Policies that focus on education, immigration, welfare, the control of industrial pollution, health insurance, and the built environment have the potential to radically transform the fabric of societies globally. Before such policies can be considered though, randomized controlled trials must be conducted, and these must be coupled with cost-effectiveness analysis that incorporate considerations of the unintended consequences of the policy. Peter Muennig's research focuses on eliminating the preventable burden of disease through the optimal mix of actionable medical and non-medical social policies. He is currently directing a center at Columbia University, GRAPH, which seeks to provide local policymakers worldwide with information on how to reduce disease at the lowest cost. One major area of focus is media and communications. He works with journalists and advertising firms to understand how to optimize messaging such that social and behavioral change can be realized. Peter has advised the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Canada, the Chilean government, and the Chinese government regarding which policies might be needed to optimize population health. He has published 100 peer-reviewed articles in the scientific literature, and has written 4 books. His work has appeared on NPR, CNN, MSNBC and multiple times in major print media sources, such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and a 3 part series in Slate.
Center for the Study of Social Inequalities and Health
National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)
Senior Advisor, Obesity Prevention Initiative
Columbia Population Research Center
Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy
School of Journalism
American Public Health Association, 1996-Present
Society for Medical Decision Making, 2001-Present
Transportation Alternatives, 2006-Present
Honors & Awards
Areas of Expertise
Select Urban Health Activities
Immigrant Health : I conduct a wide array of research focused on understanding the health needs of immigrant populations to New York and to the United States. Immigrants constitute about 40% of the New York population, so New York serves as one laboratory for understanding why immigrants are healthier than the average native-born American.
Opportunity NYC: I served as a consultant to MDRC, the organization charged with the evaluation of Opportunity NYC.
Why is New York City Healthier than others?: I am engaged in a study exploring the contributions of immigration, gentrification, and social polices to the health of NYC residents that might explain the large gains in life expectancy seen in the city over the past 2 decades.
Select Global Activities
Burmese Refugee Project (now Kwah Dao), Thailand: We seek to afford stateless children the opportunity to obtain a high quality education and lead healthy and productive lives. We do so via schooling, sanitation, vaccination, and clean water initiatives. We also run a Montessori school. Please see http://kwahdao.org for more information.
Banyan Center, Thailand: http://kwahdao.org/our-work/banyan-center/
Muennig P. Can universal pre-kindergarten programs improve population health and longevity? Mechanisms, evidence, and policy implications. Social Science and Medicine. 2015;127:116-23.
Muennig P, Caleyachetty R, Rosen Z, Korotzer A. More money, fewer lives: the cost effectiveness of welfare reform in the United States. American Journal of Public Health. 2015 Feb;105(2):324-8.
Muennig PA, Epstein M, Li G, DiMaggio C. The Cost-Effectiveness of New York City's Safe Routes to School Program. American Journal of Public Health. 2014;104(7):1294-9.
Muennig P, Finn, J. Johnson G, Wilde ET. The effect of small class sizes on mortality through age 29: evidence from a multi-center randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2011;173(12):1468-74.
Muennig P, Rosen Z, Wilde ET. Welfare programs that target workforce participation may negatively impact mortality. Health Affairs. 2013;32(6).
Muennig P The social costs of childhood lead exposure in the post-lead regulation era. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. 2009;163(9): 844-849
Muennig P, Robertson D, Johnson G, Campbell F, Pungello E, Neidel M. The effect of an early education program on adult health: the Carolina Abecedarian Project randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Public Health. 2011;(3):512-6.
Muennig P, Glied SA. What changes in survival rates tell us about U.S. health care. Health Affairs 2010;29(11):2105-13.
Muennig P, Fiscella K, Tancredi D, Franks, P. The Relative Health Burden of Selected Social and Behavioral Risk Factors in the United States: Implications for Policy. American Journal of Public Health. 2010; 100: 1758-1764.
Muennig P Designing and Conducting Cost-Effectiveness Analysis in Health and Medicine Jossey-Bass San Francisco, CA 2002
Muennig P, Pallin D, Sell R, Chan, MS The cost effectiveness of strategies for the treatment of intestinal parasites in immigrants New England Journal of Medicine 340 773-779 1999
Muennig P, Franks P, Gold MR. The cost-effectiveness of health insurance American Journal of Preventive Medicine 28 59-64 2005
Muennig P, Franks P, Lubetkin E, Jia H, Gold MR. The burden of disease due to income Social Science and Medicine 2005