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Isaac Ehrlich

SUNY Distinguished Professor
UB Distinguished Professor
Finance and Managerial Economics Department
Economics Department Chair, College of Arts and Sciences


PhD (with Distinction), Columbia University
BA (Cum Laude), Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Research Interests and Activities

Dr. Ehrlich's research interests include general applications of economic theory to law and economics, crime and justice, human capital and health economics, advertising and information, uncertainty and insurance, social security, and economic growth and development. He is the author of 80 original and reprinted articles in major refereed journals and collections, including two books and a special journal issue, and his widely cited work–he is listed among the 100 most cited economists on several published surveys–has been supported by numerous grants from the National Science Foundation and other Federal agencies, including a major USAID grant to study economic development and the role of free enterprise. In 2006, Dr. Ehrlich was awarded the prestigious faculty development grant from the New York Office of Science, Technology, and Academic research (NYSTAR), which he is using to establish a “Signature center of Excellence on Human Capital, technology transfer, and Economic growth and Development”. He holds a Ph.D. degree from Columbia University.

Professor Ehrlich currently serves as Chairman of the Department of Economics in the College of Arts and Sciences and as Melvin H. Baker Professor of American Enterprise in the School of Management. He is also a Research Associate (currently a senior title) of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), an Honorary Professor at the City University of Hong Kong, a Research Associate of the Institute of Policy Analysis of the University of Toronto, and a member of the prestigious Mont Pellerin Society.

His previous academic affiliations include appointments as a lecturer at the Tel-Aviv University, an Associate Professor at the University of Chicago, and a Senior Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, where he was one of the founders of the Law and Economics Project. He has also been a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, and a Visiting Professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He has given numerous public lectures and seminars in Austria, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Uruguay.

Professor Ehrlich is listed in the prestigious first edition of Who's Who in Economics: A Biographical Dictionary of Major Economists 1700-1980, and all of its later updates, and has contributed entries on Crime and Punishment and the Economics of Criminal Justice in all editions of The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics, and The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics and the Law. His public service activities include membership on President Ronald Reagan’s Health Policy Advisory Group and the Transition Team on Health Policy, and the Hong Kong Government's Health Services Committee and its Expert Subcommittee on Grant Applications and Awards, headed by Hon. Elizabeth Wong, Secretary of Health and Welfare in Governor Chris Patton’s Administration.

In recognition of his scholarly contributions Professor Ehrlich was promoted in March 2006 to the rank of SUNY Distinguished Professor, the highest academic rank in the SUNY system. He was previously promoted to the new rank of UB Distinguished Professor in 2002. He has also been awarded an Honorary Doctorate (Docteur Honoris Causa) from the University of Orleans, France, in Fall 2002.

Previous Academic Positions

Academic Honors

Grants and Awards

Professional Activities

General Activities

International Activities

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

"Market Insurance, Self-Insurance and Self-Protection" (with G. Becker), lead article, Journal of Political Economy (July-August 1972).

"Participation in Illegitimate Activities--A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation", lead article, Journal of Political Economy (May-June 1973).

"The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment--A Question of Life and Death", American Economic Review (June 1975).

"Asset Management, Allocation of Time and Returns to Savings" (with U. Ben-Zion), Economic Inquiry (December 1976).

"Capital Punishment and Deterrence: Some Further Thoughts and Additional Evidence", Journal of Political Economy Aug, 1977.

"On the Usefulness of Controlling Individuals:An Economic Analysis of Rehabilitation, Incapacitation and Deterrence", American Economic Review (June 1981).

"The Derived Demand for Advertising: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation" (with L. Fisher), American Economic Review (June 1982).

"The Optimum Enforcement of Laws and the Concept of Justice: A Positive Analysis", lead article, International Review of Law and Economics (June 1982).

"On the Issue of Causality in Crime Control" (with G. Brower),American Economic Review (May 1987).

"The Demand for Longevity and the Value of Life Extension" (with H. Chuma), Journal of Political Economy (August 1990).

"The Problem of Development-Introduction" Journal of Political Economy (October 1990).

"Intergenerational Trade, Longevity, and Economic Growth" (with F. Lui), Journal of Political Economy (October 1991).

"Productivity Growth and Firm Ownership" (with G. Gallais-Hamonno, R. Lutter and Z. Liu), Journal of Political Economy (October 1994).

"Optimal Portfolio and Consumption Decisions in a Stochastic Environment with Precommitment" (with W.A. Hamlen, Jr.), lead article, Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control(April 1995).

"Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses", Journal of Economic Perspectives (Winter 1996).

"Social Security and the Real Economy: An Inquiry into Some neglected Issues" (with J. Zhong), American Economic Review (May 1998).

"Social Security, the Family, and Economic Growth" (with F. Lui), Economic Inquiry (July 1998).

"Sensitivity Analyses of the Deterrence Hypothesis: Let's Keep the Econ in Econometrics" (with Z. Liu), Journal of Law and Economics (April 1999).

"Bureaucratic Corruption and Economic growth", with F. T. Lui, Journal of Political Economy (October 1999).

"Uncertain Lifetime, Life Protection, and the Value of Life Saving", Journal of Health Economics (May 2000).

“The Growth-Inequality Nexus without Borrowing Restrictions or Government Intervention: Some Implications from a Prototype Model”, with C.W. Yuen, Annals of Economics and Finance Vol. 1, December 2000, 283-301.

"Social Security: From Pay-As-You-Go Systems to an Individual-Based Capitalization System" (text in English; title in Spanish: Prevision social: de los regimens de reparto a los de capitalizacion individual). Published as part of a three articles series ("Conferencias"), along with contributions by Gary Becker and Joseph Stiglitz. Revista de Ciencias Empresariales Y Economia, vol 2 (2003).

“Endogenous Fertility, Longevity, and Economic Dynamics: Using a Malthusian Framework to Account for the Historical Evidence on Population and Economic Growth”, with Jinyoung Kim, Journal of Asian Economics, issue 15 (6) 2005, 789-806.

“Explaining Diversities in Age-Specific Life Expectancies and Values of Life Saving: A Numerical Analysis”, with Yong Yin, Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 31(2) 2005, 129-162.

“Economics of Crime” in The Encyclopedia of law and Society, edited by David S. Clark, Sage Publications, CA: Thousand Oaks, 2006.

“Economics of Deterrence – Theory” in The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd edition, edited by Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume, Palgrave Macmillan (Basingstoke and New York), forthcoming, 2008.

"Why Does Human Capital Need a Journal?", with Kevin M. Murphy, Journal of Human Capital, inaugural issue, vol. 1, Winter 2007

"The Evolution of Income and Fertility Inequalities Over the Course of Economic Development: A Human Capital Perspective", with Jinyoung Kim, Journal of Human Capital, inaugural issue, vol. 1, Winter 2007

Books and Collections 


The Mystery of Capital and the New Philosophy of Social Reality (tentative title), co-editor (with Barry Smith and David Mark), Open Court Publishing Company, Chicago, June, 2008.

The Economics of Crime (editor, with Z. Liu). A three volume book of readings on the subject. Selected as part of the collection: "International Library of Critical Writings in Economics" (Mark Blaug, general editor), Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd. London, England. In press, forthcoming, 2006.

National Health Policy: What Role for Government (editor), Proceedings of the Conference on National Health Policy held at Stanford University in March of 1980, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1982.

The Problem of Development (editor), Journal of Political Economy (October 1990).

National Health Policy: What Role for Government (editor), Proceedings of the Conference on National Health Policy held at Stanford University in March of 1980, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1982.

The Problem of Development (editor), Journal of Political Economy (October 1990).

For the collection of papers and articles in his current research interests, please visit the following pages:


Contact Information

Isaac Ehrlich
SUNY Distinguished Professor
Finance and Managerial Economics
School of Management
University at Buffalo
238 Jacobs Management Center
Buffalo, NY 14260-4000

Tel: 716-645-3287