Tomas J. Philipson

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Tomas Philipson
Tomas J. Philipson 2012 (cropped).jpg
Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
In office
June 28, 2019 – June 23, 2020
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byKevin Hassett
Succeeded byTyler Goodspeed (Acting)
Member of the Council of Economic Advisers
In office
Succeeded byJared Bernstein
Personal details
BornUppsala, Sweden
Political partyRepublican
EducationUppsala University (BS)
Claremont Graduate University (MA)
University of Pennsylvania (MA, PhD)

Tomas J. Philipson is a Swedish-born American economist who served as the Acting Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Trump administration. He departed from the position and the Council at the end of June, 2020, to return to the University of Chicago.[1] He holds the Daniel Levin Chair in Public Policy at the University of Chicago, with posts in the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, Department of Economics, and the Law School. He was a Director of the Becker Friedman Institute at the university.

In August 2017 he was appointed by President Donald Trump to become one of three members of the Council of Economic Advisers. While Acting Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Philipson downplayed the public health risk and economic threat of the coronavirus pandemic, going so far as to question the wearing of masks to slow transmission of the disease.[2][1]


Philipson was born and raised in Sweden, where he obtained his undergraduate degree in mathematics at Uppsala University. After earning his MA in mathematics at the Claremont Graduate University, he went on to receive his MA and PhD in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.



After receiving his PhD, he joined the University of Chicago as a postdoctoral fellow and thereafter joined the faculty. He has been a visiting faculty member at Yale University and a visiting fellow at The World Bank.

Philipson is a co-founder of Precision Health Economics, a healthcare consulting firm that was headquartered in Los Angeles. It was sold in 2015.

Philipson is a founding editor of the journal Forums for Health Economics & Policy of Bepress, and has been on the editorial board of the journal Health Economics and The European Journal of Health Economics. His research has been published widely in journals such as The American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Journal of Economic Theory, Journal of Health Economics, Health Affairs, and Econometrica.

Philipson has twice received the Kenneth Arrow Award of the International Health Economics Association (for best paper in the field of health economics). In addition, he was awarded the Garfield Award by Research America, the Prêmio Haralambos Simeonidisand from the Brazilian Economic Association, and the Distinguished Economic Research Award from the Milken Institute.


Philipson served in the George W. Bush administration as the senior economic advisor to the Commissioner of Food and Drugs (the head of the Food and Drug Administration), and subsequently as the senior economic advisor to the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.[3]

He was an advisor to Republican Senator John McCain during his 2008 presidential campaign.[4] In 2016, Philipson was briefly a member of the Donald Trump presidential transition team.[3][4] In August 2017, Philipson was appointed by President Donald Trump to become one of three members of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).[3] Philipson played a leading role in the Trump administration's efforts to oppose Medicare for All health care systems,[4] promote Trump's deregulation agenda,[4] and promote the 2017 Republican tax legislation.[5] After Kevin Hassett resigned as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in June 2019, Philipson was named as acting chairman,[6] a post he held until he resigned in June 2020.[7]

In February 2020, while chair of the council, Philipson publicly downplayed the public health and economic threats of the coronavirus pandemic, saying, "I don't think corona is as big a threat as people make it out to be."[8][2] Philipson asserted that public health threats do not usually cause harm to the economy and that the coronavirus would not be as bad as a normal flu season, although a September 2019 study by White House economists projected that a pandemic disease could kill hundreds of thousands of Americans and cause trillions of dollars in damage to the nation's economy.[8]


  1. ^ a b Costa, Robert, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Jeff Stein, "A second senior economist is abruptly leaving the White House amid ongoing economic crisis", Washington Post, June 24, 2020. Retrieved 2020-06-24.
  2. ^ a b Restuccia, Nick Timiraos and Andrew (2020-06-26). "WSJ News Exclusive | White House Economist Tested Positive for Covid-19". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-06-27.
  3. ^ a b c Nick Timiraos, Trump Names Tomas Philipson as Second Member of Council of Economic Advisers, Wall Street Journal (August 14, 2017).
  4. ^ a b c d Heather Long & Jeff Stein, Trump to name Tomas Philipson, a health-care expert, as his next chief economist, Washington Post (June 29, 2019).
  5. ^ Casey B. Mulligan & Tomas J. Philipson, Economists: No, the tax bill won't kill people — it will save lives, Washington Post (December 11, 2017).
  6. ^ Nick Timiraos & Kate Davidson, Acting Chairman of Council of Economic Advisers Is Named, Wall Street Journal (July 15, 2019).
  7. ^ Top White House economist set to depart amid coronavirus recession, Politico (June 24, 2020).
  8. ^ a b Tankersley, Jim (March 31, 2020). "White House Economists Warned in 2019 a Pandemic Could Devastate America". The New York Times.

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Political offices
Preceded by Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers

Succeeded by