hero image
Sean Mulholland - Western Carolina University. Cullowhee, NC, US

Sean Mulholland Sean Mulholland

Professor | Western Carolina University


Sean Mulholland research interests include human capital and economic growth, white supremacist groups and hate crimes.





loading image loading image


Sean Mulholland Working More to Earn Less | Why the Poor Stay Poor | Learn Liberty Is there Income Mobility in America?


Johnny Rocket Launch Pad #48: Sean E. Mulholland



Mulholland is a Professor of Economics at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. He has published research articles on a wide variety of topics, including human capital and economic growth, white supremacist groups and hate crimes, school competition and student performance, and Uber and drunk driving. His research has appeared in many journals, including the Journal of Economic Growth, Public Choice, Economics Letters, and Economics of Education Review. His co-authored paper, “Ride-Sharing, Fatal Crashes, and Crime” was awarded the Georgescu-Roegen Prize for the best academic article published in the Southern Economic Journal in 2018. His work has been covered by Ballotpedia, Politifact, National Review, and Tyler Cowen on marginalrevolution.com. Mulholland was awarded the 2018-2019 College of Business Faculty Excellence Award, the 2017-2018 Honors College Board of Directors Faculty Excellence Award, and the 2017-2018 College of Business Excellence in Research Award. He has held faculty positions at Boston College, Stonehill College, and Mercer University. Mulholland has guided more than a dozen undergraduate research projects. He has served as a faculty mentor at seminars sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) and the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) and led discussions at the Center for Excellence in Education’s Research Science Institute at MIT. Born and raised in Anderson, South Carolina, Mulholland earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from Clemson University. He lives in Franklin, North Carolina with his wife, Western Carolina University economist Angela K. Dills, and their three children.

Industry Expertise (3)

Writing and Editing



Areas of Expertise (5)

Drunk Driving

Hate Crimes

Economic Growth

White Supremacist Groups

Student Performance

Accomplishments (5)

College of Business Faculty Excellence Award (professional)

2018-2019 Western Carolina University

Georgescu-Roegen Prize (professional)

2018 Southern Economic Journal

Honors College Board of Directors Faculty Excellence Award (professional)

2017-2018 Western Carolina University

College of Business Excellence in Research Award (professional)

2017-2018 Western Carolina University

Athletic Department's Outstanding Faculty Member Award (professional)


Education (3)

Clemson University: Ph.D., Applied Economics 2004

Clemson University: M.A., Economics 2001

Clemson University: B.S., Economics 1997

Affiliations (6)

  • American Economic Association
  • Eastern Economic Association
  • North America Association of Sports Economists
  • Public Choice Society
  • Southern Economic Association
  • The Association of Private Enterprise Education

Languages (1)

  • English

Media Appearances (5)

Fed's rate hike in attempt to offset inflation comes with higher costs for many

WLOS  online


“The intent here is to kind of slow down this increase in spending that we've seen in the last year and a half or so that prices don't continue to accelerate,” said Professor Sean Mulholland, at Western Carolina University’s School of Economics.

view more

The NAFTA fight: How Canada can win

The Globe and Mail  online


As U.S. President Donald Trump threatens to tear up the key trade agreement, Greg Keenan travels to the industrial heartland of North Carolina and discovers Canada's secret weapon

view more

Fact check: Do ridesharing services reduce drunk driving and related fatalities?

Ballotpedia  online


Researchers with Western Carolina University, in a study titled “Ride-Sharing, Fatal Crashes, and Crime,” analyzed data from 2007 to 2014 to study whether Uber’s entry is associated with arrest rates for DUIs and the number of fatal crashes. They analyzed rates between counties with and without Uber, and within counties before and after Uber entry.

view more

A recent study found "that cities where Uber operates have 3.6%-5.6% fewer drunk driving deaths than cities without access to ridesharing."

Politifact  online


Sean Mulholland and Angela Dills looked at 150 cities and counties where Uber operated between 2010 and 2013. They found a 6 percent decline in fatal crashes in cities after Uber becomes available. But they concluded the effect on drunken-driving deaths is insignificant.

view more

Did DUI arrests in Tampa plummet when Uber came to town?

Politifact  online


Sean Mulholland, co-author of the study and professor of economics at Stonehill College, said they were able to draw broad conclusions about Uber’s influence because of the large sample size.

view more

Articles (5)

The Value of Forensic Anthropology in Undergraduate Anthropology Programs

American Anthropologist

2021 Anecdotally, it has been suggested that undergraduate anthropology students are more interested in forensic anthropology than any other specialty but that forensic anthropologists are less desired as colleagues in academia due to the nature of their work. The goal of this project was to examine two related questions: Does having a forensic anthropologist, or an undergraduate concentration in forensic anthropology, increase the number of majors in anthropology programs?

view more

Covid-19 prevalence and empty college seats

Applied Economics

2021 Using the National Association for College Admission Counselling’s annual list of colleges with open seats and Covid-19 cases and deaths at the county level, this paper provides a first look at how Covid-19 has altered enrolment at four-year colleges. I find that a one standard deviation increase in deaths per 100,000 is associated with a 61% increase in the probability that a school reports available seats, housing, and aid for first-year students.

view more

Test-Optional Admissions and Student Debt


2020 Applicants who forgo submitting standardized test scores signal that they have fewer enrollment options. Facing fewer competitors, test-optional schools can charge more. We find that graduates admitted under a test-optional policy borrow $1,358 (2016$) more than those required to submit their scores.

view more

Stratification by regulation: Are bootleggers and Baptists biased?

Public Choice

2019 This paper investigates whether and to what extent regulation may be associated with wage inequality. Using regulation measures created by Al-Ubaydli and McLaughlin (Regul Govern 11:109–123, 2017), I find that regulation is associated with larger within-occupation wage inequality. Specifically, I show that a worker at the 90th wage percentile realizes a raise of $1.19 per hour relative to the 10th percentile earner for each standard deviation increase in regulation.

view more

Income Inequality in the United States

Mercatus Research Paper

2019 In this paper we investigate the evolution of income inequality in the United States between 1980 and 2016. We find the drivers to be threefold: changes in the labor force composition, changes in household composition, and changes in market return to skills, with the latter two influences dominating this trend.

view more