Dr. Sarah EstelleAssociate Professor of Economics
Professor Sarah Estelle is an associate professor of economics at Hope College. Because she believe 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 the director of Religious Liberty in the States, a brand-new statistical index 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. Markets & Morality celebrates its 10th year in 2022–23.
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
- Religious Liberty in the States 2022: A Domestic Measure of Statutory Safeguards for the Free Exercise of Religion, a statistical index, dataset and detailed report on domestic religious liberty, September 2022
- “Workforce Development in Michigan,” research report for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, May 2019
- “Smart Sentencing Guidelines: The Effect of Marginal Policy Changes on Recidivism,” with David Phillips, Journal of Public Economics, August 2018
- “Will Daughters Walk Mom’s Talk? The Effects of Maternal Communication about Sex on the Sexual Behavior of Female Adolescents,” with Susan Averett, Review of Economics of the Household, December 2014
- “The Academic Impact on Children of Maternal Post-Secondary Enrollment,” Economics of Education Review, April 2011
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.