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SBCA Outstanding Dissertation Award

Law and Economics | News | Law School | Vanderbilt University


Clayton J. Masterman

Dr. Mastermans dissertation, "An Empirical Analysis of Policy Responses to the Opioid Epidemic," (Vanderbilt University,  2019) comprises three essays on opioid addiction and public policies dealing with opioid abuse. The first essay covers the effects of  naloxone access laws, showing how a set of policies generates large net benefits. The second essay estimates the effectiveness of Food and Drug Administration boxed warnings on abuse of extended-release prescription opioids. The third essay provides evidence that opioid abuse has increased workplace injuries, a surprising finding with policy implications. The dissertation displays policy evaluation and benefit-cost analysis at its best.  

About the Award

The Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis [SBCA] has established an annual award for the best Ph.D. thesis dealing with the theory and/or practice of benefit-cost analysis. 

The award is intended to recognize outstanding work by promising new researchers in the field. The award is accompanied by a $1,000 cash prize and the winner will be recognized at the SBCA annual meeting. In addition, recipients will be encouraged to submit a paper based on their dissertation to the Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis. The paper will undergo the standard journal peer-review process.

The range of topics for candidate dissertations cover those of interest to the SBCA, including both theory and application of economic evaluation methods. Relevant methods include, but are not limited to:

  • Benefit-cost analysis
  • Cost-effectiveness analysis
  • Cost analysis
  • Regulatory impact analysis
  • Risk-benefit analysis
  • Applied welfare economic analysis
  • Damage assessments

For applied research, illustrative substantive areas include: 

  • Civil and criminal justice
  • Education and training
  • Energy, natural resources, and environment
  • Finance and financial markets
  • Food and agriculture
  • Health, health insurance, and health care
  • International trade and development
  • Safety and security
  • Social welfare programs
  • Transportation and infrastructure
  • Workforce and workplace.

The dissertation may be primarily focused on the theory and/or application of benefit-cost analysis, or it may be contained in a portion of the work (e.g., a subset of the chapters of the dissertation or one paper of a multi-paper dissertation).

Submissions will be reviewed by a Selection Committee appointed by the SBCA Board of Directors. Submissions will be evaluated based on the quality of the methodological work (theoretical or empirical), the contributions to the field, the quality of the exposition, and the relevance for policy.


A dissertation will be eligible if it was successfully defended between October 1, 2018 and September 30, 2020 and has not previously been considered for the award. Eligible dissertations must have been accepted by an accredited institution of higher education in any country in fulfillment of a doctoral degree. The degree field is not limited to economics. Dissertations must be written in English.

Instructions for Submission

To apply, submit the following package of materials by email with the subject line: Attention: SBCA Dissertation Award Committee to

  • A statement indicating the applicants name; the date, degree, and institution of the defended dissertation; and a url from which a pdf of the dissertation submission can be downloaded.
  • A 1,000-word statement from the applicant identifying the relevant portion(s) of the dissertation that should be considered for the award and the applicability of the work given the criteria noted above.
  • A signed nomination letter from the dissertation committee chair or another committee member explaining the dissertations originality and contribution to the field (pdf file preferred).
  • The applicants CV (pdf file preferred).

Submissions are due on March 15, 2021, by 5:00 pm Eastern time. Applicants will receive an acknowledgment that their submission was received and will be notified of the outcome by early December.


If you have any questions, please contact the Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis at

Award Recipients