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Emma Aguila

Associate Professor

Ph.D. in Economics
University College London, UK

Sol Price School of Public Policy
Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall, 226
Los Angeles, CA 90089


Emma Aguila is an Associate Professor at the USC Sol Price School of Public of Policy. She was previously a Senior Economist and Director of the RAND Center for Latin American Social Policy (CLASP). Dr. Aguila earned her Bachelor’s Degree at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de Mexico in Mexico City. She completed her master’s and Ph.D. in Economics at University College London in the United Kingdom. Her research interests include pension reform, saving for retirement, and social security coverage and labor dynamics of immigrants.

Dr. Aguila has received several awards for her work on pension reform in Mexico. Her study on the effects of pension reform (pay-as-you-go versus fully-funded systems) on private savings and consumption received the first prize in pensions in 2005 from CONSAR, Mexico. In 2007, Dr. Aguila’s study on social security systems, pension provision, and retirement behavior in Mexico received the Inter-American Award for Research in Social Security. In 2008, she received the RAND Gold Merit Award for her contributions to social policy in Latin America.

Dr. Aguila has published two books examining aspects of income security in retirement, social security, health, and migration: (1) United States and Mexico: Ties That Bind, Issues That Divide and (2) Living Longer in Mexico: Income Security and Health. She has also authored several articles in top-ranking scientific journals.

Dr. Aguila has significant experience designing and implementing field experiments and longitudinal surveys. She is currently leading a randomized control trial analyzing the impact of a non-contributory pension program in the State of Yucatan, Mexico. She is advisor of the Mexican Health and Aging Study (MHAS) survey in Mexico and the Social Protection Survey (EPS) in Latin America.

Dr. Aguila’s 12 years of professional experience has informed her research agenda. She has worked as a researcher for the chief economist team at the Department of Work and Pensions in the United Kingdom, as a consultant in projects for the World Bank, and on the research staff of the Mexican Ministry of Finance, the Mexican Ministry of Energy and the Mexican National Population Council.


Aguila, E. (2018). Non-contributory pension programs and frailty of older adults: Evidence from Mexico. PLoS One13(11).

Vega, A., Porteny, T., & Aguila, E. (2018). The Role of Clinics in Determining Older Recent Immigrants’ Use of Health Services. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health20(6), 1468–1475.

Aguila, E., Kapteyn, A., & Perez-Arce, F. (2017). Consumption Smoothing and Frequency of Benefit Payments of Cash Transfer Programs. The American Economic Review107(5), 430–435.

Blanco, L., Aguila, E., Gongora, A., & Duru, O. (2017). Retirement Planning Among Hispanics: In God’s Hands? Journal of Aging & Social Policy29(4), 311–331.

Vega, A., & Aguila, E. (2017). Foreign retirement income among new older immigrants in the United States. International Migration55(3), 38–56.

Aguila, E., Angrisani, M., & Blanco, L. (2016). Ownership of a bank account and health of older Hispanics. Economics Letters144, 41–44.

Aguila, E., Guerrero, E., & Vega, W. (2016). Sociodemographic characteristics associated with alcohol use among low-income Mexican older adults. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy11(17), 16.

Aguila, E., Mejia, N., Perez-Arce, F., Ramirez, E., & Rivera Illingworth, A. (2016). Costs of Extending the Noncontributory Pension Program for Elderly: The Mexican Case. Journal of Aging & Social Policy28(4), 325–343.

Aguila, E., Cervera, M. D., Martinez-Salgado, H., & Weidmer, B. (2015). Developing and Testing Informed-Consent Methods in a Study of the Elderly in Mexico. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.

Aguila, E., Fonseca, R., & Vega, A. (2015). Self-Employment, Health Insurance, and Return Migration of Middle-Aged and Elderly Mexican Males. In W. Vega, K. Markides, J. Angel & F. Torres-Gil (Eds.), Challenges of Latino Aging in the Americas (pp. 103). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

Aguila, E., Kapteyn, A., & Smith, J. P. (2015). Effects of Income Supplementation on Health of the Poor Elderly: The Case of Mexico. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(1), 70-75.

Aguila, E., Mejía, N., Pérez, F., Rivera, A., & Ramírez, E. (2015). Pobreza y Vulnerabilidad en México: El Caso de los Jóvenes que no Estudian ni Trabajan. Estudios Económicos, 30(1), 3-49.

Aguila, E. (2014). Male Labor Force Participation and Social Security in Mexico. Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, 13(02), 145-171.

Aguila, E., Hurd, M. D., & Rohwedder, S. (2014). How do Management Fees Affect Retirement Wealth under Mexico’s Personal Retirement Accounts System? Latin American Policy, 5(2), 331-350.

Aguila, E., Borges, A., Kapteyn, A., Robles, R., & Weimar, B. (2014). A Noncontributory Pension Program for Older Persons in Yucatan, Mexico. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.

Aguila, E., Escarce, J., Leng, M., & Morales, L. (2013). Health Status and Behavioral Risk Factors in Older Adult Mexicans and Mexican Immigrants to the United States. Journal of Aging and Health, 25(1), 136-158.

Aguila, E., & Zissimopoulos, J. (2013). Ruhestands- und Gesundheitsleistungen fur aus den Vereinigten Staaten zuruckkehrende mexikanische Arbeitsmigranten. Internationale Revue fur Soziale Sicherheit, 66(2), 115–143.

Aguila, E., & Zissimopoulos, J. (2013). Retirement and Health Benefits for Mexican Migrant Workers Returning from the United States. International Social Security Review, 66(2), 101-125.

Aguila, E., Akhmedjonov, A., Basurto-Davila, R., Kumar, K. B., & Shatz, H. J. (2012). How can Economic and Political Ties between the United States and Mexico be Strengthened? Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.

Aguila, E., Kapteyn, A., Robles, R., & Weidmer, B. (2011). Experimental Analysis of the Health and Well-Being Effects of a Non-Contributory Social Security Program. RAND Corporation Working Papers, (WR-903). (Under review).


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