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Brandyn Churchill - University of Massachusetts Amherst. Amherst, MA, US

Brandyn Churchill

Assistant Professor of Resource Economics | University of Massachusetts Amherst


Brandyn Churchill's research examines the roles of information and cost in shaping health care decisions.

Expertise (7)

sunscreen laws

Beauty Pageants

Public Policy

Health Economics

Labor Economics

Economic Demography

Body Mass Index


Brandy Churchill's research examines the roles of information and cost in shaping health care decisions and explores how public policies and social comparisons shape self-image, attitudes toward beauty and weight-related behaviors.

Churchill's recent work has examined the effect of beauty pageant news coverage on body image in adolescents, the impact of SUNucate laws on use of sunscreen and the mixed results when schools require body mass assessment.

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The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Vulnerable Populations


Education (3)

Vanderbilt University: Ph.D., Economics

San Diego State University: M.A., Economics

Washington and Lee University: B.A., Economics

Select Media Coverage (4)

UMass Study: Pros, Cons in Required School BMI Assessments

Mirage News  online


A University of Massachusetts Amherst resource economist finds mandated in-school Body Mass Index (BMI) assessments adopted in varying forms by 24 states to combat childhood obesity have the potential to improve the health of some students while introducing body-image issues for others. The research is believed to be the first to assess these policies as a whole, rather than in single states or school districts.

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Research suggests beauty pageant news coverage worsens body image among teens, young women

New England Public Media  online


Research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Vanderbilt University found that adolescent girls and young women exposed to beauty pageant news coverage were more likely to feel bad about their bodies, particularly when their home state contestant won. UMass researcher Brandyn Churchill, a health economist, said the results were not surprising – as many people assume exposure to a thin-ideal could affect body image. But comparing old news coverage of Miss America and Miss USA pageants to adolescent health surveys taken around the same time and place allowed them to pinpoint cause and effect.

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'There she is, your ideal': The ramifications of a home-state beauty pageant crown

Medical Xpress  online


Brandyn Churchill, assistant professor of resource economics at UMass Amherst, and Christopher Carpenter, E. Bronson Ingram professor of economics at Vanderbilt University, examined which states won the Miss America and Miss U.S. pageants during the 1990s and early 2000s. They found that winning states experienced increases in pageant-related media coverage and Google searches following the competition, compared with non-winning states.

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Calling the Shots: Should Employers Mandate COVID Vaccines?

Tradeoffs  online


Finding: A forthcoming study by Vanderbilt PhD candidate Brandyn Churchill found that when the Washington D.C. City Council required parents to opt their daughters out of getting the HPV vaccine every year as opposed to just once before sixth grade, it led to an 11 percentage point increase in the number of girls getting vaccinated and a 9 percentage point decrease in the number of girls who only received the first shot of the multi-dose vaccine series.

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Select Publications (5)

State‐mandated school‐based BMI assessments and self‐reported adolescent health behaviors

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management

Brandyn F. Churchill


I provide novel evidence on the role of imperfect information in shaping childhood obesity. Between 2003 and 2017, 24 states began requiring schools to perform Body Mass Index assessments on students.

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State SUNucate Laws, the Popularity of Google Searches for Terms Related to Sun Protection, and Youth Sunscreen Use

Health Behavior and Policy Review


Our objective was to determine whether state SUNucate laws – which have been adopted by 27 states and require schools to permit youths to carry and apply sunscreen on school grounds – were associated with changes in Google Search behavior for words and phrases related to sun protection as well as self-reported sunscreen use by youths.

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“There She Is, Your Ideal” Negative Social Comparisons and Health Behaviors

National Bureau of Economic Research


We provide novel evidence on the role of negative social comparisons in population health behaviors by exploiting variation in Miss America and Miss USA beauty pageant winners. We show that there was more front-page newspaper coverage and more pageant-related internet search behavior following a home-state win. Teen girls and pageant-aged women with home-state winners were more likely to report that they were trying to lose weight, and pregnant women gained less gestational weight.

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Bad lighting: Effects of youth indoor tanning prohibitions

Journal of Health Economics


Indoor tanning beds (ITBs) emit UV light at high intensity and have been classified as carcinogenic to humans by the World Health Organization since 2009. We are the first to study the role of state laws prohibiting youths from indoor tanning using a difference-in-differences research design. We find that youth ITB prohibitions reduced population search intensity for tanning-related information. Among white teen girls, ITB prohibitions reduced self-reported indoor tanning and increased sun protective behaviors.

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The effect of e-verify laws on crime

ILR Review


E-Verify laws, which have been adopted by 23 states, require employers to verify whether new employees are eligible to legally work prior to employment. This study explores the impact of state E-Verify laws on crime. Using data from the 2004–2015 National Incident Based Reporting System, the authors find that the enactment of E-Verify is associated with a 7% reduction in property crime incidents involving Hispanic arrestees.

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