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Ling Huang, Economics PhD from Duke University and currently post-doc at the Fisheries Economics Research Unit of the University of British Columbia, will be joining the department as Assistant Professor next Fall. Her research interests center on investigating the microeconomic foundations of macroeconomic outputs. Specifically, she is interested in evaluating the effectiveness of policies and impacts of resource exploitation, and discovering the underlying mechanisms.

Huang has conducted research on a wide range of topics in resource economics, including property rights and overexploitation of renewable resources, economic impact analysis of environmental stresses, impacts of greenhouse gas emissions, non-market evaluation, economic impact analysis of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, ‘green’ economy strategies and ecosystem-based management. She has published in Ecological Economics and Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science

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Prof. Susan Randolph has been informed that her NSF Grant Proposal, “Economic and Social Rights: Obstacle to Growth or Handmaiden of Growth?” has been rated “highest priority” and will be funded pending final approvals. Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and Terra Lawson-Remer both at New School are co-PIs on the grant. The grant request is for $233,000 and will be implemented over three years. The abstract of the grant appears below.

Countries are bound under international law to respect, protect, and fulfill the economic and social rights of their citizens. The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) legally obligates countries to fulfill the rights enumerated therein to the maximum of available resources. This translates to an obligation of progressive realization—under which the level of obligation on each country differs according to its resource capacity, but all must move as expeditiously and effectively as possible towards rights fulfillment.
In the face of the progressive realization standard, measuring the extent to which countries meet their economic and human rights obligations has posed a challenge to scholars, human rights advocates, and the treaty monitoring body of the ICESCR. A central component of this project is the refinement and consolidation of an annual and longitudinal international social and economics rights fulfillment index (SERF Index) that for the first time makes the standard of progressive realization operational.
The second component of this project utilizes the SERF Index to address three empirical questions. First, is there a trade-off between meeting economic and social rights obligations and economic growth? Second, do some policies simultaneously foster the fulfillment of economic and social rights obligations and economic growth? Third, to what extent does a government’s success (or failure) to meet obligations under the ICESCR depend on direct ESR expenditures, the ability to raise revenues, and the interplay between the two? Cross-sectional and time-series econometric techniques are used to address the first two questions, while case studies are used to address the third.
As a whole, the project will promote greater understanding of the policies that promote economic and social rights, conflicts and synergies between those policies and other goals, and the political economy dynamics inducing countries to meet or shirk their obligations under the ICESCR. The project also develops and makes publicly accessible a rigorous assessment tool—the SERF Index—for use by scholars, human rights advocates, and UN Treaty bodies alike.

The Association of Graduate Economics Students (AGES) invites every year a prominent speaker to give a public lecture on campus. Over the past years, speakers included Greg Mankiw, Ariel Rubinstein and Karl Case as well as Nobel Laureates Finn Kydland and Robert Lucas. This year’s speaker will be Carmen Reinhart.

Prof. Reinhart is a specialist of financial crises and has extensively studied the many collapses in economic history. Her studies have recently culminated in a book with Kenneth Rogoff, This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly (Princeton Press), which will be at the center of her talk February 24, 2011, at 11:00 AM in the Konover Auditorium, Dodd Research Center. The talk is open to the public.

Prof. Reinhart has a PhD from Columbia University and recently moved from the University of Maryland to the Peterson Institute of International Economics. She has been deputy research director at the International Monetary Fund and chief economist at Bear Stearns. She is currently the top ranked female economist.

More details at AGES.

Nishith Prakash will be joining the University of Connecticut in January 2012 as assistant professor on a joint position with the Department of Economics and the Human Rights Institute. He received his PhD in Economics from University of Houston, TX and his Master’s from Delhi School of Economics at University of Delhi, India. He is currently a post-doctoral research associate at Cornell University. His primary research interests are Development Economics, Labor Economics and Public Policy. In Development Economics, his current research focuses on understanding the effects of employment and political reservation policies in India on labor market outcomes, child labor and poverty. In Labor Economics, his research interests lie in analyzing returns to English-language skills, labor market discrimination, and occupational choices among minorities in India. He is also a research fellow both at IZA and CReAM.

Richard M. H. Suen has recently accepted to join next Fall the department as Assistant Professor. A native of Hong Kong, he obtained his undergraduate degree from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and then his PhD at the University of Rochester. He is currently at the University of California, Riverside.

Prof. Suen is a macroeconomist with both theoretical and applied interests. He has published on suburbanization in the International Economics Review, on process approximation in the Review of Economic Dynamics and growth theory in the Journal of Macroeconomics. His current research pertains to understanding the consequences of time preference as well as the link between technological progress and health care spending.

Stephen Ross is part of a team that combines researchers from Indiana University, New York University and Northwestern University that was recently awarded an $800,000 grant for their proposal “The Effects of Housing Instability on Children’s Education Outcomes.” This study will examine the effects of foreclosures in New York City plus three large school districts in California and Florida on the educational outcomes of children. The proposed research employs data sets that geographically links the foreclosure of specific buildings or housing units to longitudinal student administrative data in the following K-12 public school districts: New York City; San Diego, California; Fresno, California; and Pinellas (St. Petersburg/Clearwater), Florida. These districts are particularly appropriate for this study because each experienced widespread foreclosures recently, and New York City experienced other forms of housing upheavals, providing a rich context for linking housing instability to student outcomes. Longitudinal student level data will be available for all three sites for 2003 through 2008 allowing us to examine whether exposure to foreclosures or to neighborhoods with high foreclosure rates can explain changes in students test scores over time.

For details, see the MacArthur Foundation.

Annually the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) holds a research paper competition. This year first-prize (making it a “Hirsh Prize Recipient”) was awarded to the paper “Calculating Return on Investment for US Department of Defense Modeling and Simulation,” authored by, among others, William E. Waite, a UConn 2nd year PhD student. The paper will be presented during the DAU Acquisition Community Symposium on Tuesday 12 April 2011, and published in April’s edition of Defense Acquisition Research Journal.

Within any complex organization there exists a need to measure and monitor the effectiveness of expenditures; that is, there is a ubiquitous necessity to monitor how well agents allocate limited resources between the many potential projects they are presented, within a specific institutional context. Such measurement is particularly challenging for institutions (or, in situations) where a market mechanism for pricing different outcomes is not available. The United States Department of Defense (US-DoD) is one such institution.

Each year, the US-DoD allocates billions of dollars to external contractors, as well as internal departments, to pursue modeling-and-simulation (M&S) projects. The benefits of these initiatives are generally not monetary – or easily convertible to a specific monetary value. Rather, the desired results are seen in measures of increased readiness of the country’s armed forces, better trained individuals, improvements in procedures or approaches that result in fewer human casualties during combat missions, and the like. Given the nature of these benefits, it is not surprising that measuring the “return-on-investment” (ROI) of a US-DoD M&S project presents government officials with a formidable challenge.

In “Calculating Return on Investment for US Department of Defense Modeling and Simulation,” the authors provide a systematic methodology to approach address this particular challenge. By utilizing a decision analysis framework based on the economic principle of utility maximization, the authors create a framework in which the US-DoD can obtain ROI-like results for ranking and evaluating projects, which can then be used in resource allocation decisions and analysis.

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