Richard Zeckhauser

Frank Plumpton Ramsey Professor of Political Economy
Harvard Kennedy School
Office Address
Mailing Address
John F. Kennedy School of Government
Mailbox 41
79 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone: 617-495-1174
Fax: 617-384-9340
Email: richard_zeckhauser@Harvard.Edu
Wendy Wyatt (617-495-1175)
Richard Zeckhauser


Richard Zeckhauser is the Frank P. Ramsey Professor of Political Economy, Kennedy School, Harvard University. He graduated from Harvard College (summa cum laude) and received his Ph.D. there. He is an elected fellow of the Econometric Society, the Institute of Medicine (National Academy of Sciences), and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2014, he was named a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association. His contributions to decision theory and behavioral economics include the concepts of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), status quo bias, betrayal aversion, and ignorance (states of the world unknown) as a complement to the categories of risk and uncertainty. Many of his policy investigations explore ways to promote the health of human beings, to help markets work more effectively, and to foster informed and appropriate choices by individuals and government agencies. Zeckhauser has published over 300 articles. His recent coauthored books are The Patron's Payoff: Conspicuous Commissions in Italian Renaissance Art (2008), and Collaborative Governance: Private Roles for Public Goals (2011). Apart from academics, Zeckhauser is a Senior Principal at Equity Resource Investments, a real estate private equity firm. He has won multiple national championships in contract bridge.



  • API-302 Analytic Frameworks for Policy
  • API-902 Doctoral Research Seminar

Media Expertise

Richard Zeckhauser welcomes media inquiries on the following subjects:

Additional experts may be found by clicking on each subject listed. You may contact faculty directly or if you need assistance contact the Communications Office at 617-495-1115.


For a complete list of faculty citations from 2001 - present, please visit the HKS Faculty Research Connection.

Selected Publication Citations:

  • Academic Journal/Scholarly Articles
    • Zeckhauser, Richard. "Human Hunters and Nonhuman Predators: Fundamental Differences." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114.1 (January 2017): 13-14.
    • Rogers, Todd, Richard Zeckhauser, Francesca Gino, Michael I. Norton, and Maurice E. Schweitzer. "Artful Paltering: The Risks and Rewards of Using Truthful Statements to Mislead Others." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (December 2016): Online publication.
    • Robinson, Lisa A., James K. Hammitt, and Richard J. Zeckhauser. "Attention to Distribution in U.S. Regulatory Analyses." Review of Environmental Economics and Policy 10.2 (July 2016): 308-328.
    • Roy, Devjani, and Richard Zeckhauser. "Grappling with Ignorance: Frameworks from Decision Theory, Lessons from Literature." Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis 6.1 (March 2015): 33-65.
    • Viscusi, W. Kip, and Richard J. Zeckhauser. "The Relative Weights of Direct and Indirect Experiences in the Formation of Environmental Risk Beliefs." Risk Analysis 35.2 (February 2015): 318-331.
  • Book Chapters
    • Sinaiko, Anna D., and Richard Zeckhauser. "Forced to Choose, Again: The Effects of Defaults on Individuals in Terminated Health Plans." Nudging Health: Health Law and Behavioral Economics. Ed. Cohen, I. Glenn, Holly Fernandez Lynch, and Christopher T. Robertson. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016, 326-338.
    • Fang, Hai, Karen N. Eggleston, John A. Rizzo, Scott Rozelle, and Richard Zeckhauser. "The Returns to Education in China: Evidence from the 1986 Compulsory Education Law." Policy Challenges from Demographic Change in China and India. Ed. Karen Eggleston. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, 2016.
  • Books
    • Donahue, John D. and Richard J. Zeckhauser. Collaborative Governance: Private Roles for Public Goals in Turbulent Times. Princeton University Press, 2011.
    • Zeckhauser, Richard, and Jonathan K. Nelson. The Patron's Payoff: Conspicuous Commissions in Italian Renaissance Art. Princeton University Press, 2008.
    • Schuck, Peter H., and Richard Zeckhauser. Targeting in Social Programs: Avoiding Bad Bets, Removing Bad Apples. Brookings Institution, 2006.
    • Avery, Christopher, Andrew Fairbanks, and Richard Zeckhauser. The Early Admissions Game: Joining the Elite. Harvard University Press, 2003.
  • HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series
    • Dzielinski, Michal, Alexander F. Wagner, and Richard J. Zeckhauser. "Straight Talkers and Vague Talkers: The Effects of Managerial Style in Earnings Conference Calls." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP17-017, May 2017.
    • Wagner, Alexander F., Richard J. Zeckhauser, and Alexandre Ziegler. "Company Stock Reactions to the 2016 Election Shock: Trump, Taxes and Trade." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP17-005, February 2017.
    • Sinaiko, Anna, and Richard Zeckhauser. "Enrollee Choices After Their Health Plans Are Terminated: Default Effects Versus Persistent Preferences." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP16-055, December 2016.
    • Robinson, Lisa A., W. Kip Viscusi, and Richard Zeckhauser. "Efficient Warnings, Not “Wolf or Puppy” Warnings." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP16-033, September 2016: Revised November 2016.
    • Tran, Ngoc-Khanh, Thao Vuong, and Richard Zeckhauser. "Loss Sequencing in Banking Networks: Threatened Banks as Strategic Dominoes." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP16-030, August 2016.

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