Carnegie Mellon University

Saurabh Bhargava

Saurabh Bhargava

Associate Professor
Ph.D. in Economics


Prior to joining Carnegie Mellon, Saurabh was an Adjunct Faculty at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, and a consultant at McKinsey & Company. Outside of research, Saurabh battles a mild caffeine addiction, has an unyielding appetite for film, and spends his time reading and wagering on politics, consuming all forms of pop culture and (Minnesota based) sports, and watching reality television -- for research, of course.


University of California, Berkeley, Economics, Ph.D.
Harvard University, Economics, A.B.


Saurabh studies topics at the intersection of Economics and Psychology (Behavioral Economics) with a particular focus on questions with relevance to public policy. Recent projects have examined whether consumers are able to make sensible health insurance choices, why eligible individuals fail to claim social benefits such as the EITC, factors that influence job search and wage expectations of the unemployed, the role of insurance incentives and their complexity on safe driving, how perceptual biases influence speed dating and judicial sentencing, and the social and economic factors that determine happiness. This research has been covered by national media including the NY Times, NPR, Bloomberg, New York Magazine, CNBC, Marginal Revolution, and

Papers in Economics & Policy

  1. Choose to Lose: Health Plan Choices from a Menu with Dominated Options (w/ George Loewenstein and Justin Sydnor), Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 132, Issue 3, pp. 1319-1372, 2017.
  2. The Costs of Poor Health (Plan Choices) & Prescriptions for Reform” (w/ Loewenstein, G., and Benartzi, S.), Behavioral Science & Policy, Vol. 3, Issue 1, pp. 1-12, 2017.
  3. A Behavioral Blueprint for Improving Health Care Policy” (w/ Loewenstein, G., Schwartz, J., Ericson, K., Kessler, J., Hagmann, D., Blumenthal-Barby, J., D’Aunno, T., Handel, B., Kolstad, J., Nussbaum, D., Shaffer, V., Skinner, J., Ubel, P., and Zikmund-Fisher, B.), Behavioral Science & Policy, Vol. 3, Issue 1, pp. 53-66, 2017.
  4. Behaviorally informed policies for household financial decision-making” (w/ Madrian, B. C., Hershfield, H. E., Sussman, A., Burke, J., Huettel, S. A., Jamison, J., Johnson, E., Meier, S., Rick, S., and Shu, S), Behavioral Science & Policy, Vol. 3, Issue 1, pp. 27-40, 2017.
  5. Psychological Frictions and the Incomplete Take-Up of Social Benefits: Evidence from an IRS Field Experiment (w/ Day Manoli), The American Economic Review, Vol. 105, No. 11, pp. 3489-3529, 2015.
  6. Choosing a Health Insurance Plan, Complexity and Consequences (w/ George Loewenstein), Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 314, No. 23, pp. 2505-2506, 2015.
  7. Contrast Effects in Sequential Decisions: Evidence from Speed Dating (w/Ray Fisman), The Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 96, No. 3, pp. 444-457, July 2014.
  8. Driving Under the (Cellular) Influence (w/ Vikram Pathania), American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 92-125, 2013.
  9. Behavioral Economics and Public Policy 102: Beyond Nudging (w/ George Loewenstein), American Economic Review, Papers & Proceedings, Vol. 105, No. 5, pp. 396-401, 2015.
  10. The Simple Case Against Health Insurance Complexity (w/George Loewenstein), NEJM Catalyst, Patient Engagement, published online on August 23rd, 2016.
  11. An Unhealthy Attitude? New Insight into the Modest Effects of the NLEA (w/ Mark Patterson and George Loewenstein), Journal of Behavioral Economics for Policy, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 15-26, 2017

Papers in Psychology

  1. A Reassessment of the 'Defense of Parenthood' (w/ Karim S. Kassam and George Loewenstein), Psychological Science, Vol. 25, Issue 1, January 2014.
  2. Bored in the USA: Using Experience Sampling to Determine Boredom's Contextual and Demographic Correlates (w/ Alycia Chin, Amanda Markey, Karim S. Kassam, and George Loewenstein), Emotion, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 359-368, 2017.
  3. Gender Differences in Experienced Love (w/ Karim S. Kassam, George Loewenstein, and Carey Morewedge), In preparation.
  4. New Evidence on the Hedonic and Time-Use Consequences of Parenthood (w/ Karim S. Kassam, Carey Morewedge, and George Loewenstein), In preparation.