Announcements

Women in Economics Symposium

On February 27, 2020, two Economics students from the Storrs campus (Daija Brunson and Pershae Gilling) and one Economics student from the Stamford campus (Viviana Castillo) got the chance to travel to Cleveland, OH, for a Women in Economics Symposium. In the morning of the event the students got the chance to meet Research Assistants for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and ask them questions about their journey so far. A lot of insight was given by the Research Assistants and they were very helpful in providing guidance to the students about what they should do in the future.

The students also got the chance to tour the bank and they were even able to go down to the cash processing center where they could see how automation plays a big role in their daily processes.

The symposium was held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and included keynote addresses from Dr. Lisa Cook, Director of the AEA Summer Program and Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Founder of Economic Education Institute. In addition, during the symposium the students got the chance to sit through different discussion panels with topics about what to do with a degree in economics, how to get a PHD, and how to navigate the workforce as a female.

During the reception they got a chance to meet other students and employees from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, including Dr. Loretta Mester, the President and CEO of the bank. Overall, the full day was filled with a lot of information and it provided the students with a lot of guidance as to what they should do in the future. The students came back feeling very energized and excited as to what the future holds for them.

 

Written by Viviana Castillo and Dr. Natalia Smirnova

Women and Girls’ Day at the Capitol 2020

On March 6, 2020, Dr. Natalia Smirnova and Dr. Tianxu Chen represented the Economics Department at the “Women and Girls’ Day at the Capitol 2020” cohosted by The Governor’s Council on Women and Girls, The Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity & Opportunity; and The Women’s Suffrage Commission.

The theme for the event was CELEBRATE – CONNECT – INSPIRE:

To CELEBRATE the progress made by women in honor of Women’s History Month and the 100 Year Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage.

To CONNECT the state community to resources and opportunities that are available to the public, such as:

  • Career information.
  • Health & safety services and information.
  • Women leaders in STEAM and underrepresented fields — hence Economics!
  • Resources for women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.

To INSPIRE women and girls to design their own paths (providing a broad scope of role models for them to become inspired).

The intended audience for the day was female high school juniors and seniors, and women from across Connecticut. A total of 300 individuals attended, with half of them being high school aged girls. Both Dr. Smirnova and Dr. Chen were excited to share their love of economics with the attendees. The event was worthwhile for everyone!

Professor Shor’s Article a Finalist for the 2019 Decision Analysis Special Recognition Award

Professor Shor’s article, Optimizing Choice Architectures, was one of three finalists for the 2019 Decision Analysis Special Recognition Award, awarded annually to the best paper published in the journal, Decision Analysis, in the previous year.

The paper (coauthored with Tibor Besedes, Sudipta Sarangi, Cary Deck, and former UConn PhD student Mark Schneider) examines numerous ways to improve decision making from a large set of options. Different methods work for different people, and the paper identifies the source of this heterogeneity.

Professor Harmon’s SSRN Working Paper on Data Visualization is Top 5 Downloaded Paper

The Social Science Research Network (SSRN), a platform for dissemination of early-stage research, recently announced their all-time top ten downloaded  papers in the topic Data Visualization.  Oskar Harmon’s paper “Learning Tableau: A Data Visualization Tool” with Steven Batt, and Paul Tomolonis was among that list.

“Doing economics” and “data literacy” are becoming important themes of undergraduate economics  programs.  This paper introduces 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 an undergraduate economics  capstone course or an empirical methods course.

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/topten/topTenResults.cfm?groupingId=3506979&netorjrnl=jrnl

PhD Candidate Kevin Wood published in Health Economics

PhD Candidate Kevin Wood’s paper “Health Insurance and Retirement: Evidence from the Affordable Care Act” has recently been published in Health Economics.

Abstract:

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has provided millions of Americans with medical insurance but may have led to an increase in retirement among older individuals who are utilizing the newly available coverage options as a substitute for employer‐provided insurance. Using data from the American Community Survey from 2009–2016, this hypothesis is tested by estimating the effect of the premium subsidies and Medicaid expansions of the ACA on retirement transitions for the non‐Medicare eligible cohort of older Americans aged 55–64. Research results indicate a 2% and 8% decrease in labor force participation resulting from the premium subsidies and Medicaid expansions, respectively. Slightly larger estimates are found among a subgroup of adult couples. The study also finds suggestive evidence of crowd‐out of employer‐sponsored insurance by subsidized marketplace plans but finds no such effects from the Medicaid expansions.

https://doi.org/10.1002/hec.3959

 

Graduate Student, Shiyi Chen, Interviewed by AEA about her Poster

PhD student, Shiyi Chen, presented a poster of her paper, “Affirmative Action and Interracial Marriage,” at the 2020 ASSA Meetings in San Diego.

The paper looks at how state affirmative action policies, enacted mostly in the 1970s and 1980s, affected the likelihood of interracial marriage. Prior work has shown that that these policies, which apply only to public sector workers, led to increases in minority representation in the workplace. By comparing the likelihoods of black-white marriage, before vs. after a policy was enacted in a state and depending on whether a person works in the public sector, Shiyi explores whether the increased on-the-job contact between people of different races also resulted in more interracial marriage. The paper shows that indeed white males became more likely to marry black females after after being exposed to state affirmative policies, a result perhaps suggesting that interracial contact – even when induced by public policy – improves race relations more broadly.

The AEA interviewed select poster presenters at the conference, and Shiyi’s poster was chosen to be highlighted. You can watch her discuss her work below.

https://www.aeaweb.org/conference/videos/2020/shiyi-chen

Professor Ross’s HCEO Working Paper on Friendship Effects is Top 5 Downloaded Paper

The Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group (HCEO) at the University of Chicago announced their top five downloaded working papers of 2019.

Steve Ross’s paper “The Consequences of Friendships: Evidence on the Effect of Social Relationships in School on Academic Achievement” with Jason Fletcher and Yuxiu Zhang was among that list.

In that paper, they show that female students experience substantial improvements in their academic performance when they have more friends from an advantaged economic background, i.e. friends whose mothers completed four years of college.  These effects may arise in part because girls with such friendships are also better integrated into their school environment.

https://hceconomics.uchicago.edu/research/working-paper/consequences-friendships-evidence-effect-social-relationships-school-academic

Professor Miceli Publishes The Paradox of Punishment

Book Cover: The Paradox of Punishment Reflections on the Economics of Criminal JusticeProfessor Thomas Miceli has published The Paradox of Punishment: Reflections on the Economics of Criminal Justice.

From the publisher:

This book explores the insights that can be gained by looking at the criminal justice system from an economic point of view. It provides an economic analysis of the institutional structure and function of the criminal justice system, how its policies are formulated, and how they affect behavior.

Yet it goes beyond an examination of specific policies to address the broad question of how law influences behavior. For example, it examines how concepts such as the possibility of redemption affect the decisions of repeat offenders, and whether individual responsibility is (or should be) a pre-requisite for punishment. Finally, the book argues that, in addition to the threat of criminal sanctions, law inculcates principles of acceptable behavior among citizens by asserting that certain acts are “against the law.” This “expressive function” of law can influence behavior to the extent that at least some people in society are receptive to such a message. For these people, the moral content of law has more than mere symbolic value, and consequently, it can expand the scope of traditional law enforcement while lowering its cost.

Another goal of the book is therefore to use economic theory to assess this dualistic function of law by specifically recognizing how its policies can both internalize an ethic of obedience to the law among some people irrespective of its consequences, while simultaneously threatening to punish those who only respond to external incentives.

https://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9783030316945#aboutBook