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The annual meeting of the Allied Social Science Associations in early January is the big meeting place of economists, about 11,000 are expected this year. Many members of the department will be in attendance, and quite a few will be presenting their research, see the list below. Note that the department is not organizing a reception this year, but an informal gathering will happen on Monday January 4th, 8:30pm, at the Westin Peachtree Plaza (210 Peachtree St.). We will be heading to a restaurant thereafter.

Jan. 3, 8:00 am, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, International C (American Economic Association)
Low-Skilled Immigration and Work-Fertility Tradeoffs Among High-Skilled U.S. Natives
Delia Furtado (University of Connecticut)
Heinrich Hock (Florida State University)

Jan. 3, 10:15 am, Hilton Atlanta, Room 211 (American Economic Association and Association of Environmental and Resource Economists)
Combining Environmental and Development Goals: Strategies for Moving Forward (Panel Discussion)
Presiding: Kathleen Segerson (University of Connecticut )
Christopher Barrett (Cornell University)
Ariel Dinar (University of California-Riverside)
Paul Ferraro (Georgia State University)
Charles Perrings (Arizona State University)
Ma Zhong (Renmin University, China)
David Zilberman (University of California-Berkeley)

Jan. 3, 10:15 am, Hilton Atlanta, Room 306 (Society of Government Economists)
Measurement Issues in the Labor Market
Kenneth Couch (discussant, University of Connecticut)

Jan. 3, 12:30 pm, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, M103 (National Association of Economics Educators)
Student Performance in Traditional vs. Online Format: Evidence from an MBA Level Introductory Economics Class
Oskar Harmon (University of Connecticut)
James Lambrinos (Union University)

Jan. 3, 12:30 pm, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, M303 (Omicron Delta Epsilon)
The Impact of Population Density on Technology, Productivity of Human Capital and Growth
Juan-Pedro Garces (University of Connecticut)

Jan. 4, 10:15 am, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, L508 (American Economic Association)
Measuring Employment Transitions and Mass Layoffs with Administrative Data
Kenneth Couch (University of Connecticut)
Dana Placzek (Connecticut Department of Labor)

Jan. 4, 10:15 am, Hilton Atlanta, Room 206 (American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association)
Urban Labor Markets
Stephen Ross (discussant, University of Connecticut)

Jan. 4, 2:30 pm, Hilton Atlanta, Room 210 (Association of Indian Economic and Financial Studies)
Profit Efficiency and Return on Equity in Banking: Evidence from India
Subash Ray (University of Connecticut)
Abhiman Das (Reserve Bank of India)
Kankana Mukherjee (Babson College)

Jan. 5, 1:00 pm, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, L402 (American Economic Association)
Malaria Policy: Alternative Prevention and Eradication Strategies in a Dynamic Model
Douglas Gollin (Williams College)
Christian Zimmermann (University of Connecticut)

The UConn Department of Economics pursues an active seminar program to allow outsiders to present their latest research as well as local faculty and students to run their latest output by their colleagues. For this Spring term, the preliminary program has been posted. Among the regular activities are:


  • the seminars, typically given by faculty from outside the university, are given Fridays at 3:30pm and run for 90 minutes;
  • the brownbags are scheduled for Tuesdays at 12:30pm this term and run for 45-60 minutes. Usually, local faculty and students present their work in an informal setting. Bring your lunch;
  • the macro workshop is set for most Wednesdays at 12:20pm, with presentations on macroeconomics, broadly defined, and sometimes on very preliminary research. Bring your lunch, and non-macroeconomists are also welcome;
  • Other, irregular activities are also listed on the seminar page. They include the Austin Forum, a new event sponsored by the Austin Chair in Economics, and a reunion of graduate alumni.

Like other states, Connecticut is still wrestling with the effects of the current recession. The latest issue of The Connecticut Economy, published by the Department of Economics, features Managing Editor Steven Lanza’s analysis of state-level economic resilience. Using the 2001 recession as a source of data, he finds that a variety of factors help to explain the difference in recovery time across the 50 states. He estimates several models that account for about two-thirds of the variation in recovery times in the earlier recession, but unfortunately none of the models points to a very quick recovery for Connecticut in the current recession.

Co-editor Arthur Wright diagnoses how President Obama’s stimulus bill has made a difference in education and transportation in Connecticut, both important sectors for long-run growth. Wright also questions what might happen when state taxpayer funds are used to replace the federal stimulus dollars to sustain ongoing projects and programs. The centerfold map of the Winter issue shows the variation in federal stimulus spending per person across the state’s 169 towns. As of November, the heaviest stimulus spending per capita had occurred in poorer urbanized areas and towns with considerable transportation infrastructure.

Connecticut, like other states, has recognized the long-term role of education in determining a state’s quality of life and economic performance. A guest commentary from Michael P. Meotti, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Higher Education, argues for increasing the educational attainment of the state’s citizens, emphasizing that “the knowledge and skills of our people will be the driving force of the Connecticut economy over the long term.” Two of the issue’s articles assess various aspects of the state’s educational system.

With nearly 58 percent of all Connecticut municipal spending earmarked for schools, recent cutbacks have forced educators to make do with less. Yet, despite these fiscal pressures, a study measuring the efficiency of the state’s high school districts, by co-editor Dennis Heffley and UConn graduate student Can Bekaroglu, finds that many districts fare well in preparing students for the SAT Reasoning Test—a primary “assessment tool” used by colleges and universities to evaluate readiness for higher education. Many regional high school districts and some of the familiar “premier” districts top the efficiency list, but a few districts with more modest SAT results are still quite efficient in improving the relative performance of their students. The value-added measure of performance used in the study helps to control for “student inputs,” but further analysis of the results indicates that socioeconomic factors and district size affect the measure of efficiency.

Connecticut boasts 42 colleges and universities and higher-ed enrollment exceeding 180,000; and it is near the top of the class when it comes to educational attainment—4th among states in the share of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree (34.8%) and 3rd in the share of advanced degree holders (15.1%). But contributing editor Bruce Blakey and his son, Robert, point out that there is still plenty of room to improve education in the Nutmeg State. International comparisons have raised concerns about the quality of U.S. education in areas like math and science, although such comparisons sometimes fail to control for the fraction of youth attending school or being tested. Closer to home, however, broad disparities in student backgrounds and resources across the state’s 169 towns result in big differences in test scores, graduation rates, and college attendance.

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

Prof. Couch has recently been named associate editor of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (JPAM). This is the official journal of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, a national association of public policy analysts and managers. JPAM is considered by most to be the top public policy journal in the United States.

Joseph Antelmi, an Honors student majoring in Economics, is the 2009 student recipient of the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Public Engagement. Provost Peter Nicholls announced the winners of the awards at a reception on December 9.

A resident of Suffield, Joe is active in a wide variety of outreach and engagement. He is on the board of directors of the Hartford non-profit End Hunger CT!, and has been involved with numerous public-interest organizations both on and off campus. The son of Italian immigrants, Joe is especially interested in immigration issues, and worked as a research assistant for History Professor Mark Overmeyer-Velasquez in creating an Honors course on migrant workers in Connecticut.

Joe has received a number of other University awards, including the Spirer/Drucker Humanitarian Award and the Audrey Beck scholarship, the latter given by the Economics Department. He was also one 14 students chosen for the 2009 UConn Leadership Legacy Experience, an endowed program that identifies and mentors top student leaders on campus. (Another Economics major, Phil Gorecki, is also in the 2009 Legacy cohort, and junior major Rafael Perez-Segura has been chosen for the 2010 cohort.)

Joe is carrying a 3.9 grade-point average, and was a University nominee for the Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell, and Truman scholarships. Next semester he will be studying abroad in Greece. And in what little spare time he has, he fronts a rock group called Exit 47.

Marina-Selini Katsaiti has recently completed her graduate studies at the Department of Economics of the University of Connecticut. Her PhD thesis, “Three Essays on the Economics of Obesity,” focused on different aspects relating to the economics of obesity (happiness, macroeconomic issues, health care costs). Selini defended her thesis in September 2009 under the significant and very valuable assistance and support of her advisor, Prof. Zimmermann, and associate advisors, Prof. Heffley and Prof. Randolph. Pieces of her thesis were presented in many international economics conferences and a section has been published in a book. In addition, an article outside her thesis, “Corruption and Growth Under Weak Identification,” co-authored with fellow graduates Philip Shaw and Marius Jurgilas has been accepted for publication by Economic Inquiry.

Selini is currently working as a researcher at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece), in the Department of Economics. In addition, she is working as an independent researcher for the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), a think tank in Belgium. Her research topics of interest include: economic growth, behavioral economics, corruption, trust and risk issues, and health economics.

The Right to Development, as established by the UN General Assembly in the 1986 Declaration on the Right to Development, enjoys growing international support. However the normative content of the right, though often referred to in international fora, has remained relatively opaque, and there has been concomitant difficulty for Member States and other actors both in determining the duties inherent in the right and in assessing whether or not those duties are being met at national and international levels.

Prof. Randolph has been commissioned by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to assist the High Level Task Force of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development in addressing that difficulty, and in particular in devising criteria to assess the implementation of the right. Working together with Maria Green, a lawyer specializing in Human Rights, her mandate is threefold: first, to establish a well-defined set of contours for the Right to Development to aid in effective operationalization and assessment; second, to devise a methodology for determining criteria, sub-criteria and indicators for use in
assessing implementation of the right; and third, to propose specific criteria, sub-criteria and indicators that might eventually be used as a basis for guidelines or a legal instrument on the right. The mandate additionally requires that the specific indicators proposed respond to the priority concerns of the international community as identified by the Working Group on the Right to Development including and going beyond those enumerated in Millennium Development Goal 8.

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