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Thomas Barnay

2021–22 French Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice and Visiting Professor, Harvard Medical School; 2022–24 Visiting Professor of Economics, Northeastern University, Boston; Full Professor (on leave), Université Paris-Est Créteil (UPEC), France

headshot of Thomas Barnay

Placement: Harvard Medical School

Mentor: Joseph Newhouse, Ph.D., John D. MacArthur Professor of Health Policy and Management and Director of the Division of Health Policy Research and Education, Harvard University

Co-mentor: Richard Frank, Ph.D., Margaret T. Morris Professor of Health Economics, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School

Project: Assessing the Effects of COVID-19 on Mental Health Among Adults 50 and Over in the U.S. and Europe

Thomas Barnay, Ph.D., M.Sc., is a 2021–22 French Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice. He is a Professor of Economics at Université Paris-Est Créteil (UPEC) and Director of the ERUDITE Research Unit, a team of 70 researchers working on issues of personal data use and economic theory. Barnay’s research focuses on health, working conditions, and employment; aging populations and access to care, with a public health policy dimension. He has published in 44 peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Health Economics, European Journal of Health Economics, and Health Economics, Policy and Law. Barnay is an elected Board Member of the French Economic Association, where he also serves as Vice President for Research. He currently leads the Health Economics and Public Health Pillar of LIVE (LIfe trajectories and health VulnErability) at the Graduate School of UPEC, where he designed master’s programs in Health and Health Economics. Barnay was previously a Scientific Advisor to the French Ministry of Social Affairs and Health at DREES (Directorate of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics), in charge of the nationally representative Health and Professional trajectories survey. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from ERUDITE, Université Paris-Est Créteil.

Project Overview: In both the U.S. and France, the number of people age 50 and over is increasing because of population aging and the growing prevalence of long-term conditions. This population is also particularly vulnerable to the health consequences of COVID-19. Using the Health and Retirement Study (U.S.) and the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement (Europe), as well as interviews focused on COVID-19, this research will measure the causal short-term impact of COVID-19 on mental health among the working population age 50 and over (sample 1) and retirees (sample 2). For sample 1, we aim to understand changes in employment because of COVID-19 among “essential” and “nonessential” employees. For sample 2, we aim to understand the impact of past life events (childhood events, working conditions, and transition to retirement). In both we will control by direct and indirect effects of COVID-19, as well as country-specific effects (closure and containment, economic response, and health system response).