in the last five years has been in the area of population and the environment in India. He has three major projects in this area:
(1) Foster and his collaborator, M.R. Rosenzweig of Harvard's Kennedy School, published a paper in 2003 examining possible mechanisms for a reversal in forest cover declines in India during the 1980s and early 1990s. The paper makes use of a 30-year panel representative sample of rural India, which they in part designed and implemented as part of a 10-year funded (NIH HD30907, NSF SBR93-08405, World Bank ) project examining economic growth in rural India; it also integrates remote sensing data on vegetative cover. The paper argues that, in the context of a relatively closed economy like that in India at the time, higher population growth and agricultural productivity may result in increased forest cover in order to meet increased demand for paper and wood products. More recent research has focused on whether these effects are stronger or weaker in areas with commonly owned forest lands.
(2) Foster and Rosenzweig have recently begun a project on groundwater management in India. While groundwater has played a critical role in increasing irrigated area and thus the adoption of high-yielding variety seeds in rural India, there is substantial concern about whether these advances can be sustained in the face of pumping-induced declines in the water table in certain regions. In a recent working paper, they integrate a simple geological relationship known as Darcy's Law into an economic model of water extraction and use this model to structure an analysis of a data on tubewell construction and depth. The results indicate the presence of a significant trade-off between equity and environmental sustainability that arises from the common-pool nature of groundwater resources.
(3) In a recently funded (NIH) project, Foster is collaborating with Naresh Kumar, who recently accepted a tenure-track position at the University of Iowa after serving as an assistant professor (research) in the PSTC, on a project examining the health and distributional consequences of recent court-induced policy interventions that have had a marked impact on air quality in Delhi, India. Preliminary results from the initial of two planned rounds of a survey in Delhi indicate that accounting for changing residential and commuting patterns can have a marked effect on one's assessment of the impact of these interventions. The initial round of the survey was financed in large part using a seed grant from the PSTC.

In addition to his work on population and environment, Foster has continued to examine issues in care of the aging in both developed and developing countries. He recently received funding (NIH) for a joint project with Vince Mor and Orna Intrator at Brown's Center for Gerentology to examine the effects of state-based employment mandates on turnover, worker quality, and – ultimately – patient outcomes in U.S. nursing homes. This work builds importantly on previous work Foster has done on imperfect information in labor markets, and it integrates a general-equilibrium search model. A key contribution of this work is the recognition of the importance of distinguishing between the direct effects of turnover on patient outcomes and the indirect effects that arise because higher turnover affects average worker quality.

Other recent areas of interest for Foster include: the effects of intra-family contact on altruistic behavior; the consequences for child human capital of marital sorting; a study of the role of non-farm growth in determining inter- and intra-village inequality in India; a study of the consequences of the effects of family-limitation rules in China (joint with sociologist Susan Short ); examinations, in his role as a graduate advisor, of lowest-low fertility in Europe; of immigrant inter-marriage in the United States; of marriage-migration interactions; and of moral hazard arising in intra-family transfers.




Dorothy Thomas Award, Population Association of America, 1987

Fellowship, Population Council, 1986-1988

Fellowship, National Science Foundation, 1983-1986

Summa Cum Laude, Princeton University, 1983

Thesis Prize, Civil Engineering, Princeton University, 1983


Bureau of Research and Economic Analysis of Development conference organizer, 2004

National Academy of Science, Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change, member, 2004-present

Econometric Society, summer meetings Organizing Committee, 2004

National Institutes of Health, SSPS Review Committee, permanent member, 2002-present

National Institutes of Health, Population Center Grant Review Committee, 2003

National Academy of Science, Workshop on Research on Population, Land Use and Enviornment

Bureau of Research and Economic Analysis of Development, board member, 2002-present

Social Science Research Council, Economics Advisory Committee meeting, 2002

National Academy of Science, Committee on "Leveraging longitudinal data in developing countries." 2001

National Institutes of Health, Demographic and Behavioral Sciences Branch, Agenda Setting Committee, 2001

National Institute of Child Health and Development, Program Project Review, 2000

National Institutes of Health, Demographic and Behavioral Sciences Branch, Agenda Setting Committee, 1999

National Institute of Aging, Program Project Review, 1998

National Institute of Aging, Study Section, 1997

IUSSP Committee on Economic Demography, 1992-1993

Committee on Demographic Effects of Structural Adjustment Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa, National Research Council, 1990-91

Expert Group on the Economic Consequences of Health in Developing Countries, National Research Council, 1990

Social Science Advisory Group, International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research in Bangladesh,1990

Dorothy Thomas Prize Committee, Population Association of America, 1989-1992


I teach in the areas of economic development, health, and population.

Funded Research

2004-2007: National Institute of Aging, "Impact of Changing Medicaid Policies on Nursing Home Quality." PI – Vince Mor, 5%.

2004-2005: National Institute of Child Health and Development, "Air Quality and Health in Delhi." PI – Naresh Kumar, 10%.

2002-2004: World Bank, "Rural Non-farm Activity in India." PI – Andrew Foster, $10,000.

2002-2008: National Institute of Child Health and Development, "Training in Demography." PI – Andrew Foster, 5%.

2003-2005: Mellon Foundation, "Migration and Urbanization." PI – S. Short, 5%.

2003-2005: National Science Foundation, "Family Disruption, Family Response: Social Change, Family Organization and Child Well-Being in Southern Africa." PI – S. Short, 5%.

2003-2005: Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, "Market and provider effects on hospice in nursing homes." PI – P. Gozalo, 5%.

2001-2002: National Institute of Aging, "Influence of aging on U.S. energy consumption." PI – B. O'Neill, 2000-2001, $50,000, 10%.

2001-2002: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, "Access to Hospice for Nursing Home Residents." PI – P. Gozalo, $50,000, 1%.

2000-2003: Pew Charitable Trust, "The Moral and Social Dimensions of Microeconomic Behavior in Low Income Countries" (subcontract from Cornell University). PI – A.D. Foster, $5000, 2%.

2000-2002: National Science Foundation, "Demographic Effects of Economic Change." PI – A.D. Foster, $48,189, 11%.

1999-2004: National Institute of Child Health and Development, "The Demographic Effects of Agricultural Development" (subcontract from University of Pennsylvania) PI – A.D. Foster, $87,245, 25%.

1999-2002: National Institute of Child Health and Development, "Population Policy and Child Well Being." PI – S. Short, $83,671, 10%.

1999-2000: National Institute of Aging, "Health, Quality of Care, and Nursing Home Choice." PI – A.D. Foster, $50,000, 25%.

1998-2003: National Institute of Child Health and Development, "Area Based Socioeconomic Measures for Health Data." PI – N. Krieger, 1%.

1998-2000: Robert Woods Johnson, "Disability and Home Care Technology." PI – Susan Allen, $49,569, 10%.

Web Links