PhD profile

Wei Zheng’s research on the Child Tax Credit featured by Niskanen Center

PhD candidate Wei Zheng’s job market paper “Child Tax Credit and Maternal Labor Supply” has been featured in a post by the Niskanen Center:

New research finds the Child Tax Credit promotes work

From the post:

“The work incentive created by the Earned Income Tax Credit has been the subject of extensive study for decades now, with generally positive results. The pro-work potential of the Child Tax Credit (CTC), in contrast, has been relatively ignored.

A new job market paper from Wei Zheng, a PhD candidate at the University of Connecticut, attempts to fill this gap in the literature. Using event study and simulation techniques, Zheng provides new and detailed estimates of the effect of the Child Tax Credit on maternal labor supply. The headline finding: a $1000 increase in the average CTC is associated with a 1.1 percentage point increase in labor force participation for single mothers.”

More information about Wei Zheng and her research may be found online at

Zheng Xu Defends Dissertation, Stays at Harvard

ZhengDefenseOn August 28th, Zheng Xu defended his dissertation, “Developing in the Era of Globalization: The Case of China” written under the supervision of major advisor Professor Delia Furtado and associate advisors, Professor Nishith Prakash, Professor Kathleen Segerson, and Professor Richard Freeman from Harvard University.

Zheng’s dissertation studies how globalization has reshaped China in terms of the labor market, environment, and media. The first chapter examines how rising demand for Chinese exports affects Chinese labor markets. Particular emphasis is given to how the massive internal migration in China shapes the labor market consequences of trade. The second chapter studies whether party-newspapers in China are less likely to report local pollution events and whether the difference distorts households’ self-protective behaviors against potential health risks. The third chapter uses the list of environmental goods endorsed by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to test whether export production improves air quality in China through adoption of green inputs.

Since September of 2013, Zheng has been a research fellow in the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. In 2014, he received a CLAS Graduate Fellowship which helped support his time at Harvard. Zheng has already started a new position as postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities.

Congratulations, Zheng!

Sining Wang at IFREE

IFREE-logoAs other graduate students battle the winter snow, PhD student Sining Wang will be spending a week in January in Southern California. Sining has been selected to participate in IFREE’s Twentieth Annual Visiting Graduate Student Workshop in Experimental Economics. IFREE is the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics and was established in 1997 by Vernon L. Smith, a Nobel Prize winner for his pioneering research bringing experimental methods to economics. The workshop will be held at Chapman University, Vernon Smith’s academic home. In the week-long session, Sining will participate in experiments, learn about experimental results and techniques, and have a chance to present his own research to leading faculty in experimental economics.

Xiaoming Li defends dissertation and heads to Freddie Mac

Xiaoming Li defended his PhD dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Ross on Monday, April 25, 2011.

Theoretical models and empirical analyses argue that mortgage underwriting is a dynamic process in which previous mortgage and housing market conditions affect current mortgage approvals. Neighborhoods likely differ in important ways and over important events or shocks that influence both housing prices and mortgage underwriting decisions. This potential endogeneity complicates the causal analyses and failure to control for neighborhood heterogeneity risks confounding spurious and true state dependence. Xiaoming’s dissertation attempts to examine the housing dynamics and distinguish between sources of time persistence on neighborhood mortgage underwriting. Specifically, Xiaoming extends traditional and recently developed dynamic panel data techniques for use of repeated, clustered cross-sectional individual mortgage applications linearly and nonlinearly, respectively.

Xiaoming now heads to Freddie Mac as a Credit & Prepayment Modeling, Senior. We wish him the best of luck!

Alumna Yanna Wu reports on life after UConn

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke could unfortunately not make it to the “Life after UConn” event organized by the Association of Graduate Students in Economics last Friday. Instead, Yanna Wu spoke.

Dr. Wu graduated with a Ph.D. in economics from UConn in 2004, under the supervision of Prof. Ray. Right after that, she joined PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. in their New York office. She currently is a manager in the transfer-pricing group, which is a part of the tax practice, providing tax and economic consulting services for multinational enterprises on their inter-company pricing arrangements. Transfer pricing is a multidisciplinary field that encompasses accounting, tax, economics, finance, and law. Her main responsibilities include project solicitation and management.

Dr. Wu covered the following topics: (i) the current job market for new Ph.D. graduates in economics; (ii) potential job opportunities; (iii) differences between working in academia and in industry; (iv) how graduate students can prepare for the job market; and (v) her experience. After the lecture, Dr. Wu answered questions from graduate students.

Juan-Pedro Garces defends his dissertation and heads South

Juan-Pedro Garces defended on 4 August 2010 his dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Susan Randolph. The main topic of his dissertation is how education contributes to economic development. In one of the chapters, he pays special attention to the quality of education, trying to determine whether private schools deliver more educational quality than public ones, with special reference to the case of Chile, his native country. The dissertation also tackles the issue of the influence of population density on productivity, and how is affected by the level of education of the population. For this purpose, the study uses panel data on a sample of more than 100 countries, mostly developing ones. The third chapter of the dissertation focuses on institutions, testing the mainstream literature on the effects of institutional governance on economic growth and development. His work tries to determine the way in which the level of education affects institutional governance, finding a new channel through which education can enhance economic growth.

Juan-Pedro will be a visiting instructor at Wake Forest University, North Carolina.

Gulgun Bayaz-Ozturk defends thesis and heads to CUNY

Gulgun Bayaz-Ozturk defended her dissertation on July 20, 2010 under the supervision of Prof. Kenneth Couch. Her dissertation titled “Three Essays on Income Inequality” analyzes the contribution of labor market inequality to overall income inequality in the light of demographic changes in the United States from 1970s into the mid 2000s. In addition, she carries out a cross-national comparison and investigates the trends in intra-generational mobility and the underlying factors of educational earnings differentials in the United States and West Germany.

In September, Gulgun starts her new job as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging and Longevity at Hunter College of the City University of New York.

Michael Stone defends thesis and heads to Quinnipiac University

On June 28, 2010, Michael Stone defended his dissertation entitled “Three Essays on the Economics of Tort Law.” Stone’s dissertation focused on three distinct areas relating to tort law: the enactment of caps on punitive damages, the impact of taxable costs statutes on settlement rates, and the optimal level of attorney advertising intensity. In the first of these papers, Stone utilized hazard analysis to uncover some support for an economic model justifying caps on punitive damages, though there was evidence that political pressure by the legal services and insurance industries played a role in cap enactment. In his second essay, Stone utilized an ordinary least squares regression with a wild bootstrap and HC3 correction to find some evidence that taxable costs statutes (laws which permit the victorious party at trial to recover authorized litigation-related expenses from the losing party) decreased the rate of settlement. And, in his final essay, Stone produced a theoretical model which weighed the benefits of deterrence against the costs of litigation and advertising to obtain an optimal level of attorney advertising intensity. Each of these works was prepared under the tutelage of his major advisor, Professor Thomas Miceli.

This fall, Stone will be heading to Quinnipiac University as a visiting assistant professor of economics.

Maroula Khraiche defends thesis, heads to Colorado College

Maroula Khraiche defended her dissertation on Monday, June 7th 2010. Entitled “Essays on the Economics of Labor Migration,” her dissertation analyzes the macroeconomic effects of migration patterns that are influenced by different types of policy. In particular, she examines the popularity of temporary worker permits based on how the presence of temporary workers affects the earnings of various demographic groups within a host country. She also examines the implications of trade policy, and how reduced trade restrictions can result in increased migration from a country. Finally, she also considers how labor market policies such as the minimum wage can affect migration across sectors with a developing economy. In all her work, conducted under the supervision of her adviser, Prof. Christian Zimmermann, Maroula uses calibrated theoretical models to generate predictions, and then tests those predictions using empirical data.

Next year Maroula will be an Assistant Professor of Economics at Colorado College. Although she will undoubtedly miss the economics department here at UConn, Maroula is very excited about her new position and new department. We wish her the best of luck.

Lei Chen defends, takes positions at UConn

Lei Chen defended his dissertation in April 2010. His thesis focused on the productivity and efficiency of general dental practices in the U.S. His research lies at the intersection of applied microeconomics, health economics, and operations research. He is going to take a joint position of assistant professor in residence at UConn Health Center and UConn Avery Point. During his study at our department, Lei worked with his major advisor, Prof. Subhash Ray on a variety of projects and published a couple of papers in journals such as the International Journal of Production Economics and the Indian Economic Review.

At the UConn Health Center, Lei will continue doing empirical studies in dental care, especially the effectiveness and efficiency of dental services at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). He will also teach principles of macroeconomics and principles of microeconomics at the UConn Avery Point campus in the next academic year.