Todd Elder

Todd  Elder
  • MSU Foundation Professor
  • Economics


Todd Elder is a Professor and Graduate Program Director in the Department of Economics at Michigan State University. His primary research interests lie in health economics and the economics of child development. He is currently studying skill formation and learning disability diagnoses among school-age children, with a focus on the influence of malleable school and classroom factors on the diagnoses of neurodevelopmental disabilities, including autism and ADHD. Other recent research examines the relationship between parental characteristics and autism diagnoses among children. 

Elder has also written extensively on the identification of the economic returns to private education and related measurement issues in the economics of education. This research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Social Security Administration. Racial and ethnic disparities among children are recurring themes of his research. Recent work has examined the roles of reference bias in the measurement of non-cognitive skills. This research implies that references biases influence measured racial disparities in skills and distort the links between skills and adult outcomes.

Elder enjoys teaching courses that introduce students to measurement and identification issues, especially disentangling causal relationships from correlations found in observational data. In 2017 he was chosen as the College of Social Science Alumni Association’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year.