Dr. Sean Sylvia

Sean Y. Sylvia, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Health Policy and Management
1101D McGavran-Greenberg Hall
CB #7411
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7411


Sean Sylvia, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. As a health and development economist, Dr. Sylvia’s work uses experimental and quasi-experimental methods to study innovative approaches to improve the delivery of health services in underserved communities globally. His work has appeared in leading public health and economics journals such as the BMJ, PLOS Medicine, Health Services Research, the Journal of Health Economics, World Development, and the Economic Journal. Dr. Sylvia currently leads the Digital Health Economics and Policy (DHEP) Lab, which convenes interdisciplinary teams to weave insights from the behavioral, data, and computer sciences into transformative health policy research suited for the digital age. Prior to UNC, he held positions at the Renmin University of China, Stanford University, and the World Bank. He obtained his PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics with a concentration in Development Economics from the University of Maryland at College Park.

Sean Sylvia in the Gillings News

Research Activities

  • Health Economics
  • Econometrics
  • Impact Evaluation
  • Cost Effectiveness Analysis
  • Performance-based Contracts
  • Quality of Care
  • Nutrition
  • Early Childhood Development

Key Publications

Ordeal Mechanisms, Information, and the Cost-effectiveness of Strategies to Provide Subsidized Eyeglasses. Sylvia, S., X. Ma, Y. Shi, and S. Rozelle (2022). Journal of Health Economics, 82.
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Nudging Primary Care Providers into Expanding the Labor Force for Opioid Use Disorder: A Statewide Experiment. Domino, M., S. Sylvia, and S. Green (2022). Health Services Research, 57(2), 403-410.
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From Quantity to Quality: Delivering a Home-Based Parenting Intervention through China’s Family Planning Cadres. Sylvia, S., N. Warrinnier, R. Luo, A. Yue, O. Attanasio, A. Medina, and S. Rozelle (2021). Economic Journal, 131(635), 1365-1400.
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Tuberculosis Detection and the Challenges of Integrated Care in Rural China: A Cross-Sectional Standardized Patient Study. Sylvia, S., H. Xue, C. Zhou, Y. Shi, H. Yi, H. Zhou, S. Rozelle, M. Pai, and J. Das (2017). PLOS Medicine, 14(10), e1002405.
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  • BA, Economics and International Studies, University of Alabama, 2006
  • MS, Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Maryland, 2012
  • PhD, Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Maryland, 2014