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Ben Hansen - University of Oregon. Eugene, OR, US

Ben Hansen

W.E. Miner Chair in Economics | University of Oregon

Eugene, OR, United-States

Professor Hansen researches health, education and labor topics





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Ben Hansen is an expert in risky behaviors, like drug and alcohol abuse, and policies to reduce risk. At the University of Oregon, he is an associate professor of economics, a faculty research fellow for the National Bureau of Economic Research and a fellow of the Institute for the Study of Labor. He has published in leading academic journals in economics, including the American Economic Review, American Economic Journal: Economic Policy and Journal of Law and Economics. Ben has previously investigated DUI punishments and their effects on repeat drunk driving, police employment levels and traffic fatalities, and the public health consequences of medical marijuana laws. His work goes beyond substance abuse and also covers research on bullying and youth suicide, crime, and prison polices and inmate behavior.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Education Labor Economic Policy Health Research

Media Appearances (4)

Oregon's legalization quickly cut Washington border pot sales

Around the O  online


When Oregon’s recreational sales of marijuana took effect, retail sales in Washington counties across the Columbia River dropped 41 percent in just three days, UO researchers report.

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UO prof's work cited in stories on new marijuana research

Around the O  online


The new research found that vehicle fatalities not only didn’t rise when pot was legalized for medical use, some states saw a significant decline. That’s what UO economics professor Benjamin Hansen found in his earlier study.

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Unintended Consequences: How ‘ban the Box’ Backfires for Minority Job-seekers

UVA Today  online


Doleac, an assistant professor of public policy and economics at UVA’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, recently completed a joint study of the effects of “ban the box” policies with University of Oregon Associate Professor of Economics Benjamin Hansen. The results support her initial worries about the policy.

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Marijuana legalization: University of Oregon economist offers positive take on legal pot

The Oregonian  online


Economist Ben Hansen discussed the potential implications for Oregon if voters approve legal recreational marijuana in the November election. Hansen, whose work focuses on the economics of risky behavior, spoke at the Oregon Economic Forum, sponsored by the University of Oregon and held at the Portland Art Museum.

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Articles (5)

Medical marijuana laws and teen marijuana use American Law and Economics Review


Although policymakers and law enforcement officials argue that medical marijuana laws (MMLs) “send the wrong message” to young people, previous studies have produced no evidence of a causal relationship between MMLs and marijuana use among teens. Using data from the national and state Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, and the Treatment Episode Data Set, we revisit this relationship. Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that legalization of medical marijuana leads to increased marijuana use among teenagers.

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Medical marijuana laws, traffic fatalities, and alcohol consumption Journal of Law and Economics


To date, 19 states have passed medical marijuana laws, yet very little is known about their effects. The current study examines the relationship between the legalization of medical marijuana and traffic fatalities, the leading cause of death among Americans ages 5–34. The first full year after coming into effect, legalization is associated with an 8–11 percent decrease in traffic fatalities.

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Are the effects of minimum wage increases always small-new evidence from a case study of New York state ILR Review


The authors estimate the effect of the 2004–6 New York State (NYS) minimum wage increase from $5.15 to $6.75 per hour on the employment rates of 16-to 29-year-olds who do not have a high school diploma. Using data drawn from the 2004 and 2006 Current Population Survey, they employ difference-in-difference estimates to show that the NYS minimum wage increase is associated with a 20.2% to 21.8% reduction in the employment of less-skilled, less-educated workers, with the largest effects on those aged 16 to 24. ...

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Life and death in the fast lane: police enforcement and traffic fatalities Social Sciences Research Network


This paper estimates the causal effect of police on traffic fatalities and injuries. Due to simultaneity, estimating the causal effect of police on crime is often difficult. We overcome this obstacle by focusing on a mass layoff of Oregon State Police in February of 2003, stemming from changes in property tax assessment in the prior decade. Due solely to budget cuts, 35 percent of the roadway troopers were laid off, which dramatically reduced citations. The subsequent decrease in enforcement is associated with a significant increase in injuries and fatalities, with the strongest effects under fair weather conditions outside of city-limits where state police employment levels are most relevant. The effects are similar using control groups chosen either geographically or through data-driven methods. Our estimates suggest that a highway fatality can be prevented with $309,000 of expenditures on state police.

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School year length and student performance: Quasi-experimental evidence Unpublished manuscript. University of California, Santa Barbara


This paper investigates the impact of instructional days on student performance. Because school year length is endogenously determined, I estimate the causal impact of school year length through two quasi-experiments that exploit different sources of variation in instructional days. The first approach identifies school year length's effect through weather-related cancellations in Colorado and Maryland.

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