Robert Breunig's picture

Robert Breunig

Professor and Director, Tax and Transfer Policy Institute


Ph. D. (Economics), University of California Riverside, 1998

Bachelor of International Studies, School for International Training, 1987

Contact details

Robert Breunig is the director of the Tax and Transfer Policy Institute at the Crawford School of Public Policy. From 2015 to 2016 he was the Director of the Crawford School of Public Policy.

Professor Breunig is one of Australia’s leading Public Policy Economists. He has published in over 75 international academic journals in economics and public policy. Professor Breunig has made significant policy impact through a number of his research projects: the relationship between child care and women’s labour supply; the effect of immigration to Australia on the labour market prospects of Australians; the effect of switching to cash from food stamps in the U.S. food stamp program and the inter-generational transmission of disadvantage.

Professor Breunig’s research is motivated by important social policy issues and debates. His work is characterized by careful empirical study and appropriate use of statistical technique.

Professor Breunig’s research agenda has led to many partnerships with government organizations in Australia and overseas. He works regularly with the Australian Treasury, the Department of Employment, the Department of Education, the Department of Industry, the Department of Communication and the Arts, the Productivity Commission, the Australian Bureau of Statistics as well as many other agencies. He has been a consultant to the private sector on marketing, mergers, bank competition and customer loyalty programs.

Robert Breunig particularly enjoys interaction outside of typical academic circles and takes pleasure in helping those who don’t usually use economics or statistical analysis to better understand and make use of these tools in their work. He has an extensive track record of helping the Australian public service to build research capacity which he views as a particularly important activity.

COVID-19 Expertise

Professor Robert Breunig is an expert on the Australian tax and transfer system. He is working on policy solutions around tax reform that will help Australia’s post-pandemic economic growth. His focus is on the inadequacy of the current tax system to place Australia in a strong position for recovery from COVID-19. He is working on broad-based tax reform grounded in empirical evidence and cutting edge economic theory.

Research interests

Robert Breunig has a wide variety of research interests in applied topics in labour economics, economics of the household, empirical industrial organization and econometric theory.

Recent publications and working papers have included work on:

  • The effect of playgrounds on property prices in Melbourne
  • Inequality and economic growth
  • Financial stress of Indigenous Households
  • Financial stress caused by drought in rural households
  • The effect of cash transfers at birth on educational outcomes
  • Women’s labour supply
  • Optimal child care policy
  • The wage gap between immigrants and non-immigrants in Australia
  • The effect of immigration on wages and labour market outcomes of native Australians
  • Innovation and outsourcing
  • Research and Development spillovers
  • Wage inequality
  • Probit panel data models (theoretical econometrics)
  • Firm-level productivity
  • Sovereign ratings and resources
  • Elasticity estimation in transport economics
  • Merger policy
  • Household financial difficulty

Robert Breunig is one of the instigators of the Youth in Focus. project. This is a major data gathering initiative and research project focused on gaining a better understanding of how disadvantage and advantage are transmitted from one generation to another.


Professor Breunig teaches POGO8081: Economics for Government to students in the Master of Public Policy and Master of Public Administration.

Professor Breunig offers a wide variety of courses designed to improve research capacity of government public servants and fellow academics. See the “advisory work” tab on this web page.

Updated:  22 July 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team