Professors Harmon, Smirnova, and PhD Candidate Conant participate at Conference on Teaching and Research in Economic Education

Professors Harmon, Smirnova, and PhD Candidate Conant participated in the Ninth Annual AEA Conference on Teaching and Research in Economic Education (CTREE), in St. Louis, Missouri, May 2019.

Professors Oskar Harmon and Natalia Smirnova organized and moderated the panel “The College Fed Challenge: Discussion of Participating in an Existing Competition or Organizing a Competition in your Federal Reserve District”. The panelists were the faculty organizers of the regional Fed Challenge competitions in 4 of the 5 Fed Districts that sponsor a Fed Challenge competition, and the organizer of the finals round at the Fed Board of Governors in Washington DC. The discussion focused on two themes. One was a comparison of the similarities and differences in the structure of the competitions across regions and the effect on team outcomes in the national finals. Second was strategies to the geographic challenges and the difficulties facing the non-eastern states 8 reserve districts, only one of which competes (Chicago) relative to the 4 east coast districts, all of which compete.

Paul Conant and Oskar Harmon presented their paper “Teaching of Sports Economics by Reacting to the Past”. They presented a real-world scenario (RWS) assignment that is an adaptation of the “reacting to the past” teaching style. In this style students learn by taking on roles, informed by articles from the period of the event. They participate in a competitive game using the communication skills of speaking and writing, and analytical skills of critical thinking and problem solving. The specific RWS discussed in this paper will consist of students answering the historical event question: Should college athletes be allowed to unionize? The Case of Northwestern 2014. Students are assigned roles which can force them to combat their preconceived notion about the issue and help students consider different perspectives on the issue. We hope to merge the sociopolitical world with neoclassical economic learning in order to help students understand the nuance of pertinent world issues.

Natalia Smirnova also assumed an active role at the conference. She was a discussant of two papers. One paper presented the use of Excel for teaching students a Health Economics addiction model; and the second paper analyzed the reasons for female students’ attrition from the first Economics course they took and not becoming Economics majors at UC Berkley. Both papers were well received and generated debates among sessions’ participants.

Professor Smirnova extended her stay in St. Louis to explore Team-Based Learning (TBL) techniques. The TBL workshop was sponsored by the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) initiative. Professor Smirnova is encouraged to bring new techniques into her classroom.

Professor Prakash a Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School

Professor Nishith Prakash has received an appointment as a fellow with the Women and Public Policy Program (WAPPP) at Harvard Kennedy School.


The Women and Public Policy Program of Harvard Kennedy School closes gender gaps in economic opportunity, political participation, health and education by creating knowledge, training leaders, and informing public policy and organizational practices.

Our research provides evidence-based insights on the role of gender in shaping economic, political, and social opportunities available to individuals. We identify successful interventions and measure their impact on women, men, and society, then share recommendations on what policies, organizational practices, and leadership techniques help close involuntary gaps.

We train today’s leaders and prepare future leaders to create a more gender equal world, while providing women with skills and tools to successfully navigate existing systems. We draw on Harvard University’s unparalleled faculty expertise and its global reach to impact the thinking of those who make decisions across sectors.

No other organization in the world builds on behavioral insights to create evidence-based organizational designs that can promote women’s empowerment, overcome gender bias, and provide equal opportunities for women and men, like the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard Kennedy School. And no other entity provides assistance to organizations with the goal of consulting, learning and teaching at the same time, benefiting from the talent pool of Harvard faculty, students and fellows.


Economics Faculty Baggio, Lanza, and Zhao Receive Promotions

Congratulations to Economics faculty members Michele Baggio and Kai (Jackie) Zhao, who have received promotion to tenured Associate Professor, and to Steven Lanza, promoted to Associate Professor in Residence!

The UConn Board of Trustees approved the promotions, effective August 23rd, at the Board meeting on Wednesday, April 24th.

Professor Kao Publishes High Dimensional Econometrics and Identification

High Dimensional Econometrics and Identification, by Professor Chihwa Kao and co-author Long Liu, will be coming out in May.

From the Publisher:

In many applications of econometrics and economics, a large proportion of the questions of interest are identification. An economist may be interested in uncovering the true signal when the data could be very noisy, such as time-series spurious regression and weak instruments problems, to name a few. In this book, High Dimensional Econometrics and Identification, we illustrate the true signal and, hence, identification can be recovered even with noisy data in high-dimensional data, e.g., large panels. High-dimensional data in econometrics is the rule rather than the exception. One of the tools to analyze large, high-dimensional data is the panel data model.

High Dimensional Econometrics and Identification grew out of research work on the identification and high-dimensional econometrics that we have collaborated on over the years, and it aims to provide an up-to-date presentation of the issues of identification and high-dimensional econometrics, as well as insights into the use of these results in empirical studies. This book is designed for high-level graduate courses in econometrics and statistics, as well as used as a reference for researchers.


  • Preface
  • Panel Data Model with Stationary and Nonstationary Regressors and Error Terms
  • Panel Time Trend Model with Stationary and Nonstationary Error Terms
  • Estimation of Change Points in Stationary and Nonstationary Regressors and Error Term
  • Weak Instruments in Panel Data Models
  • Incidental Parameters Problem in Panel Data Models
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Readership: Graduate and researchers in the field of econometrics and economics.

High Dimensional Econometrics at the NE Statistics Symposium (NESS)

The Department of Economics will be sponsoring a session at the 33rd New England Statistics Symposium (NESS) on May 15–17, 2019.

High Dimensional Econometrics

The technological innovations in information processing and the increased storage capability have made possible to collect very large data sets in various fields of economics and finance.

This session puts together 3 papers that present state-of-the-art techniques to deal with high dimensional issues in econometrics.

List of invited speakers:

(1) Fa Wang, Cass Business School,, “Maximum Likelihood Estimation and Inference for High Dimensional Nonlinear Factor Models with Application to Factor-augmented Regressions”

(2) Yuan Liao, Rutgers Economics,, “Inference for Heterogeneous Effects Using Low Rank Estimation”

(3) Min Seong Kim, UConn Economics,, “Policy Analysis Using Panel and Multilevel Models with Group Interactive Fixed Effects”

Discussant: Jungbin Hwang, UConn Economics,

Session Chair: Chihwa Kao, UConn Economics,

Information about the conference may be found online at

PhD Students to Present at New York Camp Econometrics XIV

Three of our PhD students, Zhonghui Zhang,  Huarui Jing, and Rui Sun, will be presenting their research at the New York Camp Econometrics XIV poster session in April:

“Mahalanobis Metric Based Clustering for Fixed Effects Model,” Chihwa Kao (University of Connecticut), Min-Seong Kim (University of Connecticut), and Zhonghui Zhang (University of Connecticut).

 “The Robustness Study of Sieve Estimation on Asset Pricing Model,” Huarui Jing (University of Connecticut).

 “Bias-Corrected Estimators in the Dynamic Panel Data Model,” Chihwa Kao (University of Connecticut), Long Liu (University of Texas- San Antonio) and Rui Sun (University of Connecticut).

For more information about the conference, see: New York Camp Econometrics XIV

Graduate Students in the Big Apple to Present New Work

Graduate students Shiyi Chen, Edlira Cocoli, Treena Goswami, Xin Liang, and Patralekha Ukil presented papers at the Annual Conference of the Eastern Economics Association in New York, Feb. 28–Mar. 3. Paper titles are listed below. If you see them in the hallways, be sure to ask them about their research.

Shiyi Chen: Affirmative Action and Interracial Marriage

Edlira Cocoli: The Impact of Promise Programs on Student Enrollment: A Nationwide Analysis of Enrollment Impact by Gender, Race and Program Type

Treena Goswami: High Skilled Immigrant Inflows and More Managerial Natives?

Xin Liang: Early Retirement, Pension System and the High Saving Rate in China, University of Connecticut

Patralekha Ukil: Parental Economic Shocks and Infant Health

Have a look at a tweet about Patralekha’s presentation here, and you can see the full EEA program here.

UConn-Stamford FED Challenge Team Earns Honorable Mention at Competition in NYC

The UConn-Stamford FED Challenge team earned honorable mention in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York 2018 College FED Challenge competition. This marked the third consecutive year of participation in the competition by the Stamford Campus team and the first time advancing to the semi-final round. The competition started with 39 teams in the initial round on October 24. The UCONN-Stamford team advanced to the semi-final round held on November 14 among only eight teams. Rutgers University-New Brunswick placed first and advanced to the final round held in Washington DC November 29. Columbia University placed second. UConn-Stamford earned Honorable Mention along with Fairfield University, Fordham University, Siena College, and SUNY-Oneonta.

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 Federal Reserve Bank of New York is one of four Federal Reserve Banks that host the College Fed Challenge Competition. The regional winners go to the final round at the Board of Governors in Washington D.C.

UCONN-Stamford team was comprised of 3 presenters: Ignacio Gonzalez, Jonathan Herrick, and Brendan Armburst-Mulcahey. The team coach was Di Yang, (Stamford Business School MBA). The researchers who helped prepare the team for the competition were Aditya Dadavai, Sijie Hu, Lingyi Zhu, and Roma Roma (all in the Stamford Business School BPMA Program). Faculty advisors were professors Natalia Smirnova, Steven Lanza, Kanda Naknoi, and Oskar Harmon. The team benefited from practice sessions of challenging questions with volunteer members of the Fairfield Business Community.

The team participants shown in the picture at the awards ceremony at the FRBNY are (from left to right): Brendan Armburst-Mulcahey, Di Yang, Natalia Smirnova, Jonathan Herrick, Ignacio Gonzalez, Oskar Harmon.

Professor Randolph receives Grawemeyer Award for Improving World Order

Professor Susan Randolph has received the Grawemeyer Award for Improving World Order. Professor Randolph’s work is being furthered through the Human Rights Measurement Initiative, HRMI (pronounced Her Me) – – targeted to human rights advocacy groups and civil society.

As described in an article for UConn Today by Kathryn Libal, Director of UConn’s Human Rights Institute:

UConn Professor Recognized for ‘Improving World Order’

Longtime University of Connecticut professor Susan Randolph received the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Improving World Order, which honors those who take on issues of global concern and present ideas that inspire others and can lead to a more just and peaceful world.

Randolph, the Gladstein Committee Member and Professor Emeritus in Economics, was jointly recognized for the 2019 award from the University of Louisville along with collaborators and book co-authors Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, of The New School in New York City, and Terra Lawson-Remer, Stanford University.

The three were named co-winners for the ideas set forth in their book, Fulfilling Social and Economic Rights. The work, published in 2015 by Oxford University Press, offers a method for gauging how well nations are providing basic human rights of food, health, education, housing, work and social well-being to their citizens and suggests how they can advance such rights even further.

The trio used the United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights as a basis for their work, creating a new tool, the Social and Economic Rights Fulfillment (SERF) Index, to measure nations’ progress toward human rights goals. Their book also sheds light on policies that advance human rights and explains how use of these policies and public pressure can lead to results.

“Scholars working across disciplines have used the SERF to forge new tools for shaping policy and scholarship, driving more inclusive and dynamic approaches to economic development,” said Shareen Hertel, co-director of UConn’s Research Program on Economic and Social Rights.

Although the authors noted there has been steady progress in social and economic rights fulfillment over the past 30 years, they found that disparities still exist in every region of the world. Their measurement tool is aimed at helping governments and other organizations address those disparities.

In 2016, the book won the American Political Science Association’s Human Rights Section Best Book Award.

Previous winners of the Grawemeyer Award for Improving World Order include Mikhail Gorbachev, honored for his 1988 address to the United Nations which led to the effective end of the Cold War and paved the way for the democratization of Eastern Europe and the Baltic republics; Trita Parsi, for his work toward reducing tensions in the Middle East; and Dana Burde, for her work examining the influence foreign-backed funding for education has on war-torn countries and how such aid affects humanitarian and peace-building efforts.

Recipients of the 2019 Grawemeyer Awards are being named this week pending formal approval by university trustees. The annual, $100,000 prizes reward outstanding ideas in music, world order, psychology, education and religion. Winners visit Louisville in April to accept their awards and give free talks on their winning ideas.