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UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Professor Elected to Social Insurance Research Organization

Dr. Frederick Zimmerman, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of health policy and management, chosen for 2022 class of membership in the National Academy of Social Insurance

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Dr. Frederick Zimmerman, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of health policy and management, has been selected for membership in the Washington, DC-based National Academy of Social Insurance.

The National Academy of Social Insurance engages in the research of social insurance programs in the United States – Social Security, Medicare, Workers’ Compensation, and Unemployment Insurance – as well as related policy areas, including Medicaid, long-term services and supports, paid leave, and other social assistance programs. The Academy also looks at new frontiers for social insurance, including areas of uninsured or underinsured economic risks.

“I am very pleased to be asked to contribute to the Academy’s work,” said Zimmerman, who has led research into health economics for more than two decades, including how economic issues – including evictions and school closures – may have contributed to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Evictions may have accelerated COVID-19 transmission by decreasing individuals’ ability to socially distance.  By contrast, school closures had a very small effect on reducing COVID-19 transmission but a large effect on future mortality by reducing school engagement and therefore educational attainment.”

Zimmerman’s membership will support the organization’s overall goal of increasing public understanding of how social insurance contributes to economic security, said William Arnone, the Academy’s chief executive officer.

“Our new and existing Members, encompassing a diverse range of perspectives and expertise, play a pivotal role in the Academy’s work to address critical issues in today’s challenging environment – from the impacts of COVID-19 to racism in its many dimensions,” Arnone said. “Together, they bring an expansive base of knowledge across topics critical to the social insurance field and will help elevate the Academy’s mission to strengthen social insurance and improve economic security in this country.”

Zimmerman was one of 48 new members elected in January, bringing the total active membership to over 1,200. His colleagues include academics and experts from academia and both the private and public sectors, including at the federal and state levels.

His recent research has been published in the American Journal of Public Health, JAMA Network Open, Social Science & Medicine, and the American Journal of Epidemiology, among many other peer-reviewed journals, and has been cited in an order (PDF) issued by Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“My perspective on these national issues is that the United States has struggled for decades to provide its residents and citizens the public programs necessary to assure the conditions in which all Americans can be as healthy as possible,” Zimmerman said. “My bottom-line finding on these questions is that the economic context is critical for public health.”

Zimmerman, who is co-director of the UCLA Center for Health Advancement, has taught at the university since 2008. He earned his PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and as a health economist, he has led research into how economic structure — including inequality, social insurance, and housing markets — influence population health. This has included the measurement of health equity; the effects of housing affordability on health; transportation and health; media use and child development; and the opportunity costs of medical spending.

The UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, founded in 1961, is dedicated to enhancing the public's health by conducting innovative research, training future leaders and health professionals from diverse backgrounds, translating research into policy and practice, and serving our local communities and the communities of the nation and the world. The school has 761 students from 26 nations engaged in carrying out the vision of building healthy futures in greater Los Angeles, California, the nation and the world.