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Professor Nishith Prakash‘s article titled “Consumption and Social Identity: Evidence from India” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.
We examine spending on consumption items which have signaling value in social interactions across groups with distinctive social identities in India, where social identities are defined by caste and religious affiliations. Using nationally representative micro data on household consumption expenditures, we find that disadvantaged caste groups such as Other Backward Castes spend eight percent more on visible consumption than Brahmin and High Caste groups while social groups such as Muslims spend fourteen percent less, after controlling for differences in permanent income, household assets and household demographic composition. The differences across social groups are significant and robust and these differences persist within different sub populations. We find that the higher spending of OBC households on visible consumption is diverted from education spending, while Muslim households divert spending from visible consumption and education towards greater food spending. Additionally, we find that these consumption patterns can be partly explained as a result of the status signaling nature of the consumption items. We also discuss alternative sources of differences in consumption patterns across groups which stem from religious observance.
Oxford University Press has published a book entitled, Counting the Poor: New Thinking about European Poverty Measures and Lessons for the United States, co-edited by Professor Douglas Besharov at the University of Maryland and Professor Kenneth Couch at the University of Connecticut. The book is a collection of papers by leading scholars on current European measures of poverty, their conceptual underpinnings, and how they contrast with poverty measurement in the United States. The papers were originally presented at a conference held at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris co-organized by Besharov and Couch.
Professor Paul Hallwood has four chapters in the above titled book just published by Cambridge University Press in England. The chapters are “Crash! Expectational Aspects of the Departures of the United Kingdom and United States from the Inter-War Gold Standard”; “Realignment Expectations and the US Dollar, 1890–1897: Was There a ‘Peso’ Problem?”; “Credibility and Fundamentals: Were the Classical and Inter-War Gold Standards Well-Behaved Target Zones?”; and “Did Impending War in Europe Help Destroy the Gold Bloc in 1936? An Internal Inconsistency Hypothesis?” All four chapters were written with Ronald MacDonald and Ian Marsh, and the book is edited by Michael D. Bordo and Ronald MacDonald.
Hallwood’s chapters demonstrate that adherence to a fixed exchange regime imposes severe monetary and fiscal discipline on member countries – not unlike the Euro-zone today; that at some point this discipline can become unbearable, though the USA did ride out the free-silver movement in the 1890s; that the gold standard was heavily implicated in the generation of the Great Depression: and that it was also implicated in the French defeat by Germany in 1940 as France for too long accepted the fiscal constraint of gold, restraining its military spending, even while Germany remilitarized.
Professor Thomas Miceli’s latest book, “The Economic Theory of Eminent Domain: Private Property, Public Use”, has just been published by Cambridge University Press. A brief description of the contents of the book is as follows:
This book surveys the contributions that economic theory has made to the often contentious debate over the government’s use of its power of eminent domain, as prescribed by the Fifth Amendment. It addresses such questions as: When should the government be allowed to take private property without the owner’s consent? Does it depend on how the land will be used? And what amount of compensation is the landowner entitled to receive (if any)? The recent case of Kelo v. New London (2005) revitalized the debate, but it was only the latest skirmish in the ongoing struggle between advocates of strong governmental powers to acquire private property in the public interest and private property rights advocates. Written for a general audience, the book advances a coherent theory that views eminent domain within the context of the government’s proper role in an economic system whose primary objective is to achieve efficient land use.
Prof. Segerson is the invited editor of a forthcoming volume on the Economics of Pollution Control, which is scheduled for publication in February 2011 by Edward Elgar Publishers. The book collects 26 previously published articles that provide a contemporary overview of this field. Rather than highlighting classic papers in the field, the volume focuses on more recent key contributions, highlighting advances in theory, models, and empirical methods that have occurred over the past ten to fifteen years. The included papers illustrate the wide range of contexts and ways in which the insights from economics in general, and environmental economics in particular, can inform current policy debates over pressing environmental issues. The volume is part of Elgar’s The International Library of Critical Writings in Economics series.
“As land gets transferred from agriculture to industry, many people (like share croppers and landless workers) will lose their livelihood. It would be morally reprehensible to drive a Nano or a Cadillac on the dirt roads wet with the tears of the dispossessed. Economic rehabilitation of these displaced workers remains the first priority of any responsible government.”
An article by Professor Subhash Ray recently appeared in the November 17, 2009 issue of the highly esteemed biweekly literary magazine, Desh, published in Bengali from Calcutta. His paper draws upon the parallel between the experiences of General Motors in Poletown, MI in the 1980s and the recent events relating to Tata Motors and the agricultural land in Singur, West Bengal, to raise a number of questions about government taking of land for private development. A brief review of the history of land acquisition through eminent domain in the US serves as the background for a discussion of the different important questions like the problem of strategic holdouts and fair compensation. The essay ends with an emphasis on the moral obligation of the government, especially in India, for proper rehabilitation of the displaced when exercise of Eminent Domain powers becomes unavoidable.
His paper has attracted a lot of attention and has been highly acclaimed by scholars interested in the question of land acquisition for economic development. An English version of the paper is available as a University of Connecticut Economics working paper. The original article in Bengali is available on request from the author.
Prof. Stephen Ross with his co-authors Eric Brunner (BA alumnus) and Ebonya Washington had their paper “Economics and Policy Preferences: Causal Evidence of the Impact of Economic Conditions on Support for Redistribution and Other Ballot Proposals” accepted recently at the Review of Economics and Statistics, one of the leading journals in the profession.
In this paper, they analyze voting data on California ballot propositions between 1990 and 2004 classifying these propositions based on their political leaning (Democrat vs. Republican) and based on the type of proposition (fiscal vs. social). They find strong evidence that positive economic shocks lead to declines in support for redistributive policies using an exogenous proxy for economic shocks based on changes in national employment composition and the composition of worker industry at the neighborhood level. Further, they find that voters behave as if the voters have a preference for consistency in political preferences so that economic shocks have a smaller but similar impact on voting on non-economic ballot issues.
An article based on the work of Prof. Kenneth Couch that examines the experiences of workers who have lost jobs they held for a long time is contained in the current issue of the American Economic Review. The paper, entitled “Earnings Losses of Displaced Workers Revisited“, is co-authored with Dana Placzek who is a research analyst for the Connecticut Department of Labor. The research makes use of state administrative records to show that workers displaced due to large-scale layoffs and plant closures experience sustained earnings losses. Those losses are seen as the proportion of earnings attributable to specific human capital. The analysis also demonstrates that the size of the earnings losses depends heavily on whether workers take Unemployment Insurance benefits during the period of job transition.
The same research project that resulted in this publication in the centennial issue of the American Economic Review (Volume 100, Issue 1) also resulted in an additional publication in Research on Aging regarding specific experiences of older displaced workers in Connecticut that was co-authored with Dana Placzek and Nicholas Jolly, when he was a graduate student in our program. Additional work from this project showing the impact of the business cycle on the depth of earnings losses is still under review.
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.
Professors Metin Coşgel and Thomas Miceli have recently published an article titled “State and Religion.” The paper develops a theoretical and empirical analysis of the historical relationship between government and religion. The authors argue that an important function of religion throughout history has been to help legitimize the state, thereby reducing both its cost of tax collection and its susceptibility to being overthrown by popular revolt. In this sense, the model is an effort to formalize Marx’s famous dictum that religion serves as “an opiate of the masses.” The model also tries to explain why some regimes, notably communist, have tried to suppress religion. If the actions of the state are contrary to religious doctrine, for example, the state may find it necessary to suppress practice of that religion in order to maintain power. The paper uses a rich set of cross-country data on the relationship between religion and state, as well as examples drawn from history, to evaluate the predictions of the model.
This article, which was published in the September 2009 issue of the Journal of Comparative Economics (UConn working paper version), is part of a larger research agenda that Professors Cosgel and Miceli have recently embarked upon that seeks to examine the interaction of religious, political, and legal institutions from an economic perspective.