Look for the next GCER Newsletter in June. Past Newsletters can be found here.

News Archive - Page 19

  • GU Econ PhD student receives prestigious Jordan Award.

    The Economic Club of Washington presented its prestigious Vernon E. Jordan Jr Fellowship Award this year to GU PhD student Mauricio Villamizar. The award was given to Mr. Villamizar in recognition for his essay "Identifying the Effects of Monetary Policy Shocks: Evidence from Colombia." Mr. Villamizar, a fourth year student in the GU PhD program, completed his paper under the guidance of advisor and GCER Fellow Guido Kuersteiner. The award ceremony took place at an Economic Club luncheon on May 16 at the Grand Hyatt featuring Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank.

  • Winter, 2012. Featured Research Profile.

    Happiness is in the air! Levinson uses happiness surveys to put a dollar value on air quality.

    click to get Levinson paper

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was responsible for 32 of the 105 major rules issued by U.S. federal agencies in 2010. How do economists put a dollar value on the environmental benefits of such rules? This is one of the greatest challenges facing environmental economics, and a new paper by GCER Faculty Fellow Arik Levinson proposes and tests a new approach.

    There are three existing and often-used methods of valuing the environment. The first is the "travel cost" approach which originated in a letter by famed economist Harold Hotelling. Hotelling wrote to the National Park Service in 1947, suggesting that the Park Service examine how much people spend traveling to unpolluted recreational sites. A second method, the hedonic regression approach, regresses housing prices on neighborhood characteristics including air quality. Finally, the contingent valuation approach directly asks people their willingness to pay for environmental improvements.

    In recent work, Levinson proposes and estimates an alternative based on "happiness" surveys. The fundamental idea combines data from two sources. The General Social Survey asks respondents how happy they are, on a three-point scale, along with their incomes and other demographic information. And the EPA collects daily air pollution data from thousands of monitors all over the U.S. Combining these two sources, it is possible to estimate respondents' happiness as a function of their incomes and the air quality in the place and on the day they were asked the happiness question.

    The approach is summarized in two equations. The first is a regression equation with each individual's response to the happiness survey as the left hand side variable. On the right hand side are the individual's income and demographic data and the local air quality conditions. From this equation, Levinson derives a second equation that describes the individual's marginal willingness to trade income for pollution reduction. From this second equation, Levinson estimates how much more income people would have to earn in order to feel at least as happy as they would with an improvement in air quality.

    Levinson applies this approach to airborne particulates smaller than 10 microns (PM10), a common measure of air pollution. He finds that, on average, people appear to be willing to forgo about $40 of annual income for a one-standard-deviation reduction in particulate pollution for one day. How large is this change? A one-standard-deviation change represents a 50 percent increase (or decrease) in pollution! This corresponds to a move by an individual from an average county in the United States to one of the most polluted counties, for instance to Riverside or San Bernardino, CA. It also corresponds approximately to the improvement in air quality attributed to the 1970 and 1977 Clean Air Acts.

  • The upcoming 2012 Razin Policy Lecture to be delivered by David Card.

    The 2012 Razin Policy Lecture will be delivered by David Card, the Class of 1950 Professor of Economics at UC Berkeley. This year's Razin Lecture is entitled "Social Interactions" and takes place on Tuesday, April 17, 2012, at 4:00 pm in the BSB 490 Fisher Colloquium at Georgetown University.

    Professor Card was honored by the American Economic Association in 1995 with the John Bates Clark Medal. More he received the Frisch Medal in 2007 for the outstanding research paper (with D. Hyslop) published in Econometrica in 2005, and the IZA Prize in Labor Economics in 2006, from Germany's Institute for the Study of Labor, the leading award for labor economists. David Card's research spans a wide range of issues and problems in labor economics. He research topics include the effect of minimum wage, the impacts of immigration, the consequences of racial segregation, and the effects policy changes on health insurance utilization and on health. Card's most recent work studies peer effects and inequality in the workplace.

    The Razin Lecture is accompanied by the awarding of the Razin Prize for best research paper by an advanced graduate student. This year's prize goes to David Phillips (pictured at right) for his essay, "Getting to Work: Experimental Evidence on Job Search and Transportation Costs," produced under the guidance of Prof. William Jack. Click here for more on the Razin Prize and Policy Lecture, its background and history.

  • Call for Nominations: First IZA@DC Young Scholar Program

    Organizers: Steffen Kunn (IZA), Francis Vella (Georgetown University, GCER, and IZA)
    Place: Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA
    Date: October 22 - October 26, 2012

    The GU Economics Department and GCER join with IZA to host the inaugural IZA@DC Young Scholar Program. Its the main objective is to expose young scholars to the world's leading labor economists through a week of presentations and to give them the opportunity to collaborate on research projects with IZA Research Fellows in the DC area.

    For more details and for procedures to apply see IZA Call for Nominations.

  • GCER Fellow's Inequality Research Featured at Becker-Friedman Conference.

    Prof. Axel Anderson
    The inaugural conference on at the Becker-Friedman Institute on Measuring and Interpreting Inequality featured a plenary address by Lones Smith (U. Wisconsin), on his joint work with GCER Fellow Axel Anderson entitled "Matching with Evolving Human Capital". The paper revisits Nobelist Gary Becker's classic 1973 paper "A Theory of Marriage", adding in an important unexplored feature -- namely, that individuals are changed by their peers. When post docs take low wage temporary positions or parents pay for expensive private schooling to keep their children away from bad influences, they make a clear sacrifice of current for future welfare. Anderson and Smith's paper develops the general theory of such matching, and shows how one model simultaneously explains a myriad of time series and cross-sectional wage and matching patterns in the economy.