Economist Aparna Mathur Named to White House Council of Economic Advisers
Aparna Mathur MA ’01 PhD ’05 has always believed economics can serve as a bridge across stark political and ideological divides. She will now have a chance to put that theory to the ultimate test in her new position as a Senior Economist on the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
Charged with offering the President of the United States objective, evidence-based economic advice to form domestic and international policy, the Council’s current focus is figuring out how to help the country deal with both the health and economic costs of COVID-19.
“While I have generally worked on issues relating to labor markets and tax policy, the current Coronavirus crisis requires understanding everything from epidemiological models that predict cases and fatalities to GDP and unemployment impacts of the enforced social distancing measures,” Mathur said. “This will be a real test of my training as an economist and social scientist and I am looking forward to giving it my very best shot.”
Since 2005, Mathur has worked at Washington, DC-based think-tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI). There she has conducted research on a variety of complex problems facing the U.S. economy, including income inequality and mobility, tax policy, labor markets and small businesses. A joint project she co-directed with the Brookings Institute on paid family and medical leave earned her a spot on Politico’s 2017 list of Top 50 Ideas Blowing Up American Politics (and the People Behind Them). Mathur was also invited to the White House to present recommendations to Ivanka Trump and her team of advisors about what paid family leave could look like in the U.S.
“I’ve been able to look at issues not necessarily from an ideological perspective,” Mathur said. “I like to get my hands dirty with data and looking at the world through that lens. I credit a lot of that to my time at Maryland.”
Mathur’s passion for economics began in the early 1990s when her home country of India was facing its own economic crisis. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics at Delhi University in India before coming to the United States to earn a master’s and doctoral degree from the Department of Economics at the University of Maryland. Mathur currently serves on UMD’s Economic Leadership Council and was previously an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.
Ever confident in the power of economics to provide solutions and explanations for issues long deemed unsolvable by modern politics, Mathur says she is optimistic her field can help the United States fight through the unprecedented challenge of recovering from a global pandemic.
“It is an amazing professional and personal honor for me to be able to contribute in any way possible to helping the nation deal with this once-in-a-century event,” she said.
This story was originally published April 13, 2020.