Caitlin Profile Photo

Caitlin McMurtry is a sixth-year PhD candidate in Health Policy at Harvard University, focusing on Political Analysis. Broadly, her research examines the ways in which policies and politics interact to affect health and democracy in the United States. Her job market paper uses a systematic review and meta-analysis of archival survey data to compare political polarization during the COVID-19 pandemic to 11 past disease outbreaks over nearly 70 years. Her findings indicate that polarization during COVID-19 is 5-7 times greater than any other public health emergency in modern American history when it comes to concern about infection and intention to receive a vaccine. Her dissertation also explores the role of money in health policy by (a) combining geospatial and econometric techniques to estimate the causal effect of televised political advertisements on voting for health policy via ballot initiatives and (b) examining the impact of a firearm deregulation policy promoted by interest groups on homicides, suicides, handgun sales, and crime.

Caitlin works as a Research Fellow at the Harvard Opinion Research Program, where she collaborates with a team to conduct public opinion surveys on the attitudes, experiences, and behaviors of adults in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers (ASTHO), and the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC). She has also designed and analyzed polls on health and social policies for Politico, NPR, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Her scholarly research has appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, Annals of Family Medicine, Milbank Quarterly, and Health Services Research, receiving coverage in the Washington Post and on NPR. Additionally, Caitlin's efforts as a teaching fellow (for seven courses in health policy, political strategy, and statistical methods) have earned her a distinction in teaching award from Harvard University and the Dean's Award for Excellence in Student Teaching from Harvard Kennedy School.