Pilot Project Approved for Professor Agüero and PhD Student Mendiola

Professor Jorge Agüero and third year PhD student Miranda Mendiola’s proposal “Role models: Information and Gender Stereotypes” for a pilot project, sponsored by the Innovation Laboratory for Cost-Effective Educational Policy – MineduLAB in the Peruvian Ministry of Education, has been approved.

Their project has the objective of reducing gender stereotypes and improving grades for high school students through the use of role models. Traditionally, efforts to reduce gender gaps have focused on empowering women. Professor Agüero and Miranda’s project focuses on changing the perception of both genders’ abilities by showing students movies that have young main characters being successful in careers that are nontraditional for their gender. They hope to improve women’s scores in STEM courses, where they traditionally perform worse, and also to improve men’s scores in courses they traditionally struggle with (Spanish and history). They will measure changes in gender bias through a questionnaire and a game, with the objective of measuring both explicit and implicit biases. 

This project will hopefully be a pilot for a larger project in Peru, aiding in the reduction of gender bias in Peruvian schools.

Professor Ray publishes in Empirical Economics

Professor Subhash Ray published his recent paper “Unrestricted geometric distance functions and the Geometric Young productivity index: an analysis of Indian manufacturing” coauthored with Arnab Deb (Associate Professor, International Management Institute New Delhi) and Kankana Mukherjee (Associate Professor, Babson College) in Empirical Economics.

At this point, the paper is available online at https://doi.org/10.1007/s00181-020-01925-0.

Both of his coauthors are his former PhD students: Arnab Deb (PhD UConn 2012) and Kankana Mukherjee (PhD UConn 1997).

Professors Harmon and Tomolonis Publish in Journal of Economic Education

JEE LogoOskar Harmon and Paul Tomolonis (UConn PhD 2017) have co-authored the article “Learning Tableau – A data visualization tool”, published in the Journal of Economic Education.

ABSTRACT: “Doing economics” is an important theme of undergraduate economics programs. Capstone courses increasingly include instruction in “data literacy” and the STEM-related skills of quantitative and empirical methods. Because the professional discipline has moved in this direction and because of greater employer demand for these skills, data visualization is a key component of data literacy. Tableau is a free data visualization software widely used in the data analytics industry. In this article, the authors introduce an exercise that teaches the fundamental Tableau concepts and commands needed to create charts, assemble them in a dashboard, and tell a story of patterns observed in the data. The exercise assumes no prior experience in Tableau and is appropriate for undergraduate upper-level economics courses or an empirical methods course.

The article is available at the JEE website

NBER Releases Research on COVID-19 Impacts on Minority Unemployment Co-authored by UConn Economics Faculty

A working paper has been released by the National Bureau of Economic Research that examines the impact of COVID-19 on minority unemployment through the most recent release of Current Population Survey (CPS) data for April of 2020.

The research finds that unemployment of blacks (at 16.6 percent) has not been impacted as severely as during past downturns although their unemployment rate is above the national average of 14.7 percent.  In comparison, Latinx unemployment (at 18.2 percent) has been much more impacted than in recent months or the Great Recession.  Historically, unemployment of blacks would be greater than that of Latinx throughout the business cycle.  In the April CPS data, for the first time, unemployment of Latinx is higher.  The analysis reveals that the disproportionate impact among the Latinx is related to lower levels of education, less work experience, and a concentration of employment in industries and occupations that left them more vulnerable to job loss.

The research is co-authored by Robert Fairlie of the University of California Santa Cruz, UConn Faculty member Ken Couch, and Huanan Xu of Indiana University South Bend.  Xu is an alumni of the UConn Ph.D. program in economics.

The working paper can be found at this link:


Professor Agüero Published in AER Papers and Proceedings

Professor Jorge Agüero’s article “Is Community-Based Targeting Effective in Identifying Intimate Partner Violence?” has been published in the American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings:

Is Community-Based Targeting Effective in Identifying Intimate Partner Violence?
Jorge M. Agüero, Úrsula Aldana, Erica Field, Veronica Frisancho and Javier Romero

We measure the effectiveness of community-based targeting to identify victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) in rural Peru. In 254 villages, we collected self-reported data on IPV via a DHS-style questionnaire and compared it to a listing of women elicited from female community leaders. The results indicate that IPV is widely underreported by leaders: on average, leaders report an IPV rate of 17.9 percent, and when asked to name individuals, report only 7.7 percent of women. Both numbers are well below the 38.3 percent measured through self-reports. Overall, the evidence does not support community-based instruments for identifying IPV victims or rates.


UConn Researchers Awarded Grant to Study Domestic Violence and COVID-19

UConn’s Nishith Prakash and Lindsey Buck, along with coauthors Maria Micaela Sviatschi and Sofia Amaral were awarded a $76,000 grant from Princeton in order to study COVID-19’s implications on domestic violence.

Project Title: Macroeconomic Shocks and Domestic Violence: Evidence from COVID-19


Domestic violence (DV), defined as stalking, rape, or physical violence, is a global problem with 35% of women worldwide reporting experiencing DV (WHO 2017). In this project, our goal is twofold. First, we aim to look at COVID-19 – a large macroeconomic and health shock — on an important outcome from a welfare perspective: domestic violence (DV). DV is an important outcome to study because it has large financial and health implications; DV survivors suffer reductions in earnings and poor health (Aizer, 2011) and the CDC spends $5.8bn annually on health costs related to DV (St. Jude House). Second, we also aim to test two interventions that are likely to determine pathways to aid victims of DV during a pandemic: one consists of providing labor market opportunities for women and a second one on providing information on how to identify and respond in DV cases. We will sample 4000 women in the U.S. on the M-Turk platform and collect information on their financial, emotional, and relationship stress levels. Then, we provide two interventions. The first treatment will provide information on the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH), where trained advocates are available to talk confidentially and provide resources on DV. We will also provide the NDVH’s resources on healthy relationships, legal help, and conflict resolution. The second treatment will provide a cash transfer to women for completing tasks on M-Turk; in this way we will increase women’s labor market opportunities at home. Our results will shed light on two important questions: First, can information mitigate the effects of DV? Secondly, can labor market opportunities mitigate the effects on DV? Our goal is to look at the broad implications of COVID-19 on DV and illustrate policy opportunities to mitigate DV in the wake of an unprecedented macroeconomic shock.

More information on the project can be found here: https://www.eeassoc.org/index.php?site=JEEA&page=298&trsz=299 and in a recent article in UConn Today:

How will COVID-19 Affect Domestic Violence?

Associate Professor of Economics Nishith Prakash and graduate student Lindsey Buck are part of a research group that was awarded a $76,000 grant from Princeton University to study COVID-19’s implications on domestic violence. They will test two interventions that are likely to determine pathways to aid victims of domestic violence during a pandemic: One consists of providing labor market opportunities for women, and a second one that provides information on how to identify and respond in domestic violence cases.


CLAS Faculty and Students Shifting Work to COVID-19

Deadline to Apply to Masters of Science in Quantitative Economics extended until June 1st

We understand and sympathize with the difficulty that many of you have faced during the Covid-19 crisis, and imagine that many of your future plans have been upset.  Given that some of you may be looking for new options for the fall, we have decided to re-open admissions to the Masters of Science in Quantitative Economics (MSQE) to start this fall (2020) until June 1.  

The MSQE program is a three semester, rigorous calculus based master’s program in Economics that is designed to provide students with advanced skills in econometrics, forecasting, machine learning, empirical finance and other quantitative techniques that are highly valued in the labor market.  Students will learn to program in both R and Python. Some of our recent graduates from the MSQE program have landed jobs at Cigna, The Hartford, Lockheed Martin, McLagan, Travelers and Pratt & Whitney. 

Economic majors and minors who have completed at least two semesters of calculus who are strong in mathematics, or math and statistics majors who have completed some economics coursework (or are willing to complete coursework over the summer), would be excellent candidates for this program.  If you would like more information about how to apply, please contact Ms. Rosanne Fitzgerald at rosanne.fitzgerald@uconn.edu.  If you have general questions about the program focus and content, please contact Professors Kim at min_seong.kim@uconn.edu or Ross at stephen.l.ross@uconn.edu. More information is also available at the following website https://msqe.econ.uconn.edu/.

We wish you well during the next very challenging year and hope that this expanded application period will provide some of you with a needed opportunity.