You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2009.

The Economics Department is happy to announce that 11 of our graduate students are completing their Ph.D. this academic year and are currently on the job market. Their fields range across environmental, industrial organization, international trade, labor, law and economics, macroeconomics, sports economics and urban. The students are listed below in alphabetical order along with the name of their major advisor, a brief summary of their dissertation, and any web links. Going forward, updated information may be found at the department’s job market page.

Gulgun Bayaz (advisor: Couch)
I investigate the role of market forces and the institutional constraints in explaining the earnings inequality differentials in the United States and Germany, by focusing on educational wage differentials. I find that differential growth in relative skill supplies is largely responsible for the differences in returns to skill leaving a secondary role for wage-setting institutions in explaining the differentials during the 1980s and 1990s.

Onur Burak Celik (advisor: Knoblauch)
My work departs from the mainstream matching theory literature and analyzes via simulations the effect of correlation in the preference lists on the aggregate satisfaction of the participants in roommates problem. Results show that correlation is an important factor on the aggregate satisfaction of the individuals. A higher correlation level among the preference lists leads to less satisfied participants.

Lei Chen (advisor: Ray)
I apply both non-parametric Data Envelopment Analysis and parametric Stochastic Frontier Analysis methods to study the production technology and efficiency in the U.S. dental care industry. The empirical analysis is based on a practice level data set constructed from the American Dental Association 2005 survey on private dental practices in Colorado. It is the first study focused on the technical efficiency of dental care industry in the U.S. at practice level in the last 25 years.

Paramita Dhar (advisor: Ross)
My dissertation examines two different questions about housing and location choice. In the first essay, I apply a difference-in-difference model to capture the causal effect of school quality on house prices by looking at houses located on school district boundaries in Connecticut. The rest of the dissertation deals with detailed spatial analysis of the nature of housing discrimination in the context of multiple minority groups in Los-Angeles using Housing Discrimination Study (2000).

Juan-Pedro Garces (advisor: Randolph)
The first essay –to be published this Fall in the Journal of Knowledge Globalization- is an empirical study of the determinants of educational quality, focusing on the special case of Chile, my native country. The second paper is a cross-country study of the effects of population density on educational attainment (as a proxy for human capital) and, through it, on living standards. The dataset contains panel data for 209 countries. This paper will be presented at the ASSA meetings in Atlanta in January 2010. The third paper presents a theoretical model of the influence of institutional development -including the educational system- on economic growth.

Nicoleta Iliescu (advisor: Matschke)
In my job market paper (“Antidumping as Trade Protection: Evidence from the US Lobby Activity”), I investigate the impact of lobbying on the antidumping practices in the US. Currently, antidumping is the most heavily used temporary tariff measure both worldwide and in the US. Thus, it becomes an appropriate avenue of studying how political pressure shapes the level of protection some domestic industries receive. The empirical results I derive in the paper reinforce the hypothesis that the political clout plays an important role in granting trade protection through antidumping duties.

Nicholas Jolly (advisor: Couch)
My job market paper focuses on the effects job displacement has on intragenerational earnings and income mobility. The main results of the paper show that an involuntary job loss significantly increases the probability of a worker moving into the bottom half of the labor earnings distribution not only in the year of displacement, but also for several years after the event occurs. However, if the worker has access to earnings and income from a spouse and government transfer payments, the negative mobility effects of displacement are significantly mitigated.

Maroula Khraiche (advisor: Zimmermann)
In my dissertation, I qualitatively and quantitatively evaluate the channels that affect labor migration, both skilled and unskilled, examining the effects of immigration policies on both the sending and receiving economies specifically considering guest worker programs, the implication of trade for migration, and informal labor markets.

Zinnia Mukherjee (advisor: Segerson)
The theme that runs through my dissertation is the design and evaluation of conservation policies to protect endangered species. In particular, I look at the effectiveness of voluntary approaches and the role of background regulatory threat in mitigating stochastic sea turtle bycatch and the welfare effects of unilateral conservation policies in an open economy. In addition to my dissertation, my research includes analyzing behavioral responses of fishers to marine hypoxia, with specific focus on the Long Island Sound fisheries.

Michael Stone (advisor: Miceli)
I present a theory which incorporates litigation costs into the standard economic model of punitive damages showing that caps on punitive damages induce under deterrence, but also reduce litigation costs. At the optimum, caps on punitive damages are justified when the marginal benefit of deterrence equals the marginal litigation cost. Utilizing a rich panel dataset from 1981 to 2005, I uncover some empirical evidence that litigation costs cause legislators to enact caps. There is compelling empirical evidence that the conflicting lobbying efforts of the legal services and insurance industries are most responsible for the enactment of caps.

Brian Volz (advisor: Miceli)
My dissertation examines discrimination and productivity in the professional baseball market. The first chapter, which has recently been published in The Journal of Sports Economics, finds evidence that minority managers are more likely to return the following season than comparable white managers. The second chapter finds evidence that discrimination in hiring may contribute to this higher survival rate. The third chapter examines how efficiently MLB teams produce wins and attempts to identify team characteristics which lead to efficient production.


Prof. Tripathi has been appointed as an associate editor of Econometric Theory (ET) for a four-year term starting January 1, 2010. ET is a leading field journal committed to publishing original contributions in econometrics. It is published by the Cambridge University Press and archived at JSTOR.

Prof. Matschke recently got a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management (JEEM), the leading field journal in environmental economics. The paper, titled “Environmental Policy in Majoritarian Systems” (UConn Economics Working Paper 2008-01), is the outcome of an ongoing research project with Per Fredriksson (University of Louisville) and Jenny Minier (University of Kentucky) on the influence of majoritarian systems on economic policy.

This paper sheds new light on the determination of environmental tax policies in majoritarian federal electoral systems such as the U.S., and derives implications for the environmental federalism debate on whether the national or local government should have authority over environmental taxes. In the absence of majority bias, the socially preferred policy would be federal district-level taxation which accounts both for cross-boundary pollution and differences in industry concentration across districts. If majority representatives use environmental tax policy to maximize the welfare of only their own districts rather than social welfare, federal district-level pollution taxes are typically suboptimal, and decentralized or federal uniform taxation may be the preferred solution.

In late March 2008, the Department hosted a Graduate Reunion and Forum at the Bishop Center. At the one-day reunion, some of our former PhD students presented their recent research, while others employed in the private sector or by government described their work in professional experience panels. That evening, we also held the Department’s annual awards banquet. We are planning to host a similar event on Friday, April 2, 2010.

Also, the day before the reunion (April 1), we will be holding the “Philip E. Austin Forum on Economics and Public Policy.” Professor Segerson is organizing this event, and funding it using part of the endowment funds for the Austin Chair. The speaker for the forum will be Harvard University environmental economist Robert Stavins. He will speak on climate change in a Post-Kyoto era. President Emeritus Austin, Provost Nicholls, and Dean Teitelbaum are all planning to attend this event.

We will have more details about both events, but for now we hope you will keep the two dates open and plan to attend. See you in April!

Dr. Benny Widyono, adjunct professor of Economics on the Stamford campus, will speak on October 16 at the University of Wisconsin in Madison about his recent book, Dancing in Shadows: Sihanouk, the Khmer Rouge, and the United Nations in Cambodia. This books recreates his experience in Cambodia while being a member of the UN transitional authority and then as a personal envoy to the UN secretary-general after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. He describes the fierce battles for power centering on King Norodom Sihanouk, the Khmer Rouge, and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The talk will focus on the premise of the book, that Cambodia had, during the cold war, due to its geopolitical location, experienced enormous chaos, turmoil, civil war and deep despair in the ongoing power struggle for hegemony in Southeast Asia. Thus, when the Khmer Rouge genocidal regime was ousted by Vietnamese troops on January 7 1979, diplomatic maneuverings in the United Nations in New York continued to recognize the Khmer Rouge regime as the legitimate government of Cambodia for another 11 years culminating in Paris Peace Agreements which were themselves flawed. These past unjust decisions continued to haunt Cambodia long after the Khmer Rouge was ousted and sent to the jungles near Thailand.

At the invitation of the Association of Graduate Economics Students (AGES), 1995 Economics Nobel Prize Laureate Robert E. Lucas, Jr. will spend the day of November 13, 2009, on campus as part of the annual AGES prestigious lecture series. He will first meet with graduate students and then give a public lecture. A reception at the department will then follow.

Robert Lucas is a pioneer of modern macroeconomics who redifined the way theory in macroeconomics is approached. It is on his insistence that macroeconomists started thinking of a national economy as the aggregation of independent optimizing units, rather than thinking only in terms of big aggregates. He has also written influencial papers on economic development, a topic that should be the focus of his public lecture.

More details about this day will follow later on this blog.

On October 1, 2009, Professor Richard Langlois spoke at Union College in Schenectady, New York, on the topic: “Creative Destruction: The Work of Joseph Schumpeter in his Day and Ours.” Jointly sponsored by the Engineering program and the Department of Economics at Union, the talk was supported by a donation from a college alumnus who wanted students and faculty to become more familiar with the work of Schumpeter, a Vienna-trained Harvard economist of the early twentieth century who stressed the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation in economic growth and insisted on the dynamic and often unstable nature of capitalism. As recently noted in this blog, Professor Langlois is the author of a 2007 book on the work of Schumpeter.

Human Rights in the USA is an international three-day conference from October 22 to 24 that takes place at both the Storrs and Law School campuses. Three Economic Rights panels will explore issues surrounding the right to an adequate standard of living (details follow). The entire UConn community is invited to attend the conference and to learn about the state of the art research in human rights and economic rights.

Friday, October 23, 2009, UConn Law School, Hartford

Economic Rights and Poverty
Chair: Shareen Hertel, University of Connecticut.
Discussants: Ken Neubeck, University of Connecticut Emeritus, and Susan Randolph, University of Connecticut

  • Catherine Albisa, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative. “Drawing Lines in the Sand: The Development of New Rights Norms in the United States.”
  • Philip Harvey, Rutgers University School of Law, Camden. “A Rights-Based Anti-Recession Strategy: What American Progressives Learned from the New Deal and then Forgot.”
  • Rhoda Howard-Hassmann, Wilfred Laurier University. “The Yellow Sweatshirt: Human Dignity and Economic Human Rights in Advanced Industrial Democracies.”
  • Gillian MacNaughton, University of Oxford. “A Holistic Human Rights Perspective on Poverty.”

Saturday, October 24, 2009. University of Connecticut, Storrs Campus, Rome Ballroom

Katrina through an Economic Rights Lens
Chair: Evelyn Simien, University of Connecticut
Discussants: Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, The New School and Heather Turcotte, University of Connecticut

  • Davida Finger, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, Rachel Luft, University of New Orleans “Post Hurricane Katrina Evacuation and Housing Policy: A Human Rights and Social Movements’ Analysis.”
  • Hope Lewis, Northeastern University School of Law. “Transnationalism and Human Rights in the U.S.: Notes from the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora.”
  • Kristen Lewis, Social Science Research Council, American Human DevelopmentProject. “A Portrait of Louisiana: Louisiana Human Development Report 2009.”

Researching Economic Rights in the USA
Chair: David Richards, University of Memphis
Discussants: David Richards, University of Memphis and Lyle Scruggs, University of Connecticut

  • David Cingranelli, SUNY-Binghamton. “Measuring and Explaining the Gap between ILO Standards and US Labor Policies.”
    Patrick Heidkamp, Southern Connecticut State University. “Measuring Economic Rights in the USA: A Spatial Analytic Perspective.”
  • Lanse Minkler, University of Connecticut. “On the Cost of Economic Rights in the US.”
  • Susan Randolph, University of Connecticut. “Economic Rights in the Land of Plenty: Monitoring State Fulfillment of Economic & Social Rights Obligations in the United States.”

For more information about Human Rights in the USA go to the conference website.

After leaving UConn with his MA in 2005, Steve Sugrue worked for Circuit City in Richmond, VA designing large-scale inventory demand forecasting systems and later moved to online/digital marketing. Since the company folded, he has been working for State Farm Insurance in Bloomington, IL as a Research Statistician, a PhD-level position. He does a lot of time series modeling related to banking deposit instruments and also some panel data modeling related to Internet consumers. He just started some work related to game-theoretic approaches to optimal financial product mixes over the customer life cycle.

The job is a mixture of economics and statistics. Steve does literature reviews to see how certain problems or classes of problems have been approached academically and he tries to adapt that to local needs. His group is more unconventional, in that it is bit of a think-tank in that it is called out to consult on the more esoteric issues that are not as clear-cut with respect to methodology choice and analytic flow. He states that his group’s job is to bring their bubble gum and duct tape expert opinions and experience and solve the problems. In this respect, the flexibility of the training of an economist, along with a few statistics classes have helped him a lot.