Sara Helms

Assistant Professor of Economics, Brock Scholars Program Coordinator


Contact Information

Phone: 726-4110
Office: Dwight Beeson Hall 310

Biographical Information

 Sara Helms, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Economics in the Brock School of Business, and is the Brock Scholars Program Coordinator.  She teaches principles of microeconomics, public policy, econometrics and MBA micro-economics. Dr. Helms is a Research Associate at the Lister Hill Center for Health Policy and an adjunct professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health.

Dr. Helms’ research interests include applied microeconomics and public policy, particularly in the areas of volunteering, charitable giving, education policy and public health policy. She uses both traditional econometric and experimental methods. A list of ongoing and completed research can be found on her SSRN page ( 

Dr. Helms has presented her work at the annual meetings of regional, national and international organizations, including the American Economic Association, Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management, Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Activity, Economic Science Association, Southern Economic Association, the American Time Use Research Conference, Association for the Research of Society, Economics and Culture, and at the Institute for Studies of Labor (IZA) in Germany and the American Time Use Research Conference.  

Dr. Helms is a member of the honor fraternities Phi Beta Kappa, Beta Gamma Sigma, Omicron Delta Epsilon and Omicron Delta Kappa. Visit Sara's website


PhD, Economics University of Maryland
MA, Economics University of Maryland
BA, Economics and Mathematics, Summa Cum Laude, St. Mary's College of Maryland
2009 University of Alabama at Birmingham Beta Gamma Sigma Professor of the Year
 2003 University of Maryland College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award
2001 and 2002 University of Maryland Department of Economics Teaching Award
 Helms, S. (2013). Involuntary Volunteerism: The Impact of Mandated Service in Public Schools. Economics of Education Review, 36, 295-310.
Helms, S., Scott, B., & Thornton, J. (2013). New Evidence on Charitable Gift Restrictions. Applied Economics Letters, 20 (17), 1521-1526.
Helms, S. & McKenzie, T. (2013). Gender Differences in Formal and Informal Volunteering in Germany. Voluntas, doi: 10.1007/s11266-013-9378-1.
Thornton, J. & Helms, S. (2013). Afterlife Incentives in Charitable Giving. Applied Economics, 45(19), 2779-2791
Helms, S. & Thornton, J. (2012). The Influence of Religiosity on Charitable Behavior: A COPPS Investigation. Journal of Socio-Economics, 41, 373-383
Diette, T. & Helms, S. Sweat the Small Stuff: The Effect of Small Incentive Changes on Participation in Service-Learning. International Review of Economic Education, forthcoming.
Helms, S., Scott, B., & Thornton, J. (2011). Choosing to give more: experimental evidence on restricted gifts and charitable behaviour. Applied Economics Letters, 19 (8), 745-748.
Abraham, K., Helms, S., & Presser, S. How Social Processes Distort Measurement: The Effects of Survey Nonresponse on Inferences about Volunteer Work in the United States. American Journal of Sociology, 114(4), January 2009: 1129-1165. [Also National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper, W14076]