Dr. Sarah Estelle

Professor of Economics
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Professor Sarah Estelle is a professor of economics at Hope College. Because she believes economics can be useful everywhere and used by everyone, she enjoys extending the theories and empirical techniques of microeconomics to questions located along the "imperialist" frontier of economic research. For example, Professor Estelle has published work on criminal justice reform, higher education, risky adolescent behaviors, and parents' investments in children. More broadly yet, Professor Estelle is intrigued by the role of government in human flourishing and is especially fascinated by the big ideas of Nobel Laureate economist F. A. Hayek related to knowledge and information, cultural evolution, and order not of design but of human action. Most recently Professor Estelle has undertaken work bridging the principles of traditional Christian teaching and classical liberal economics and especially applying the lessons of economics to the Christian virtue of love, thickly construed. She is also the developer and author of Religious Liberty in the States, a statistical index of the Center for Religion, Culture and Democracy that measures the legal safeguards for the free exercise of religion in the United States.

Professor Estelle is the founding director of Hope’s Markets & Morality student organization, which explores economic issues through a Christian lens and brings speakers and film screenings to campus to enrich the Hope community’s understanding of markets. In 2022–23, Markets & Morality celebrated its tenth year.

Areas of expertise 

  • Applied microeconomics
  • Hayek and Christianity
  • Love and economics
  • Measuring domestic religious liberty protections
  • Labor and public economic


  • Ph.D., economics, University of Virginia, 2008
  • B.A., economics, Hillsdale College, 2000

Honors, grants and awards

  • Acton Institute Mini-Grant for The Economic Ways of Loving, 2021
  • Ruch Faculty Fellow in the Department of Economics and Business, 2015–2019
  • Charles Koch Foundation Grants, 2013–14 to present
  • Jacob E. Nyenhuis Faculty Development Grant for Faculty-Student Collaborative Research, 2013, 2014
  • American Educational Research Association Dissertation Grant, 2006–07
  • Fellow, Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Program in Education Science, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, 2004–06

Selected publications

Selected Presentations

  • “For Love of God and Neighbor: Economic Wisdom and the Mission of the Church,” Kern Family Foundation Faculty Development Workshops, Dallas, November 2022, and Milwaukee, August 2023
  • “The Economic Ways of Loving,” Chesterton House Christian Study Center (Cornell University) April 10, 2023 and Kennesaw State University (GA) April 26, 2022
  • “Holding Fast to Essentials, Acknowledging the Negotiables: Recommendations for Christian Cultural Engagement,” Southern Economic Association Meetings, November 21, 2022
  • “Operationalizing Free Exercise & the Measurement of Domestic Religious Liberty,” Henry Institute Symposium, April 7, 2022
  • “Classical and Christian Notions of Love and the Relevance of Economics as Prudence,” Ciceronian Society, March 12, 2022
  • “Contemporary Scholarship in Austrian Economics: The Applicability of F.A. Hayek,” Matej Bel University (Banska Bystrica, Slovakia), October 8, 2018

Outside the college

Professor Estelle — a native of Traverse City, Michigan — lives in Holland with her husband, Aaron (artist and Assistant to the Director of Markets & Morality). Together they enjoy all the natural beauty and local foods West Michigan has to offer and international travel as often as possible.

Profile photo of Dr. Sarah Estelle
Dr. Sarah Estelle

Phone Number616.395.7571

VanZoeren Hall 177 41 Graves Place Holland, MI 49423-3617
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