Penn Wharton Budget Model

State-of-the-Art Economic Analysis to Inform Public Policymaking

The Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) is a group of economists and data scientists focused on providing objective quantitative analyses of the economic and fiscal impacts of public policies. Our research helps policymakers better understand how different features of policy design determine the effects and effectiveness of policies. We study a broad range of policy areas—including longer-term fiscal issues such as the financial solvency of the Social Security program and different ways to reform the federal tax system, as well as shorter-term current policy issues such as the economic vs. public health tradeoffs associated with the reopening of state economies during the coronavirus crisis.

Policy Analysis

PWBM provides objective, non-partisan analysis such as our coronavirus reopening simulator—work that is regularly cited by prominent policymakers, Members of Congress, and top media outlets.

Work with Policymakers

PWBM works directly with policymakers and their staff, providing timely answers to their questions and educating them through our Certificate Program for Policy Professionals.

Public Outreach

PWBM educates and engages the public in the policymaking, for example through our Democratizing the Budget Process competition.

Events on Campus

PWBM regularly hosts on-campus events for Wharton students to learn about the latest work on timely policy areas such as pandemic response, Medicare for All, and wealth taxation.

Our Leadership

Kent Smetters - Faculty Director, Penn Wharton Budget Model

Kent Smetters

Dr. Smetters is the Boettner Professor in the Department of Business Economics and Public Policy at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and is serving as the Faculty Director of The Penn Wharton Budget Model.

Professor Smetters brings a wealth of policy expertise to The Penn Wharton Budget Model, with a strong record of research in public economics as well as work experience in the public sector.  Starting in May 2001, he spent 17 months serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. He subsequently became a member of the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel on Dynamic Scoring, convened by the Joint Committee on Taxation of the U.S. Congress. His experience also includes a position as an economist in the Congressional Budget Office, and as a consultant for the World Bank and the Urban Institute.

Professor Smetters earned bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Computer Science from Ohio State University, and received his MA and PhD degrees in Economics from Harvard University.  His research interests include financial regulation, government debt and Social Security policy, and retirement and financial planning. In addition to his faculty position at Wharton, Professor Smetters is a Faculty Research Fellow in the Aging Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), as well as a Research Associate in NBER’s Public Economics Program.  He also is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, and a Research Associate of the Michigan Retirement Research Center and the Pension Research Council.

Professor Smetters’ research has appeared in leading journals, including American Economic ReviewJournal of Political Economy, and The Quarterly Journal of Economics.  He often is cited in major news outlets such as the Wall Street JournalForbes, and Marketplace, and also hosts the program “Your Money” on Wharton Business Radio (Sirius XM Channel 111).

Boettner Chair Professor
Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy
Faculty Director, Penn Wharton Budget Model

Our Mission

PWBM is a nonpartisan, research-based initiative that provides accurate, accessible and transparent economic analysis of public policy’s fiscal impact. Using the project’s research briefs and interactive budget tools enables analysis of legislation while it is drafted. PWBM serves as an honest broker at the intersection of business and public policy providing rigorous analysis without policy advocacy.

Get Involved

Undergraduate Students

PWBM offers many opportunities for undergraduate students looking to gain experience in economic research and public policy work. Student workers contribute to PWBM research by compiling and cleaning data and by constructing data visualizations. PWBM also provides mentorship to students in their independent research and gives them a platform to publish their findings. In addition to research opportunities, PWBM lets student workers gain experience in tasks such as writing about policy, tracking legislation, and putting on events.

Graduate Students

PWBM also sponsors graduate students in both the Applied Mathematics & Computational Science Graduate Group and the Economics Department of the School of Arts & Sciences. In addition to contributing directly to the modeling capabilities of our major model components, PWBM graduate students help us tackle issues on the forefront of research. Projects include the implementation of swarm calibration functionality in an overlapping generations (OLG) model as well as the development of a carbon OLG modeled with uncertainty that utilizes a GPU parallel computing algorithm and neural network.

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Penn Wharton Budget Model
The University of Pennsylvania

3440 Market Street, Suite 300
Philadelphia, PA 19104

440 First Street, NW, Suite 810
Washington, DC 20001