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sealPatrick Adams, a freshman enrolled in the UConn Honors Program, has been named a Holster Scholar after taking part in a highly competitive application process. The Holster Scholars First Year Program is an opportunity for talented first year students to jump-start their academic careers by proposing a research project in the spring of their freshman year and carrying out the project over the summer. Patrick Adams has chosen 2-sided matching as the topic for his summer project and will be working under the guidance of his faculty mentor, Professor Vicki Knoblauch.

segerson_smallProfessor Kathleen Segerson has been named a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor. This is the University’s highest honor for faculty excellence in research, teaching, and service. Professor Segerson was one of three faculty at the University bestowed with this distinction.

The full article, as seen on UConn Today, can be read here.

Another version of the article appeared on CLAS’s page, and can be read here.

Congratulations, Professor Segerson, on this exceptional honor.



aea2Professors William Alpert and Oskar Harmon, and PhD candidates Robert Szarka and Paul Tomolonis presented “An Interactive Graphing Activity” in the AEA Committee on Economic Education Poster Session at the annual ASSA 2014 Conference in Philadelphia, PA. Their presentation demonstrated several problem sets where students use the drawing tool within Google Drive to create economic diagrams. Relying on the concept of learning-by-doing, these online activities give students the opportunity to practice drawing economic diagrams representing the core principles in their microeconomics textbook. That is, the act of drawing the diagram will reinforce student understanding of the economic concept. Working with Adam Nemeroff (Instructional Designer in the Uconn Institute of Teaching and Learning), the authors anticipate that using Google drawings in principles of economics courses at Uconn will promote the use of other products in Goggle Apps @ Uconn, build skills for upper division course work, and encourage collaborations across disciplines.

For a preview of the presentation click here.

Professor Kai (Jackie) Zhao has had his paper “Social Security and the Rise in Health Spending” accepted for publication in the Journal of Monetary Economics.

In a quantitative model of Social Security with endogenous health, I argue that Social Security increases the aggregate health spending of the economy because it redistributes resources to the elderly whose marginal propensity to spend on health is high. I show by using computational experiments that the expansion of US Social Security can account for over a third of the dramatic rise in US health spending from 1950 to 2000. In addition, Social Security has a spill-over effect on Medicare. As Social Security increases health spending, it also increases the payments from Medicare, thus raising its financial burden.

Read the full text of his paper.

Congratulations, Professor Zhao!

journalProfessors Oskar R. Harmon, William T. Alpert, and PhD Candidate Joseph Histen, have been published the article  “Online Discussion and Learning Outcomes” in the Journal International Advances in Economic Research, 2014.

This paper describes how the authors used Facebook as a discussion tool in the instruction of a principles level economics course and reports empirical estimates of the effect of that use on learning outcomes.  Social media as a tool for promoting classroom discussion has advantages and disadvantages.  For example, its omnipresence and flat learning curve can promote academic discourse.  However social media can promote non-academic “chatting”, and its omnipresence means the user needs more than a passing knowledge of the privacy settings to have control of their “digital identity.  For a Principles of Microeconomics taught in 2011 we collected data, with permission from our institution’s Institutional Review Board, on student use of Facebook, academic and demographic characteristics, learning style preferences and learning outcomes. Overall our empirical estimates provide cautious support for the hypothesis that active participation in the discussion board has a positive effect on exam score at a statistically significant level.  The estimates of the effect of posts related to question and answer dialogue show a positive impact on the cumulative final exam score at a 5% level of statistical significance.  This result is consistent with the view that using Facebook in academic instruction can be an effective tool for assisting the average student to resolve questions about the course material and for promoting peer-to-peer learning.

couch (1)The Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) has chosen Ken Couch, a Professor in the Department of Economics at UConn, as the next Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (JPAM).  JPAM is the Association’s flagship journal and is ranked as a ‘top 3’ outlet in the field of Public Administration.  In the field of economics, the journal is ranked similar to prestigious outlets such as the Journal of Public Economics and the Journal of Health Economics.  Professor Couch will serve a five-year term as Editor-in-Chief beginning July 1st of 2014.  The announcement from APPAM is located here:

t_furtadoProf. Delia Furtado will spend her sabbatical visiting Boston University this semester. During this break from teaching, she plans to continue her immigration research while surrounded by top labor economists. Former (and current) students and colleagues who find themselves in Boston are encouraged to visit! See her webpage for contact information.

ECE2013At the end of the Fall 2013 semester, Professor William Alpert presented an all day workshop for Early College Experience (ECE) Economics adjuncts and preceptors.  The ECE program in Economics has grown from one class taught by one instructor to three classes at 8 state public and private high schools with about 800 Connecticut students completing the classes each year.

The UConn Early College Experience (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 warm 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 or preceptors and teach UConn classes.

For more information see:

sealOn January 13, Dr. Benny Widyono will give a talk titled “Economic Globalization and the impact on the Cambodian economy,” at the Center for Khmer Studies’ Headquarters in Siem Reap.

Dr. Widyono is currently an adjunct professor at the UConn Stamford campus. He is also an advisor at Leopard Capital LP. Previously, Dr. Widyono served as a United Nations diplomat in Cambodia, Thailand, Chile, and New York. He was a peacekeeper in Cambodia with UNTAC from 1992 to 1993, and then returned to Cambodia as the UN Secretary-General’s Representative from 1994-1997. Dr. Widyono published Dancing in the Shadows: Sihanouk, the Khmer Rouge, and the United Nations in Cambodia while he was a visiting scholar at Cornell University.

To read an abstract of Professor Widyono’s paper, please click here.

For more about Khmer Studies, please click here.


The Economics Department is very pleased to announce that it has been designated as the beneficiary of the Eleanor Bloom Trust.  The trust is a permanent endowment, and Ms. Bloom left instructions that the funds be used to provide financial aid to the Economics Department, preferably for research assistants.  Funding of this type provides critical support for our department and graduate program, allowing us to provide greater opportunities for the enhancement of research and teaching, and the education and training of graduate research assistants.  And it is particularly gratifying when the source is a former student who chose to give back to the University and the Department in this way.

Ms. Bloom received her B.A. in Economics with Honors from UConn in 1955. She went on to receive her MA from Trinity College and taught Latin at E.O. Smith High School in Storrs.  The Department is very grateful for her support.


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