Robert J. Willis

Robert J. Willis, Photograph
Director Emeritus

Contact Information

Survey Research Center
P.O. Box 1248
Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248

Phone: 734.936.0314
Fax: 734.647.1186


Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle, WA
M.A., University of Washington, Seattle, WA
B.A., Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

Research and Projects

Willis has longstanding research interests in labor economics and economic demography, focusing on theoretical and empirical research on economic and demographic behavior over the entire life-cycle, including research on fertility, marriage, divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing; human capital education and earnings; intergenerational transfers; retirement and mortality in both developed and developing countries. He was Director of the Health and Retirement Study for twelve years from 1995 to 2007. Around 2000, he began a new area of research dealing with the relationship between probabilistic thinking, savings and wealth accumulation, stock market expectations and longevity and related topics. More recently, he has also studied the impact of retirement on cognitive ability. Willis is a Fellow of Society of Labor Economists; past president of the Midwestern Economics Association and the Society of Labor Economists; winner of the Mindel Sheps Award from the Population Association of America for outstanding contributions to mathematical demography or demographic methodology and recipient of a Distinguished Alumnus Award, Department of Economics, University of Washington.

Selected Recent Publications

Sonnega, A., McFall, B. H., & Willis, R. J. (2016). Occupational Transitions at Older Ages: What Moves are People Making? Michigan Retirement Research Center: Ann Arbor, MI.

McFall, B. H., Sonnega, A., Willis, R. J., & Hudomiet, P. (2015). Occupations and Work Characteristics: Effects on Retirement Expectations and Timing. Michigan Retirement Research Center: Ann Arbor, MI.

Hsu, J. W., & Willis, R. (2013). Dementia risk and financial decision making by older households: The impact of information. Journal of Human Capital, 7(4), 340-377.

Hudomiet, P., & Willis, R. J. (2013). Estimating second order probability beliefs from subjective survival data. Decision Analysis, 10(2), 152-170.