Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith
  • Applied Economics Doctoral Candidate

Contact Information

Research Interests: Urban Economics, Environmental Economics, Education Economics

Links: CV, Personal Website


I am a 4th year doctoral candidate in Wharton’s Applied Economics program. My primary interest is in housing markets, where I study the impact of water supply on housing production, the effects of school choice on house prices, and the impacts of neighborhood social connections on household mobility.

Prior to graduate school, I worked at the American Enterprise Institute’s Housing Center where I am now an Adjunct Fellow and completed my BA in economics at the University of Southern California.

I can be reached at . Please see my personal site for the most up-to-date information.

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  • Benjamin Smith, Morris Davis, Stephen Oliner, William Larson (2022), A Quarter Century of Mortgage Risk, Review of Finance.

    Abstract: This article provides a comprehensive history of default risk for newly originated home mortgages in the USA over the past quarter century. The loan-level source data include the entire guarantee book for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We track many loan characteristics and produce a summary measure of risk. Among our many results, we show that mortgage risk had already risen in the 1990s, planting seeds of the financial crisis well before the actual event. Our results also cast doubt on explanations of the crisis that focus on borrowers with low credit scores. The aggregate series are available for download at



    This course will introduce you to “managerial economics” which is the application of microeconomic theory to managerial decision-making. Microeconomic theory is a remarkably useful body of ideas for understanding and analyzing the behavior of individuals and firms in a variety of economic settings. The goal of the course is for you to understand this body of theory well enough so that you can effectively analyze managerial (and other) problems in an economic framework. While this is a “tools” course, we will cover many real-world applications, particularly business applications, so that you can witness the usefulness of these tools and acquire the skills to use them yourself. We will depart from the usual microeconomic theory course by giving more emphasis to prescription: What should a manager do in order to achieve some objective? That course deliverable is to compare with description: Why do firms and consumers act the way they do? The latter will still be quite prominent in this course because only by understanding how other firms and customers behave can a manager determine what is beswt for him or her to do. Strategic interaction is explored both in product markets and auctions. Finally, the challenges created by asymmetric information – both in the market and within the firm – are investigated.

Awards and Honors

  • Amy Morse Prize, 2020


Latest Research

Benjamin Smith, Morris Davis, Stephen Oliner, William Larson (2022), A Quarter Century of Mortgage Risk, Review of Finance.
All Research