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Lanse Minkler‘s (IDEAS) recent book, Integrity and Agreement: Economics When Principles Also Matter, argues that moral principles— not mere self-interest—drives rational decision making. Starting with the elementary principle “lying is wrong,” Minkler examines the ways in which a sense of morality guides real-life decision making. Whether one feels committed to specific or general moral principles, Minkler explains, integrity demands consistently acting on that commitment. Because truthfulness is the most basic moral principle, integrity means honesty. And honesty extends beyond truth-telling. It requires good faith when entering an agreement and then standing by one’s word. From this premise, Minkler explores the implications of integrity for contracts between buyers and sellers and understandings between employers and employees. He also finds a role for integrity in an individual’s religious vows, an elected official’s accountability to constituents, and a community’s obligation to human rights.

Commenting on the book, Geoffrey Hodgson, Research Professor in Business Studies, University of Hertfordshire, and Editor in Chief of the Journal of Institutional Economics writes: “Facing massive evidence that people do not act generally as self-regarding payoff maximizers, economists have become increasingly interested in issues of cooperation, altruism, identity, and morality. Lanse Minkler’s contribution is particularly important because of his powerful argument that the evidence of cooperation cannot be explained adequately by a more complicated preference function. A disposition for honesty is not simply a matter of preference—it is an issue of personal integrity, identity, and commitment. This has major implications. In particular we have to reconstruct the theory of the firm from first principles. No economist committed to the pursuit of truth should ignore this volume.”

You can find out more about Integrity and Agreement at University of Michigan Press.

That book follows on the heels of Minkler’s co-edited volume, Economic Rights: Conceptual, Measurement, and Policy Issues. This edited volume offers new scholarship on economic rights by leading scholars in the fields of economics, law, and political science. It analyzes the central features of economic rights: their conceptual, measurement, and policy dimensions. In its introduction, the book provides a new conceptualization of economic rights based on a three-pronged definition: the right to a decent standard of living, the right to work, and the right to basic income support for people who cannot work. Subsequent chapters correct existing conceptual mistakes in the literature, provide new measurement techniques with country rankings, and analyze policy implementation at the international, regional, national, and local levels. While it forms a cohesive whole, the book is nevertheless rich in contending perspectives.

You can find out more about Economic Rights at Cambridge University Press.

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Professor Ross‘s (IDEAS) study “Place of Work/Place of Residence” with Patrick Bayer at Duke and Giorgio Topa and the NY Federal Reserve was published in the Journal of Political Economy in December (UConn working paper version). The Journal of Political Economy is considered to be one of the top three journals in Economics. This paper provides strong evidence that individual’s success in the labor market is influenced by their immediate neighbors, and that this influence is larger when the neighbors share key traits, such as both having children, being similar in age, or having similar levels of education, possibly because they are more likely to share information about jobs with each other. Individuals whose neighbors have such similar traits are more successful in the labor market having higher employment rates and earnings.

A key feature of the study is its design that is intended to approximate what someone might obtain from a randomized experiment. We use the detailed geography available in confidential census data so that we can control for neighborhoods and then examine whether the attributes of someone’s immediate neighbors within the broader neighborhood have a disproportionate impact on their outcomes. We assert and then demonstrate for key attributes that once households have chosen a neighborhood they appear to be almost randomly distributed across blocks within that neighborhood, which is the source of our quasi-experimental variation.

Economics PhD student Brian Volz, advised by Thomas Miceli, has been a fan of baseball his entire life and spent much of his free time as an undergraduate playing baseball. As a graduate student at UConn he has been lucky enough to incorporate his favorite leisure activity into his study of labor economics.

His paper “Minority Status and Managerial Survival in Major League Baseball” was recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Sports Economics. The paper began as a project for one of his PhD field courses and was expanded and revised over the past two years into an economics department working paper and eventually a journal submission. The paper was motivated by the relatively small number of minority managers in a league with a relatively large percentage of minority players. The paper examines the impact of minority status on the survival of Major League Baseball managers in order to determine if discrimination in managerial retention is to blame for the lack of minority managers. In order to answer this question data envelopment analysis, which he was introduced to in Professor Ray‘s (IDEAS) Productivity Analysis course, and survival time analysis are applied to performance and survival data from the 1985 to 2006 baseball seasons. It is shown that when controlling for performance and personal characteristics minorities are on average 9.6% points more likely to return the following season. Additionally, it is shown that winning percentage has no impact on managerial survival when the efficiency of the manager is controlled for.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced today that she has named Karen Wayland as her new Policy Advisor for energy; Anne Cannon MacMillan as her new Policy Advisor for agriculture, veterans, small business and rural outreach; and Bridget Fallon as her new Director of Protocol and Special Events. All three begin their duties this month.

Congress cannot function without the dedication and hard work of Americans who put public service ahead of private gain. The hard work completed by staff is an integral part of making the Congress work for the American people, Pelosi said. I welcome our talented new additions to the Speakers Office and look forward to working together as we continue to move America in a New Direction.

Karen Wayland currently serves as Legislative Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council and is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

Wayland holds a dual Ph.D. in Geology and Resource Development from Michigan State University, a masters degree in Natural Resources Management and Engineering and a bachelors in Economics from the University of Connecticut.

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