University of Pennsylvania professor Olivia S. Mitchell has been named a 2023 Distinguished Fellow by the American Economic Association (AEA). The Award of Distinguished Fellow recognizes the lifetime research contributions of distinguished economists.
Mitchell is the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Professor; professor of insurance and risk management and business economics and public policy; executive director of the Pension Research Council; and director of the Boettner Center on Pensions and Retirement Research at the Wharton School. She also serves as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, independent director on the Allspring Mutual Fund Boards, co-investigator for the Health and Retirement Study at the University of Michigan, and as a member of the executive board for the Michigan Retirement Research Center.
Mitchell’s expertise focuses on public and private pensions, insurance and risk management, financial literacy, and public finance. Her research explores how systematic longevity risk and financial crises can shape household portfolios and work patterns over the life cycle, the economics and finance of defined contribution pensions, financial literacy, wealth accumulation, and claiming behavior for Social Security benefits.
Previously, Mitchell chaired Wharton’s Department of Insurance and Risk Management, and she also taught for 16 years at Cornell University. She was a commissioner on the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security, a member of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) Advisory Council, and on numerous other boards and working groups focused on Social Security and retirement.
She served the AEA as vice president (2020–2021), executive committee member (2003–2007), and as member of the AEA Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession Board (1994–96). Mitchell was recognized in 2008 with the Caroline Bell Shaw Award from CSWEP for her work on the status of women in economics.
Since 1965, past presidents of the AEA are recognized as Distinguished Fellows, and up to four additional individuals may be elected for the award in one calendar year. Distinguished Fellows are selected by the AEA Nominating Committee and voting members of the Executive Committee, sitting together as an electoral college.