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.

Prof. Zimmermann co-organizes conference on the Macroeconomics of Health

Prof. Zimmermann is co-organizing a conference on the Macroeconomics of Health this week at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The study of health economics has traditionally been the realm of applied microeconomics. There is, however, an increasing awareness that health issues also have macroeconomic consequences. A prime example is the AIDS epidemic, which has fundamentally changed the labor market, as well as many other markets, in parts of Africa. Closer to home, the cost of health care is putting a new burden on governments and businesses; indeed, in his recent press conference, President Obama said that health care reform was at the forefront of economic and public policy. Also, demographic changes can change households’ saving behavior to a point of affecting capital accumulation and thus growth.

The conference seeks to build new synergies between macroeconomics and health economics, first by assembling the macroeconomists working on health issues, second by encouraging interaction with traditional health economists. The covered topics are broad, from the impact of tropical diseases on developing economies to health care reform in the United States.

For more details about the conference, see the UCSB Laboratory for Aggregate Economics and Finance.

Two faculty named CESifo Fellows

Prof. Matschke and Prof. Zimmermann have recently been named Fellows of the CESifo Institute in Munich. The CESifo Research Network brings together leading economists from around the globe and constitutes an ideal platform for the discussion of current applied and theoretical themes in economics, with an emphasis on public policy issues. The research network offers a wide range of network activities and functions as both a research tool and a publication platform for its members.

CESifo Fellows are internationally renowned economists who, after a research stay at CES or Ifo, have been invited to join the CESifo Research Network. Fellows may attend any CESifo-organised conference of their choosing, receive all CESifo publications, and benefit from additional CESifo services. Some Fellows further contribute to the network activities by organising conferences, acting as Coordinator for a given Network Research Area, becoming a member of the European Economic Advisory Group at CESifo, or a research professor at the Ifo Institute.

This brings the number of CESifo Fellow at the department to three, as Prof. Tripathi already is holding this honor.

Prof. Zimmermann encourages blogging on economic research

Blogs have become a popular medium to discuss all sorts of things, and this blog is an example of that. With the predicted decline of academic journals, new models of disseminating and discussing research are explored, and blogs could be one of them. In economics, however, most blogs are discussing current events and are rather politicized. Those that discuss research are few and unknown. To promote them, Prof. Zimmermann (IDEAS) has created a year ago a blog aggregator devoted to economic research, Econ Academics. The future will tell whether research blogs will be successful.

Latest issue of Indian Economic Review features three articles with UConn connections

In a rare coincidence, all three lead articles on the Indian Economic Review, a top journal in India, have a UConn connection. The first is authored by Rangan Gupta (IDEAS) a 2005 PhD alumnus very recently promoted to full professor at the University of Pretoria: Financial Liberalization and a Possible Growth-Inflation Trade-Off. The second is authored by Basab Dasgupta, a 2005 PhD alumnus: Endogenous Growth in the Presence of Informal Credit Markets in India: A Comparative Analysis Between Credit Rationing and Self-Revelation Regimes. And the third is authored by Prof. Ray, currently faculty at UConn: Are Indian Firms too Small? A Nonparametric Analysis of Cost Efficiency and the Optimal Organization of the Indian Manufacturing Industry.

Both Gupta and Dasgupta were advised by Prof. Zimmermann (IDEAS). The first article is also available as a University of Pretoria working paper, and the latter two articles as UConn working papers: 1, 2, 3.

Economic Rights Group Begins 6th Year

Initiated by Lanse Minkler (Economics) (IDEAS) and Shareen Hertel (Political Science) (IDEAS) in the fall of 2004, the Economic Rights Group (ERG) has grown to include sixteen UCONN faculty members and nine “Affilitate” scholars. Participating Economics faculty also include Samson Kimenyi, Susan Randolph (IDEAS), Christian Zimmermann (IDEAS), and, most recently, Thomas Miceli. But the group also features a wide range of scholars from departments and schools like Political Science, Sociology, and Geography, to Law, Social Work, and Medicine. The ERG operates under the umbrella of the Human Rights Institute, itself a result of the Human Rights Initiative of the university.

The central purpose of the ERG is to investigate issues surrounding the fundamental human right of to a decent standard of living, as described in article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The group meets four or five times a semester to discuss seminal readings, and increasingly to consider original research generated by ERG members. Some of that research is included in the nascent ERG Working Paper Series. Additionally, the group meets at an annual day-long workshop to intensively investigate a specific topic annually. At this past April’s most recent ERG workshop in April 2009, for example, ERG members and affiliates presented their research on the state of economic rights in the U.S. The topic of the 2009 workshop mirrors the upcoming conference to be sponsored by the Human Rights Institute, entitled Human Rights in the USA.

Human Rights in the USA is an international three-day conference will take place from October 22 to October 24 that takes place at both the Storrs and Law School campuses. While we often think of human rights violations as only occurring elsewhere, the purpose this conference is to assess the state of human rights right here at home. There will be three economic rights themed panels: Economic Rights and Poverty; Katrina Through an Economic Rights Lens; and Researching Economic Rights in the USA. The entire UCONN community is invited to attend the conference and to learn about the state-of-the-art research in human rights.

For more information see: Economic Rights Group, Human Rights in the USA conference, Human Rights Institute.

PhD alumnus listed among top 100 young economists

Rangan Gupta (IDEAS) is a 2005 graduate, advised by Prof. Zimmermann (IDEAS) whose career is off to a flying start. A tenured professor at the University of Pretoria (South Africa) and a very prolific author, he is now listed among the 100 top young economists on RePEc. As of this writing, he is listed at rank 97 for those with 10 years or less in their career. With four more years of eligibility, his ranking is sure to improve even more.

Recent graduate Tsvetanka Karagoyozova heading to Lawrence University

This fall our alumnus, Tsvetanka Karagyozova, will join Lawrence University in Appleton, WI as an Assistant Professor of Economics. A liberal-arts institution charted in 1847, Lawrence was among the first colleges in the United States to be founded coeducational.

Tsvety defended her thesis in 2007 under the guidance of Prof. Christian Zimmermann (IDEAS) and spent the last two years as a post-doctoral teaching fellow at the University of British Columbia. Tsvety’s research interests are in the field of financial economics, and more specifically in asset pricing and the economics of insurance. She is interested in how financial markets operate in the presence of informational asymmetries and in new models of individual decision-making in economics.

Natalya Shelkova defends thesis, heads to Guilford College

Natalya Shelkova (IDEAS) defended her thesis on Thursday, May 21 2009 under the supervision of Prof. Zimmermann (IDEAS). In her research she studies the possibility of collusion by low-wage employers at the non-binding minimum wage. She tests this hypothesis empirically in the chapter titled “Low-wage labor markets and the power of suggestion”, a version of which is a part of both our department’s working paper series as well as Princeton University’s Industrial Relations Section working papers series. She also constructed a search-theoretic model that allows for partial collusion at the minimum wage, resulting in replication of both the minimum wage spike and wage dispersion.

In August Natalya starts her new job as an Assistant Professor of Economics at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. Guilford College, established in 1837 as one of the country colleges founded by Quakers, is strongly committed to the ideals of peace, social justice and equality. The Quakers of Greensboro cared for the wounded soldiers on both sides during the American Revolutionary War, and harbored runaway slaves seeking to escape to the North during the antebellum era. Natalya is very excited about her new job and about the opportunity to work and contribute to such a historic place.

Article by PhD alumnus Rangan Gupta among the hottest in Journal of Economics and Business

Elsevier recently announced that an article by Rangan Gupta (IDEAS) in the Journal of Economics and Business was among the most downloaded on its site. Tax evasion and financial repression was one of the chapters of his UConn PhD dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Zimmermann (IDEAS).

Using an overlapping generation model, Gupta studies how tax evasion interacts with financial repression, as expressed by a high reserve deposit ratio requirement in banks. Applied to southern European countries, he finds that a higher degree of tax evasion, resulting from lower penalty rates and higher corruption, produces in a social optimum higher degrees of financial repression. However, higher degrees of tax evasion, due to lower tax rates, tend to reduce the optimal degree of financial repression. Thus, there are asymmetries in the relationship between reserve requirements and tax evasion. More importantly, tax evasion and financial repression are positively correlated if and only if the change in the former results from an alteration in the penalty rate or the level of corruption.