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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.

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. Knoblauch (IDEAS) has had a lot of success recently in publishing articles in economic theory. She has been working in two main areas. One is concerned with increasing our understanding of consumer and voter preferences. “Recognizing One-Dimensional Euclidean Preferences,” forthcoming in the Journal of Mathematical Economics, shows how to determine whether voters’ preferences over candidates were formed on the basis of a single issue when the preferences themselves are the only information available. “Binary Relations: Finite Characterizations and Computational Complexity,” published in Theory and Decision, defines a category of easy-to-implement techniques for studying consumer preferences.

Her other area of study concerns the design of mechanisms that combine individual preferences into a collective choice. “Three-Agent Peer Evaluations,” forthcoming in Economics Letters, is an investigation into the recent surprising discovery that no rule that divides a profit fairly among three partners based on reports they submit can respect those reports when they agree. “Marriage Matching and Gender Satisfaction,” published in Social Choice and Welfare, is, among a vast literature on the subject of marriage matching, one of only a handful that has made progress in determining men’s and women’s satisfaction with the outcome of the best-known matching algorithm.

Ralf Hepp is visiting the department for the 2009-10 academic year from Fordham University, New York, where he is an Assistant Professor of Economics. He has a Ph.D. in International Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. While he will mostly be conducting research during his sabbatical stay, he has accepted to teach an undergraduate course in International Finance.

His research interests lie mainly in open-economy macroeconomics and development economics. Most recently, he has written with co-author Jürgen von Hagen a couple of research papers on the German fiscal system. They have investigated the degree of income and consumption smoothing at the state level for the last four decades as well as risk-sharing properties of the system – a topic at the intersection of macroeconomics and public finance. Prof. Hepp is currently working on a project on financial liberalization and the role of capital controls and foreign exchange reserves in the economic development of emerging market economies.

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.

Prospects of an end to the recession have raised hopes but also important questions about the state’s economy. The latest issue of The Connecticut Economy: A University of Connecticut Quarterly Review was unveiled at the UConn Stamford Campus on September 11th at the Fairfield County Economic Summit and Outlook, sponsored by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA).

Featured articles include Bruce and Robert Blakey’s assessment of the potential statewide impacts of employment cuts in Fairfield County’s financial services sector. With Fairfield County accounting for 38% of Connecticut’s personal income and nearly 47% of the state’s income tax revenue, any significant “downsizing” of this critical sector also spells trouble for the rest of the state. Fortunately, Fairfield County has demonstrated its economic resilience in past recessions and seems determined to “reinvent” itself, as described in A Forward Look by Mike Freimuth, Stamford’s Director of Economic Development.

Concerns about traffic congestion in urbanized areas and the push for a “greener” Connecticut have prompted proposals to extend the state’s commuter rail system. Executive Editor Steven Lanza and UConn undergraduate Bryan Murphy explore the potential benefits of rail expansion by examining the effects of the current network on home prices. They show that, after controlling for other factors, households are willing to pay about 5% more for homes in towns with a commuter rail station. These “capitalized” benefits of existing stops may be useful to policymakers in estimating the potential benefits of new commuter links.

Art Wright jumps into the health care reform fray by studying the sources of variation in Medicare spending per enrollee across states, over the period 1991-2004. Medicare has been seen as a model for the controversial “public option” in reform proposals, as well as an example of the problems that might accompany further public involvement in health care. Wright’s study shows that the sources of large spending differences in the Medicare program are not easy to discern. The distribution of doctors seems to be an important factor, but the nature of the relationship is complex.

Connecticut has been wrestling with a large budget deficit that requires expenditure and tax adjustments. Dennis Heffley teams up with former grad students MaryJane Lenon (PhD, 1989)—currently MBA Director at Providence College—and Raymond Salani III (MA, 2008) to examine the effects of the tax mix on non-federal revenues per head. Using data for all 50 states and 12 fiscal years, their panel-data analysis suggests that states may have few options to increase the tax take by simply adjusting their tax mix. The few apparent “targets of opportunity” tend to be politically unpopular with voters or risk offending special interests.

For free access to this and other issues of The Connecticut Economy, visit: http://cteconomy.uconn.edu/.

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.

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.

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