Panka Bencsik


I am an Assistant Professor of Medicine, Health, and Society and of Public Policy at Vanderbilt University. Additionally, I am a faculty affiliate at the Vanderbilt Center for Research on Inequality and Health.

I am an applied microeconomist, and my research covers the fields of health economics, crime economics, and public economics. Broadly, much of my work is motivated by advancing our understanding of the stubborn problems of America—problems that adversely impact a large number of Americans but where progress has persistently been limited. My current research focuses on policy-relevant academic inquiry on topics related to the opioid crisis, mental health, incarceration, and gun violence. I have published in well-known peer reviewed outlets, such as the Journal of Health Economics. My work has been covered by major media outlets, including The Economist and the Chicago Tribune, and by policymakers, such as the Mayor’s Office of Chicago and the California Law Revision Commission. Additionally, I served as the founding leader of the world’s largest research hub on mental health economics.

Before joining Vanderbilt University, I received my PhD in economics from the University of Sussex and was a Fulbright Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. Subsequently, I was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Chicago, Urban Labs, where I remain an affiliate.

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Name pronounced as: Pankasounds like Bianca or Blanca; Bencsiksounds like Ben-chick (as in chickpeas)