Dr. Sarah Estelle

Associate Professor of Economics
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Sarah Estelle is an associate professor of economics at Hope College. She extends the theories and empirical techniques of microeconomics to questions located along the "imperialist" frontier of economic research. She is interested in public policy, especially criminal justice reform, education choices, risky health behaviors and parents' investments in children. More broadly yet, Sarah 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.

She 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.

Areas of expertise 

  • Applied microeconomics
  • Hayek and Christianity
  • Labor economics
  • Public economics


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

Honors, grants and awards

  • 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

  • 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 Relative Contract Position of School Teachers: An Analysis of Public Union vs. Non-Union Schools,” with John Ruggiero, Data Envelopment Analysis Journal, October 2014
  • “The Academic Impact on Children of Maternal Post-Secondary Enrollment,” Economics of Education Review, April 2011

Invited Paper and Book Chapter

  • “We’ll Never Be Royals, But That Doesn’t Matter,” with Art Carden and Anne Bradley, Independent Review, summer 2017
  • “The Economics of Title IX Compliance in Collegiate Athletics,” with Susan L. Averett, in Handbook on the Economics of Women’s Sports, eds. Eva Marikova Leeds and Michael A. Leeds, 2013

Outside the college

Sarah, a native of Traverse City, Michigan, lives with her husband, Aaron, in Holland, where they enjoy all the natural beauty, local foods and friendly people West Michigan has to offer.

She is a research fellow at the Acton Institute, a Values and Capitalism Academic Ally and serves as an associate editor of the Journal of Markets & Morality. She is affiliated with American Economic Association, Association of Christian Economists, Southern Economic Association, Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy Board of Scholars.

Visit Sarah's personal website

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Dr. Sarah Estelle

Phone Number616.395.7571

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