Early College Experience (ECE) Economics Program Workshop

The Early College Experience (ECE) Economics Program presented a workshop on October 31 for Connecticut high school teachers offering Principles of Micro and Macro Economics (Econ 1201 and 1202) and Essentials of Economics (Econ 1000) in their high schools.  The economics program now has certified 39 instructors as either Adjunct Professors of Economics or Preceptors in Economics. Twenty-nine of them choose to attend the workshop.

The teachers were instructed on the economics of climate change by Wensu Li, one of UCONN’s knowledgeable graduate students who discussed what one could teach in the principles classes about climate change.  Professor Paul Tomolonis, Assistant Professor of Economics, Western New England University and Adjunct Professor of Economics University of Connecticut, reflected on earnings management with the workshop participants.  He used earnings managment as an example of misallocation of resources. Professor Stephen L. Ross, Professor of Economics, University of Connecticut described the importance of distinguishing between permanent shocks and transitory shocks to the macro economy and the day was concluded with Professor Dennis Heffley, Professor of Economics, University of Connecticut, Emeritus who addressed the workshop on the teaching of health economics at the principles level.

Finally, three of the teachers (Ms. Vancil, Shelton, Ms. Pelling, West Hartford, and Mr. Staffaroni from New Canaan) spent a few minutes over lunch to shared one of their learning experiences with their colleagues gained while attending the Joint Council on Economic Education Conference in New York City in early October.

UCONN ECE 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. Established in 1955, UCONN ECE is the nation’s longest running concurrent enrollment program and is accredited by The National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships.

Econ Dept. Well-Represented in Oxford Handbook of Land Economics

Three Department of Economics faculty members have published papers in the recently released Oxford Handbook of Land Economics, edited by Joshua Duke and Junjie Wu. The Oxford Handbook Series is a collection of specialized volumes, each containing papers from a particular area of economic research.

A chapter on “Regulatory Takings,” by Professors Thomas Miceli and Kathleen Segerson, offers a more general analysis of government actions that reduce private property values, pointing out that the difference between these partial “takings” and outright seizures of private property is largely a matter of degree.  Their model offers a unified approach to the wide variety of issues associated with zoning, environmental and safety regulations, historic landmark designation, requirements to provide access for the disabled, and many other public restrictions on private land use.  In addition to their economic analysis, they review key elements of the case law and legal literature on regulatory takings.

In another chapter, titled “Open Space Preservation: Direct Controls and Fiscal Incentives,” Professor Dennis Heffley and his co-author Ekaterina Gnedenko (Lecturer, Tufts University) review the economic literature on various types of land use controls, especially programs designed to protect and preserve open space.  They also develop and simulate a model showing that state grants to local governments, intended to reduce local fiscal pressure to permit more development, may actually result in more land being zoned for development and a reduction in open space.  An econometric analysis of fiscal data and satellite-image land use data for Connecticut towns further attests to the policy problem illustrated by the simulations

Latest issue of The Connecticut Economy sheds light on public revenue and spending

Connecticut continues to boast the nation’s highest per capita income, but the state is among the bottom four in the percentage of that income used to fund state and local public services, according to a report in the latest edition of The Connecticut Economy: A University of Connecticut Quarterly Review.

In a study seeking to empirically determine the optimal amount of funding states should devote to public services without adversely affecting a state’s economy, Steven P. Lanza, executive editor of the magazine, collected 16 years (1993-2008) of personal income and government spending data for the 50 states from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census of Governments. He finds that Connecticut under-spends on most government activities, including education and infrastructure, while spending more than the optimal amount on health care.

“Public spending in the Nutmeg state averaged just 17.6 percent of income in the years surveyed, more than six points below the optimal share,” Lanza writes. “With such a lean public sector, Connecticut essentially forfeited an additional 1.2 percent in yearly income it would otherwise have earned, had it adopted the optimal mix,” because public services could have been added that would have helped the private sector grow. According to the study, the optimal share of non-federal public spending is about 24 percent of income, somewhat higher than the 50-state average of 22 percent, and well above the figure for Connecticut.
Lanza also points out that public opposition in Connecticut to the expansion of government services may reflect dissatisfaction with the present tax mix, which seems to rely too heavily on property taxes and too little on “other revenue”—a category that includes tolls, excise taxes, or other special revenue sources.

The Connecticut Economy’s other editors, Prof. Dennis Heffley and emeritus Prof. Arthur W. Wright also weigh in with articles based on recent research. Wright considers whether the recent downturn in casino revenues can be staunched, and Heffley examines teacher salaries in Connecticut.

In addition to briefly tracing the history of Connecticut casinos—Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun—and their significant contribution to state and local revenues since the early 1990s, Wright examines the impact of the recent recession on this source of public funding. He also considers how the anticipated rebound in casino gaming revenue in Connecticut might be affected by the expansion or development of new casinos in surrounding states.

Professor Heffley compares the annual wages of teachers—pre-school, kindergarten, elementary, middle school, and high school—across states and finds that Connecticut ranked 9th, 4th, 3rd, 1st, and 4th, respectively, in May 2009. But, according to the same data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Connecticut also ranked 2nd in annual wages across all occupations. Relative to the all-occupation figure, Connecticut ranks 41st, 15th, 5th, 6th, and 17th in teacher pay for the five categories. At the March 15th press release, it was also noted that, relative to other states, Connecticut has been falling in the rankings of teacher pay over the last decade.

Read the complete issue of The Connecticut Economy here.

Prof. Heffley speaks in Athens

Prof. Dennis Heffley recently participated in a keynote session at the 6th Pan-Hellenic Congress on Health Management, Economics, and Policy (Athens, Greece, December 15-18, 2010). The session, chaired by John Kyriopoulos (Professor and Director, Department of Health Economics, National School of Public Health, Athens), focused on efficiency in health care. Professor Heffley’s paper on “Location Choices of Health Care Providers” presented a theoretical framework for understanding the factors that potentially affect providers’ location decisions, as well as an empirical analysis of the distribution of general care dentists and dental specialists across Connecticut’s 169 townships. Other session participants included Tryfon Beazoglou (Professor, School of Dental Medicine, University of Connecticut Health Center), Nurhan Davutyan (Professor, Department of Economics and Department of Industrial Engineering, Marmara University, Istanbul), and Gareth Goddier (Chief Executive, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, England).

Fall 2010 issue of The Connecticut Economy examines key election issues

Flagging economic growth and concerns about high unemployment have created a sense of urgency for mid-term election candidates as well as voters. The Fall 2010 issue of The Connecticut Economy: A University of Connecticut Quarterly Review analyzes several topics high on voters’ to-do lists, including job growth, tackling the state’s budget problems, reducing transportation bottlenecks, and increasing the competitiveness of Connecticut manufacturers.

The two major-party gubernatorial candidates, businessman Tom Foley (R) and Stamford mayor Dan Malloy (D), outline their goals for the economy in the issue’s “Forward Look” feature. Both candidates also addressed attendees at the September 8th press release event at the UConn Stamford campus, as part of the morning-long Fairfield County Economic Summit & Outlook symposium co-sponsored by CBIA, the Stamford Chamber of Commerce and the University of Connecticut.

Connecticut lawmakers managed to meet the constitutionally required “balanced budgets” for the current biennium (FY 2009/10 and FY 2010/11), yet the state still faces persistent structural deficits of about $3 billion per year, plus a roughly equal amount of unfunded liabilities for pension and retiree health insurance benefits promised to state employees. Noting, “This is not a problem we can simply wish away,” co-editor Arthur Wright sees this challenge as “Job One” for all state candidates.

With more than half of the state’s 1.6 million jobs concentrated in the Hartford and Bridgeport-Stamford market areas, commutes to work in these regions are often difficult and costly. Exploring how to make the journey to work more cost efficient – essential to stronger job growth in the state – Edward Deak, a professor of economics at Fairfield University, suggests several innovative traffic management solutions.

In election season, claims resurface that Connecticut is unfriendly to business. But co-editor Dennis Heffley and two colleagues, Professor Subhash Ray and Assistant Professor in Residence Lei Chen, challenge the state’s high-cost reputation in a study of manufacturing competitiveness that measures “overall unit costs” (labor, materials and energy, capital, and other costs such as temporary staff, data processing, advertising, and taxes and license fees). Using data from the 2007 Economic Census, the authors show that “high average wages do not necessarily imply high production costs.” Despite having the 4th highest wages for manufacturing production workers, Connecticut’s cost of producing a dollar’s worth of manufacturing output is 43rd highest among the 50 states. Only Oregon, North Carolina, Virginia, Arizona, New York, Wyoming, and New Mexico have a lower overall unit cost.

Analyzing voter turnout in 2006 – the last time Connecticut elected both a governor and a U.S. senator – Scott Condren, an economics major and Quarterly summer intern, examines the determinants of the earlier voter turnout (educational attainment, party affiliation, socioeconomic conditions, income, marital status, population density, and age) and discusses why the relative importance of some factors might change this year. He concludes that “…lessons from 2006 may not apply for 2010.” The centerfold of the current issue also maps the voter turnout percentage from the 2006 election and gives each town’s party registration breakdown.

Connecticut has not posted any significant nonfarm job gains in two decades. But when the self-employed are included in the count, the state’s job growth story changes. Steven Lanza, the Quarterly’s executive editor, finds that since the mid-1990s the ranks of the state’s self-employed have grown by 27,000 jobs annually. That’s a job growth rate of 1.3% per year, only slightly below the comparable U.S. average of 1.7%. Lanza also examines regional differences and public policy implications that result from “Connecticut’s recent growth in jobs due almost entirely to a swelling in the ranks of the self-employed.”

Other features of the fall issue include tables, charts, and commentary on regional labor market activity within the state and a forecast that stubborn unemployment rates will keep the state’s economy weak for some time, although the impact on Connecticut’s real gross domestic product may be less severe – 4.3 % by the current forecast compared with 5.5% previously predicted.

For free access to this and other issues of The Connecticut, dating back to 1993, visit: http://cteconomy.uconn.edu/.

Summer 2010 Issue of The Connecticut Economy: Summer Fun with a Dose of Reality

A rising tide of shopping and recreation activity along with a small surge in jobs offer hints that the recovery is making some waves. But the state’s budget crunch reminds us that it is still no day at the beach for Connecticut’s economy. With the economic climate improving, the Summer 2010 issue of ‘The Connecticut Economy: A University of Connecticut Quarterly Review’ explores the potential for baseball and winemaking to spur economic development. Mindful of the economic risks ahead, the magazine also examines the looming threat of the state’s unfunded pension liabilities.

A guest commentary by Robert Santy, President and CEO of the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, examines the convergence of forces that gave rise to the state’s 30 vineyards, making them a vibrant tourist draw and potential source of economic growth. Santy also spoke and responded to media questions at the June 8th press release of the summer issue at CERC’s Rocky Hill headquarters.

Rumor has it that Connecticut could be in line for a major-league baseball team. The state has a rich heritage of professional baseball (surely you recall the Hartford Dark Blues and the New Haven Elm Citys), and the Tampa Bay Rays — despite being perennial contenders in the American League East– cannot seem to attract a crowd in their current home. Executive Editor Steven Lanza analyzes the logic behind such a move and the potential benefits to the Nutmeg State of relocating the Tampa Bay team to “a geographic ‘sweet spot’ midway between Gotham and Beantown.”

Connecticut may need a good diversion: its unfunded liability for state retiree pensions and benefits totals $7,395 for every state resident, based on 2009 Census population figures. Compared with more populous states, Nutmeggers’ liability is 2.6 times New York’s, 3.2 times Massachusetts’, and 4.4 times California’s. Quarterly co-editor Arthur Wright and UConn economics professor emeritus Peter Barth examine the available “solutions” as Connecticut tries to honor its retirement promises to state employees.

Commercial winemaking in Connecticut began in the mid-1970s, and the industry, as in other states, has sought to encourage growth by promoting “wine tourism.” The spillover benefits of winemaking to other businesses–food, lodging, and entertainment–and its compatibility with farmland preservation goals might justify targeted subsidies or tax credits, similar to those offered to the film industry. Co-editor Dennis Heffley and graduate students Christopher Jeffords and Jeremy Jelliffe examine the features of winemaking that might warrant a public effort to promote its production, but they also note that such policies are not universally endorsed.

Other features of the summer issue include summaries of recent data and forecasts for the state’s largest labor market areas, as well as a centerfold map of public library resources and usage in each of the state’s 169 towns.

For free access to this and other issues of The Connecticut Economy, visit: http://cteconomy.uconn.edu/.

Anuarbe defends thesis and continues to teach at Connecticut College

Monika Lopez-Anuarbe defended her thesis on Friday, February 19, 2010, under the supervision of Prof. Dennis Heffley. Her dissertation examines the time and money transfers between elderly parents and their offspring, particularly inter vivos monetary gifts by parents and time assistance by children. Using a unique panel database containing detailed information on thousands of families over a 10-year period (1993-2002), Monika was able to uncover some interesting links that earlier cross-sectional studies have missed. The analysis suggests that intergenerational transfers between parents and their children are planned processes that unfold over time and are affected by the characteristics of the parents and the offspring. The study also helps to identify specific state policies that have been most effective in encouraging family-based health care for the elderly. As a graduate student, Monika taught courses at the Storrs, Hartford, and Avery Point campuses, as well at Trinity College and Wesleyan University. Since 2006, she has taught principles courses in microeconomics and macroeconomics, intermediate microeconomics, health economics and industrial organization as a Visiting Instructor at Connecticut College. For the past several years, Monika also has published various elements of her research (Long-Term Care Interface Journal, 2007), co-authored papers based on earlier team studies (Journal of the American Dental Association, 2005), and has presented her findings at several professional conferences and academic seminars.

Spring 2010 issue of The Connecticut Economy examines the state budget and local property markets

With jobs disappearing, unemployment growing and Connecticut facing an ongoing budget nightmare—in an election year no less—the Spring 2010 issue of The Connecticut Economy: A University of Connecticut Quarterly Review analyzes the state’s grim budget prospects, and examines the economic consequences of local policies—including zoning controls, taxes, spending and regional cooperation—that affect property values and the housing mix.

The latest issue examines the state’s economy and finds plenty to still raise concerns: high unemployment, slow job growth, and red-ink budgets at all levels of government. With education claiming a large portion of public spending, especially at the town level, “A Forward Look” by John Yrchik, Executive Director of the Connecticut Education Association (CEA), argues that Governor M. Jodi Rell’s use of federal stimulus money will disadvantage K-12 education when the extra funding runs out. Yrchik spoke and responded to media questions when editors of The Connecticut Economy presented their findings at a March 10th press release event at the Hartford offices of the CEA.

Connecticut has resorted to borrowing, one-shot fixes, and tinkering to balance its budgets; but those days will end in July 2011, contends Quarterly co-editor Arthur Wright in an analysis of the state’s enduring budget saga. That’s when Connecticut’s budget for the next biennium, FY2012-FY2013, begins. Whether the state’s political leaders cut the deficit via higher taxes or reduced spending, the challenge will be to choose the best combination, says Wright, adding: “Better as a state, and as individual voters, we begin facing such issues this year, with so many elections for State offices going on.”

There is little question that Connecticut is an old state and growing older. The 39.4 median age of the state’s population ranks it the 7th oldest state in the nation. So, if Connecticut hopes to replace its aging, retirement-bound baby-boomers with a cadre of younger workers, it has to import them with a mix of challenging jobs, good pay and affordable housing, notes Quarterly Executive Editor Steven Lanza. Yet, like towns all across America, Connecticut communities have long used zoning controls to regulate the pace, mix and location of development. Lanza examines whether zoning works at cross-purposes with broader public policy objectives such as attracting young professionals to a rapidly graying state.

To shed light on how local policies affect real property values, recent UConn PhD Ekaterina Gnedenko (Agricultural & Resource Economics) and co-editor Dennis Heffley apply an “open-city” model to examine how local public policies—including municipal taxes, spending, zoning and regional cooperation—affect property values. The model’s underlying assumption—that town officials seek to maximize local property values—is a controversial one. But they note that “…if property values reflect not just a town’s site and socioeconomic conditions, but also ‘how the town is run’—then public officials who seek to enhance property values may be serving the interests of their constituents well.”

The editors and Quarterly contributors also:

  • Map the change in percent of available land used for development purposes between 1985 and 2006 across Connecticut’s 169 towns, based on satellite images.
  • Provide a region-by-region look at Connecticut’s economic performance, analyzing jobs, unemployment, housing prices and permits for the state’s four largest market areas.
  • Use tables, charts and commentary to report labor market data for Connecticut, showing higher unemployment rates across the board.
  • Forecast deeper job losses than previously estimated, but the start of recovery during 2010 and 2011.

For free access to this and other issues of The Connecticut Economy, visit: http://cteconomy.uconn.edu/.

Phd Alumnus joins University of Reading

Anupam Nanda, 2006 PhD alumnus in Economics, has joined the faculty of Real Estate and Planning, Henley Business School at University of Reading (United Kingdom), one of the world’s leading centers for real estate education and research. His doctoral dissertation was advised by Prof. Stephen Ross, Prof. John Clapp, and Prof. Dennis Heffley. Previously, he worked with Deloitte , Market Intelligence group in Mumbai, and the Economics group of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in Washington DC. His research papers have appeared in Journal of Urban Economics and The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics. Anupam’s research interests are in real estate economics, empirical finance as well as urban economics and local public finance. He is currently working on the minimum services mandate for the real estate brokers.

Recent graduate works on the economics of obesity

Marina-Selini Katsaiti has recently completed her graduate studies at the Department of Economics of the University of Connecticut. Her PhD thesis, “Three Essays on the Economics of Obesity,” focused on different aspects relating to the economics of obesity (happiness, macroeconomic issues, health care costs). Selini defended her thesis in September 2009 under the significant and very valuable assistance and support of her advisor, Prof. Zimmermann, and associate advisors, Prof. Heffley and Prof. Randolph. Pieces of her thesis were presented in many international economics conferences and a section has been published in a book. In addition, an article outside her thesis, “Corruption and Growth Under Weak Identification,” co-authored with fellow graduates Philip Shaw and Marius Jurgilas has been accepted for publication by Economic Inquiry.

Selini is currently working as a researcher at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece), in the Department of Economics. In addition, she is working as an independent researcher for the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), a think tank in Belgium. Her research topics of interest include: economic growth, behavioral economics, corruption, trust and risk issues, and health economics.