Michael Greenstone is the Milton Friedman Professor in Economics, the College, and the Harris School, as well as the Director of the interdisciplinary Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, the Becker-Friedman Institute and the Energy & Environment Lab at the University of Chicago Urban Labs. He previously served as the Chief Economist for President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, and on the Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board. Greenstone also directed the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project, which studies policies to promote economic growth, and has since joined its Advisory Council. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, editor of the Journal of Political Economy, fellow of the Econometric Society, and co-director of the International Growth Centre’s Energy Research Programme. Before coming to Chicago, Greenstone was the 3M Professor of Environmental Economics at MIT.
Greenstone’s research estimates the costs and benefits of environmental quality and society’s energy choices. He has worked extensively on the Clean Air Act and examined its impacts on air quality, manufacturing activity, housing prices, and human health to assess its benefits and costs. He is currently engaged in large‐scale projects to estimate the economic costs of climate change and to identify efficient approaches to mitigating these costs.
His research is increasingly focused on developing countries. This work includes an influential paper that demonstrated that high levels of particulates air pollution from coal combustion are causing the 500 million residents of Northern China to lose more than 2.5 billion years of life expectancy. He is also engaged in projects with the Government of India and four Indian state governments that use randomized control trials to test innovative ways to improve the functioning of environmental regulations and increase energy access.
Greenstone received a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University and a BA in economics with High Honors from Swarthmore College.