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Founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary, Phi Beta Kappa is an undergraduate honors society that celebrates excellence in the liberal arts. Its long list of distinguished members—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, President Theodore Roosevelt, etc.—just got a little longer. UConn’s Epsilon Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa recently added 8 senior Economic majors to its list of members: Joseph Antelmi, Michael Samuel Bokoff, Tyler David Gold, John R. Harry, Yixian Lai, Margaret Lynn McCarthy, Eric Burton Roy, and Alex Keller Upton. The Department of Economics congratulates this group of outstanding students.

In a paper forthcoming in the American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings, Prof. Delia Furtado and coauthor, Heinrich Hock (Mathematica Policy Research), explore the role of immigration in explaining the labor supply and fertility decisions of high-education U.S. native women. The evidence presented in the paper suggests that low-skilled immigration decreases the price of childcare services, making it easier for career-minded women to combine work and family. The authors find that large inflows of immigrants to a city attenuate the negative relationship between female labor force participation and fertility, which translates into an increase in the proportion of women that both work and have a young child in the home.

Relative to women in most other developed countries, American women have very high rates of labor force participation and fertility. This is especially remarkable given how many countries have family leave and subsidy policies that are far more generous than those in the United States. The results in this paper point to immigration as a partial explanation for this phenomenon. Whereas most immigration research focuses on the reduced employment prospects of natives, this paper considers the potential benefits of immigration to high skill native women. Prof. Furtado plans to continue this line of research in future work.

Each May, the AER Papers and Proceedings publishes a sampling of the papers presented at the Annual Meeting of American Economics Association. A working paper version of the article is available here.

PhD student Catalina Granda-Carvajal (advisor, prof. Zimmermann) has been invited to present last week in an international workshop in Germany, “Shadow Economy, Tax Policy and Labor Markets in International Comparison: Options for Economic Policy“. This workshop was held at the University of Potsdam, near Berlin, with the aim to demonstrate advances in the analysis of shadow economic activity and discuss how these can be used for better economic policies. Granda’s paper, entitled “The Unofficial Economy and the Business Cycle: A Test for Theories”, uses official data to establish a set of business cycle features and study how they vary across countries with the size of the unofficial sector, and compares these empirical regularities with the predictions of existing theories on macroeconomic fluctuations in economies featuring underground activities.

After having the chance to exchange ideas with young scholars and with some of the world experts in the field, Granda has been faced with the uncertainty imposed by the volcanic ash cloud in Iceland. Being stuck in Berlin has not been an easy situation; however, she reports “I have spent some time sightseeing, visiting museums and, overall, taking advantage of such a ‘forced tourism’. With plenty of history while trying to stand as a leader in arts and promoting Western values, now I understand why this city is one of the most exciting places in Europe. All in all, I cannot complain, but I cannot wait for the flight back to Storrs to share with my friends and colleagues how this experience has enriched my life and view of things.”

How did you spend your winter break? For most students it did not include more course work! But for 1,152 UConn students it was an opportunity to take an intensive two-week Winter Intersession course. Five of the 55 Winter 2010 classes offered at the Storrs campus were online courses. Classes began December 28, 2009 and ended January 15, 2010–only 19 calendar days for a course that usually spans a 15-week semester. One of the online courses was Econ 1201, Principles of Microeconomics, taught by Prof. Oskar Harmon. Students taking the course signed up for 16 days of online lectures, homework, and exams, with two days off for New Year’s Eve and Day, and one day to prepare for a proctored cumulative 2-hour final exam.

Some students apparently had second thoughts about spending their entire winter break immersed in economics: only 30 of the 45 students who initially signed up for the course remained enrolled when the class began. Two of the four course exams were proctored. Most students sat for the proctored exams in the Center for Undergraduate Education (CUE) building at Storrs, but some took the exams at other campuses (UConn-Stamford, University of Rochester, and University of Maryland).

Twenty-seven students completed the course, and the average score on the cumulative final exam differed by only one point from the average final exam score in the same course taught by Professor Harmon in the regular Fall 2009 term. Students in the two courses had similar self-reported GPAs and a similar distribution of majors, but students in the winter course typically were closer to graduation: about 40% were seniors compared to only about 20% in the fall course. Also a much larger percentage of students were not working during the winter course (45%) than during the fall course (20%). In an exit poll, students were asked: “Knowing what you know now, would you recommend a similar intensive online course to a friend?” and “Can you describe the experience of taking a 16-week course in a 2-week term?” About 25% of the respondents would definitely take a similar course and consistently described the experience as “intense, but a good use of my time.” About 50% would possibly recommend this intersession course to a friend. Their descriptions of the experience ranged from: “Really hard; if you are not fully committed to this course you will not do well,” to “Very, very challenging. I put so much effort into doing well in the course and I was still struggling. A lot of information to tackle in 2 weeks.” And 25% would likely or definitely not recommend the course to a friend, describing the experience as: “Not recommended, too compressed,” and “Econ is much too hard to learn over the Internet.”

An email from a student who completed the 2-week micro course and is now taking the companion 16-week macro course describes the experience as an “immersion” and notes that: “I feel like I’m slacking when I don’t pick up a macro book everyday, because my mindset from micro was all day every day.”

Why is there a remarkable stock market rally in the midst of the worst recession (depression) since 1930? While we hear explanations of every day’s rise and fall of the indices (e.g., the “whatever” numbers were not as bad as expected, or they were better than anticipated), the obvious answer is that a few serious investors have studied their (arcane) National Income and Product Accounting. The stock market is rising because extraordinarily high corporate profits are just around the corner. This is what Prof. Alpert writes in a contribution to the American Thinker blog.

American Thinker is a daily internet publication devoted to the thoughtful exploration of issues of importance to Americans. Contributors are accomplished in fields beyond journalism, and animated to write for the general public out of concern for the complex and morally significant questions on the national agenda.

There is no limit to the topics appearing on American Thinker. National security in all its dimensions, strategic, economic, diplomatic, and military is emphasized. The right to exist and the survival of the State of Israel are of great importance to us. Business, science, technology, medicine, management, and economics in their practical and ethical dimensions are also emphasized, as is the state of American culture.

The Economic Rights Group (ERG), consisting of about 16 UConn faculty from six different departments including economics, and 10 Affiliated faculty from around the US, holds its 4th annual day long workshop on Saturday April 17. The topic of this workshop is the measurement of government effort towards economic rights fulfillment. It will investigate three measurement approaches: regression residuals, the production possibilities frontier, and the budgetary approach. Economics faculty member Susan Randolph developed the production possibilities approach along with ERG affiliate Sakiko Fukuda-Parr from the New School, while another ERG affiliate, Dave Richards of the University of Memphis, was central in developing the residual approach. Economics faculty member Lanse Minkler has done budget work on the right to employment in the US, following in the footsteps of pioneer and ERG affiliate Phil Harvey of Rutgers University. The group will explore the extent to which ERG should focus on its activities on economic rights measurement, and also an emerging relationship with a prominent Non-Government Organization working on economic rights, the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, directed by ERG affiliate Cathy Albisa. The afternoon sessions will feature new research presentations by ERG affiliates.

People interested in attending the meeting should contact Prof. Minkler.

Recent graduate Brian Volz, advised by Prof. Thomas Miceli, has accepted a tenure track assistant professor position at Assumption College in Worcester, MA. Brian will be leaving UConn, where he currently teaches Intermediate Microeconomics and Public Finance, to join the Assumption College faculty for the Fall 2010 semester. Brian’s research focuses on discrimination and productivity in the professional sports industry. His research on discrimination in professional baseball has been published in the Journal of Sports Economics. He also recently presented his research at the Eastern Economic Association Annual Conference in Philadelphia. Brian plans to continue his research on labor and sports economics as a member of the Department of Economics and Global Studies at Assumption College.

Assumption College is a private, Catholic college with 2,150 undergraduate students. Assumption offers a classic liberal arts education where economics is one of 39 undergraduate majors. Brian will be one of seven full time faculty members in the Department of Economics and Global studies. He expects to teach a variety of courses including Microeconomics, Labor Economics, and Public Finance.

The UConn Alumni Association recently announced that David Stockton has been named to receive the 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award. After completing his BA and MA at UConn in just four years (1972-76), under the supervision of Professor Emeritus William McEachern, Stockton obtained a second MA and his PhD in Economics at Yale University. A Danforth Fellow, Yale Fellow, and member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi, Stockton joined the Federal Reserve’s Division of Research and Statistics in 1981. Since 2000, he has served as the Director of Research and Statistics, overseeing the Fed’s large staff of PhD economists who conduct research and inform the Fed’s Board of Governors–the architects of U.S. monetary policy.

Both the current Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, and his predecessor Alan Greenspan have strongly praised Stockton’s expertise and advice on economic matters. In addition to his responsibilities for directing longer-term research projects at the Fed, Stockton presents regular economic forecasts to the Federal Open Market Committee–the group of officials that regularly meets to decide Fed policies and actions that shape banking operations and interest rates in the U.S. and abroad. Stockton’s public service career continues a family tradition. David’s father, Ed Stockton served as Mayor of the Town of Bloomfield, and later was named Commissioner of Economic Development under Governors Ella Grasso and William O’Neill. The Stockton family’s New Jersey ancestor Richard Stockton signed the Declaration of Independence.

Stockton will be officially honored at an Alumni Association event in the South Campus Rome Hall Ballroom, on October 1, 2010.

There is more about David Stockton in the UConn Alumni Magazine

On April 1, the department convened for an awards banquet that recognized the best among undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty. This year’s award recipients were:

Omicron Delta Epsilon inductees:
Christopher Barrows Wagner
Christopher Basil
Anthony DeMaio
Tyler Gold
Adam Heidbreder
Christopher Martin
Christopher Miller
Nicole Myers
Daniel Peacock
Lukas Sosnow
Stephen Stephanou
Spencer Swan
Ryan Zuskowski

Undergraduate awards
Louis D. Traurig Scholarship
Lucia Caldari
Mark Connolly
Yixian Lai
Alex Upton

Paul N. Taylor Memorial Prize
Alexander Bansak
Kevin Landry

Rockwood Q. P. Chin Scholarship
Connor Grant
Michael Gurdjian
Thomas Knecht
Daniel Peacock
Brooke Smith
Kristina Sowin
Christopher Waldo
Gang Yin

Abraham Ribicoff Scholarship
Joseph Antelmi
Michael Bokoff
Philip Gorecki
William Kimball

Economics Department Scholarship
Alex Upton

Graduate awards
W. Harrison Carter Award
Lei Chen

Albert E. Waugh Scholarship
Maroula Khraiche

Abraham Ribicoff Graduate Fellowship
Michael Stone

Economics Department Graduate Fellowship
Elizabeth Kaletski
Lisi Shi
Robert Szarka
Wei Wang
Yuan Wang

Ross D. MacKinnon Graduate Fellowship
Leshui He

CLAS Dean’s Fund Graduate Fellowship
Matthiew Burnside
Maroula Khraiche
Xiaoming Li
Michael Stone

Faculty Awards
Grillo Family Research Award
Vicky Knoblauch

Grillo Family Teaching Award
Delia Furtado

Congratulations to all recipients!

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