Professor Shor publishes new explanation for the Allais paradox

jbdmThe Allais Paradox is one of the most enduring violations of expected utility theory, a hallmark theory of economics. Professor Mike Shor and coauthor Mark Schneider (a recent UConn PhD) have had their paper “The Common Ratio Effect in Choice, Pricing, and Happiness Tasks” accepted by the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making.

In the paper, Professor Shor elicits preferences for the Allais paradox choice alternatives using three different methods: traditional choice, monetary valuation, and subjective happiness ratings. He finds that both the consistency and distribution of responses differs systematically across different elicitation methods, with modal choices replicating the Allais preference pattern, modal happiness ratings exhibiting consistent risk aversion, and modal valuations maximizing expected value. The paper finds support for a dual process framework in which people use either a “logical” or an “intuitive” thinking process depending on the task.

Professor Harmon presents at Morgan Le Fay Center

harmonAt the symposium “Understanding Our Neurodiverse World: Teaching Business and Economics to Students Who Learn Differently,” on Saturday, October 1, 2016, Professor Oskar Harmon gave an invited presentation on Universal Design in Online Instruction.

The keynote speaker was Paul McCulley, former chief economist and managing director at Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO).  The other speakers at the day long symposium included Peter Fisher, J.D., senior lecturer at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, and Manju Banerjee, Ph.D., VP of Research and Innovation at Landmark College.

The symposium was sponsored by the Morgan Le Fay Center for Advances in Business, Economics, and Entrepreneurship, Landmark College, Putney, VT.

Two Economics Undergraduate Students Selected as 2017 University Scholars

Congratulations to Economics students Rebecca Hill and Lucas Silva Lopes, who are among the twenty-three University of Connecticut undergraduates who have been selected as the 2017 University Scholars:

Rebecca Hill
Major: English/Economics
Project Title: The Western Madwoman: A Feminist History and Economic Study in Novel Form
Committee: Ellen Litman, English (chair), Veronica Makowsky, English & Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Delia Furtado, Economics

Lucas Silva Lopes
Major: Political Science/Economics
Project Title: Presidential Interruptions and Interim Presidents: How Do Latin American Countries Re-Equilibrate Both Politically and Macroeconomically After a Presidential Interruption?
Committee: Matthew Singer, Political Science (chair), Veronica Herrera, Political Science, Derek Johnson, Economics

“The University Scholar Program is one of the most prestigious programs for undergraduates at the University of Connecticut. Available to students from all of the University’s schools and colleges, the University Scholar Program allows students to design and pursue an in-depth research or creative project and to craft an individualized plan of study that supports their intellectual interests during their final three semesters. Each student is mentored by an advisory committee of three faculty.

No more than 30 University Scholars are selected each year. Admission is based on an application submitted during the first semester of a student’s junior year. Applications are reviewed by an interdisciplinary faculty committee that looks for innovative projects and academically rigorous course selection. Graduation as a University Scholar recognizes a student’s exceptional engagement in research and/or creative endeavors.”


A New Master of Science in Quantitative Economics (MSQE) Program

The Department of Economics has a new MS program, now accepting applications to start in Fall 2017.

The Master of Science in Quantitative Economics (MSQE) Program emphasizes the development of skills in quantitative methods and data analysis, as well as the application of those skills to economic problems.  The program combines training in economic principles/theory with strong training in quantitative and analytical methods.

The program qualifies as a STEM program.  It is designed for individuals who seek careers in public and private sectors, including, for example, insurance companies, health care providers, think-tanks, financial consultancies, accounting firms, and academic institutions.

The program requires a minimum of 30-credits and typically is completed over three semesters.   Due to course sequencing, students are only admitted to the MSQE program for the Fall semester.

Details about the specific requirements of the program may be found online at:

Econ Undergraduate Students Present at the NY and Boston Fed Challenges

Stamford Econ Undergraduates Present at NY Fed ChallengeCongratulations to the undergraduate students from the Stamford and Storrs campuses who took part in the College Fed Challenge this month!

Sponsored by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, the “College Fed Challenge is a team competition for undergraduate students. Teams analyze economic and financial conditions and formulate a monetary policy recommendation, modeling the Federal Open Market Committee.”

The Stamford team (above left) participated in the NY Fed Challenge, competing against forty-one other schools.

The Storrs team (below right) presented at the Boston Fed Challenge, competing against twenty-four other New England schools.

Storrs Econ Undergraduates Present at Boston Fed ChallengeCongratulations to both teams on all of their hard work in this competition!

Stamford Team:

Joanna Ksiazek
Chris McLaughlin
Amir Parikh
Shrey Patel
Alex Rojas
Ravinder Singh
Dr. Julia Coronado (Advisor)
Professor Oskar Harmon (Advisor)
Professor Steven Lanza (Advisor)
Professor Kanda Naknoi (Advisor)

Storrs Team:

Patrick Adams
Matt DeLeon
Erik Eason
Gabriel Hack
Ed Leardi
Stephen Mwangi
Matt Regan
Joe Roessler
Professor Owen Svalestad (Advisor)

Professor Prakash publishes in American Economic Journal: Applied Economics

Professor Nishith Prakash’s paper “Cycling to School: Increasing Secondary School Enrollment for Girls in India“, with Karthik Muralidharan, has been accepted for publication in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

In this paper, the authors “study the impact of an innovative program in the Indian state of Bihar that aimed to reduce the gender gap in secondary school enrollment by providing girls who continued to secondary school with a bicycle that would improve access to school.

Using data from a large representative household survey, we employ a triple difference approach (using boys and the neighboring state of Jharkhand as comparison groups) and find that being in a cohort that was exposed to the Cycle program increased girls’ age-appropriate enrollment in secondary school by 32% and reduced the corresponding gender gap by 40%. We also find an 18% increase in the number of girls who appear for the high-stakes secondary school certificate exam, and a 12% increase in the number of girls who pass it. Parametric and non-parametric decompositions of the triple-difference estimate as a function of distance to the nearest secondary school show that the increases in enrollment mostly took place in villages that were further away from a secondary school, suggesting that the mechanism of impact was the reduction in the time and safety cost of school attendance made possible by the bicycle.

We also find that the Cycle program was much more cost effective at increasing girls’ secondary school enrollment than comparable conditional cash transfer programs in South Asia.”

Professor Prakash is following up on this work with his new project, ‘Wheels of Change: Impact of Cycles on Female Education and Empowerment in Zambia’.  For more information, see Professor Prakash Studies the Impact of Bicycles on Female Education and Empowerment in Zambia

Professor Zhao a Panelist on China’s Macroeconomy, Urban Growth and Policy Analysis

Kai ZhaoProfessor Zhao was a panelist at The 9th Annual Conference on China’s Economic Development and the U.S.-China Relationship, held at The George Washington University. The panel was on China’s Macroeconomy, Urban Growth and Policy Analysis.

In it, Professor Zhao discussed his recent research on the Chinese Saving Rate.

The full schedule of the conference can be found online at:

Professor Coşgel Publishes Book

Economics of Ottoman Justice Book CoverProfessor Metin Coşgel has published The Economics of Ottoman Justice (Cambridge University Press, November 2016) with coauthor Boğac Ergene.

“During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Ottoman Empire endured long periods of warfare, facing intense financial pressures and new international mercantile and monetary trends. The Empire also experienced major political-administrative restructuring and socioeconomic transformations.

In the context of this tumultuous change, The Economics of Ottoman Justice examines Ottoman legal practices and the sharia court’s operations to reflect on the judicial system and provincial relationships. Metin Coşgel and Boğaç Ergene provide a systematic depiction of socio-legal interactions, identifying how different social, economic, gender and religious groups used the court, how they settled their disputes, and which factors contributed to their success at trial. Using an economic approach, Coşgel and Ergene offer rare insights into the role of power differences in judicial interactions, and into the reproduction of communal hierarchies in court, and demonstrate how court use patterns changed over time” – Cambridge University Press

Professors Alpert, Lanza, Furtado, and Shor Present to Early College Experience Instructors

In a recent workshop for nineteen University of Connecticut Early College Experience Instructors, Professors Mike Shor, Steve Lanza, Delia Furtado and Bill Alpert presented the principles instructors with current economic thinking concerning game theory, the law and economics, effects of immigration on the domestic labor market, and monetary/macroeconomics for principles level students.

The Early College Experience (ECE) program is a concurrent enrollment program that allows motivated high school students to take UConn courses at their high schools for both high school and college credit. Every course taken through UConn ECE is equivalent to the same course at the University of Connecticut. Students benefit by taking college courses in a setting that is both familiar and conducive to learning. High school instructors who have been certified through the University of Connecticut serve as adjunct faculty members and teach UConn ECE courses.

Professor Furtado offers a well-received presentation concerning her own research on female immigrants and immigration issues generally in the United States today

Established in 1955, UConn Early College Experience is the nation’s longest running concurrent enrollment program and is accredited by The National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships. In the last decade, the Economics Program has grown from two instructors in two Connecticut high schools to almost 40 instructors in 30 Connecticut high schools offering the Principles of Economics classes and Economics 1000.

For more information see:

The First Biannual Austin Seminar in Education Policy

Amy Ellen SchwartzProfessor Amy Ellen Schwartz, the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Chair in Public Affairs at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, will present The Impact of Universal Free Meals on Student Outcomes as the speaker at the first biannual Austin Seminar in Education Policy.

The lecture, co-sponsored by the Center for Education Policy Analysis, the Neag School of Education, and the Department of Economics, and presented jointly with the Health, Labor and Development seminar series of the Department of Economics, will be held:

Tuesday, October 25th
3:00 – 4:30 pm
Gentry 142, 144

A reception will follow the seminar.

The Abstract:  This paper investigates the academic effects of providing school meals free of charge to all students.  Using detailed data on NYC public school students, we estimate the impact of  “Universal Free Meals” (UFM) on standardized test scores,  participation in school meals, obesity and BMI.

Using a difference in difference design and novel student-level transaction data, we explore the heterogeneity of the impact by student race/ethnicity, poverty, and, critically, prior participation in school lunch.  Most important, we find that UFM significantly increases academic performance of middle school students by as much as 0.1 sd, large enough to pass a commonly used threshold for a successful academic intervention.

UFM increases lunch participation by roughly 5.2 percentage points for poor students and larger effects of 13.5 percentage points for non-poor students.  Similarly, the effect of UFM is larger for students with low baseline participation, than those with high baseline participation.   Finally, we find some evidence of reductions in weight and obesity for non-poor students driven, perhaps, by the better nutritional value of school lunch compared to  competitive alternatives.