Ying (Jessica) Cao, PhD

Assistant Professor, Division of Health Services Policy and Practice, Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health

Contact Information

268G-H Farber Hall
Buffalo, NY 14214-8001
Phone: (716) 829-5369
Fax: (716) 829-2979
Email: ycao25@buffalo.edu


Faculty Links


Jessica Cao, PhD, joined the department in August 2016 as an assistant professor in the Division of Health Services Policy and Practice. Prior to joining UB, Cao was an assistant professor in the Department of Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics (FARE) at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

Cao is a behavioral economist whose research interests focus on judgment and decision-making in health and health care, empirical health policy analysis and global health issues. Her on-going projects involve economics of food and nutrition; consumer choices and household decisions on health service utilization and healthcare facility selection; and market demand for and effect of health insurance, etc.

Cao uses behavioral economics study design to investigate how economic agents (i.e. individuals, households, institutes and/organizations) make decisions within certain institutional or policy settings, such as in situation with risk and uncertain outcomes, in situation where costs and benefits are realized in different time frames, and/or in situation where decisions are jointly made by a group of agents or as responses to others within social networks, etc.

Cao's research provides evidence on how economic agents make decisions, when their decisions are rational, and when they are not. Her research also generates insights on how to design and improve social/policy mechanisms to help people make decisions more efficiently and effectively, with the ultimate goal of making people live healthier, happier, and even better lives.


  • PhD, Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 2012
  • MS, Economics, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, 2007
  • BA, Economics, Nankai University, Tianjin, China, 2005

Professional Affiliations

  • Academy Health
  • American Applied Economics Association (AAEA)
  • American Public Health Association (APHA)
  • American Society of Health Economists (ASHEcon)

revised: 2017-02-28