Panka Bencsik


I am an incoming Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University (Fall 2022) with a joint appointment in the Department of Medicine, Health, and Society and the Program in Public Policy Studies. Currently, I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Chicago, Urban Labs.

An applied microeconomist, I have research interests in public economics, health economics, the economics of crime, and urban economics. I study the impacts of the opioid crisis, what influences nutritional choices, how individuals' mental health is impacted by external stressors, and how health carries forward intergenerationally. Additionally, I study the impact of the US criminal justice system, including how policies can simultaneously avert incarceration and increase public safety. In my research, I combine causal inference with addressing policy-relevant questions. See my CV here.

At the University of Chicago, Urban Labs, my research portfolio includes topics such as the intersection of policing and mental health, substance use treatment, gun violence in Chicago, and populations engaging in risky behaviors.

I am the founder of the Mental Health Economics Special Interest Group of iHEA. See more here and here.

You can reach me at

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