Peter Muennig, MD, MPH

  • Professor of Health Policy and Management
Profile Headshot


Peter Muennig is a Professor at Columbia University's Department of Health Policy and Management. He uses randomized-controlled trials to study the social determinants of health. He then links these RCTs with cost-effectiveness analyses to determine the best mix of social policies for optimizing population health. For example, he has worked with MDRC on an RCT of the Earned Income Tax Credit as well as conditional cash transfers. His cost-effectiveness work spans a broad array of social policies so that governments can determine how to obtain the best value for health investments. These include analyses on reduced class size, pre-kindergarten programs, lead abatement programs, welfare reform, transportation policies, and health insurance. He has been the PI on multiple NIH grants, has received $16 million in funding, and has published over 150 articles in leading journals.


Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Health Policy and Management

Administrative Titles

  • Senior Advisor, Obesity Prevention Initiative

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • MD, 1994 University of California at San Diego
  • MPH, 1998 Columbia University

Committees, Societies, Councils

American Public Health Association, 1996-Present

Society for Medical Decision Making, 2001-Present

Transportation Alternatives, 2006-Present

Editorial Boards

Global Public Health

Honors & Awards

Stanford University Center for Population Health Sciences Lecture Series, 2016

Health Affairs most read article, 2010

Glenda Garvey Teaching Academy, 2010

ASPH/Pfizer Early Career in Public Health Teaching Award, 2008

Academy of Distinguished Teachers, 2008


Peter Muennig's research interests lie in social determinants of health. His work primarily focuses on how social programs that enhance cognition, such as education interventions, ultimately improve health and what this means for policymakers. His work has appeared in major media outlets such as the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, and Slate. His research has changed policy in the US and Canada, where he worked as a consultant.

Research Interests

  • Community Health
  • Global Health
  • Healthcare Policy

Selected Publications

Muennig P, Reynolds M, Fink DS, Zafari Z, Geronimus AT. America's Declining Well-Being, Health, and Life Expectancy: Not Just a White Problem. American Journal of Public Health. 2018 Dec;108(12):1626-1631. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2018.304585. Epub 2018 Sep 25.

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.

Courtin E, Kim S, Song S, Yu W, Muennig P. Can Social Policies Improve Health? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 38 Randomized Trials. Milbank Q. 2020 Jun;98(2):297-371. doi: 10.1111/1468-0009.12451. Epub 2020 Mar 19.

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

Global Health 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 for more information.

Banyan Center, Thailand:

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.