UO Economics undergraduate student Matthew Dodier’s research on the impact of major forest fires (such as those last summer in Oregon and other western states) on public health was featured in Around the O:
“Wildfires in Oregon were particularly intense in 2014, and as Dodier and Hansen kicked around ideas related to air pollution, “the idea of looking at forest fires came up,” Hansen says. “That’s something that is salient to everybody, but nobody had studied the impact on hospitalizations or its impact on pollution.”
The issue takes on new relevance as researchers examine the connection between air pollution and COVID-19. A recent study from Harvard, for example, found that Americans living in more polluted areas are more likely to die from the disease than those in clearer regions.”
The full story can be read on the Around the O website. Congratulations, Matthew!
The College of Arts and Sciences is currently accepting online applications for the following scholarships and fellowships for 2018-2019:
Mildred Braaten Archibald Scholarship Fund in Science and Mathematics
Mary Chambers Brockelbank Endowed Assistance Fund
Norman Brown Graduate Fellowship
Hazel Leonard Buck Scholarship
College of Arts and Sciences Graduate Scholarship
College of Arts and Sciences Scholarship
Clarence and Lucille Dunbar Scholarship
Henry V. Howe Scholarship
Hildegard Kurz Foreign Language Scholarship
John L. and Naomi Luvaas Graduate Fellowship
Miller Family Graduate Award in Technology & Science
Everett D. Monte Scholarship
Risa Palm Graduate Fellowship
Charles A. Reed Graduate Fellowship
Marthe E. Smith Memorial Science Scholarship
Clayton and Sheryl Steinke General Social Sciences Scholarship
Carolyn M. Stokes Memorial Scholarship
Susan A. Winn Memorial Scholarship
Please visit http://cas.uoregon.edu/cas-scholarships/ for more information on each scholarship’s criteria, average award amounts, and a link to the online application materials. The application deadline is Monday, February 26, 2018.
If you have any questions please contact the College of Arts and Sciences by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 346-0045.
Funding for the 2017-2018 academic year is now available for two scholarships!
Please apply by April 30, 2017.
Grace Miller Economics Scholarship
This scholarship is offered to encourage and support an academically strong UO undergraduate economics major who is an Oregon resident and who has demonstrated an interest in teaching. The scholarship is $2,500 and may be used for all standard educational expenses including tuition, fees, books, miscellaneous supplies, and room and board. Up to four awards may be given in any academic year.
The selection of the recipient(s) shall be based on the following criteria:
- Oregon resident undergraduate student(s) majoring in Economics
- Student(s) successfully demonstrating an interest in teaching
- Special consideration shall be given to women
If no eligible student interested in teaching applies to receive the award, then any undergraduate student majoring in economics is eligible to receive an award from the Fund.
The donor has a strong interest in providing financial assistance to students from diverse backgrounds. Given this interest, the donor recognizes that the awards from this Fund will help support the University’s commitment to a diverse student population, one that includes individuals of varying ages, genders, races, national origins, talents, etc., and those from underrepresented populations and/or economically disadvantaged background.
To apply for the Grace Miller Economics Scholarship, please do both of the following:
- Complete the online application
(please indicate for which scholarships you’re applying)
- Upload a 1-2 page personal statement that describes your background and your interest in teaching.
Alanson H. Kleinsorge Economics Scholarship
This scholarship is offered to support and encourage economics students who face academic challenges in their college careers. The scholarship of $1,500 will be applied to the recipient’s UO tuition and fees for the following academic year.
The selection of the recipient(s) shall be based on the following criteria:
- Low income individual eligible for financial aid and have a FAFSA on file with the Office of Student Financial Aid by application deadline.
- Student who has had academic difficulties at some point in their career (high school or college) and who has now made significant and sustained improvements in their academic performance.
- Have attended at least two terms at the university
- Must be enrolled at the University of Oregon when s/he applies, an Economics Major and must attend the university in the academic year immediately following awarding of the scholarship.
To apply for the Kleinsorge Economics Scholarship, please upload/provide the following information:
- Complete the online application
(please indicate for which scholarships you’re applying)
- Upload a 1-2 page personal statement that describes some of the academic challenges you’ve faced, and how you overcame them.
- You must also upload a current copy of your transcript.
To apply for other scholarships in the College of Arts and Sciences,click here.
For general University of Oregon scholarship information please visit the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships.
The Spring 2017 Course Schedule has two new EC 399 courses for undergraduate students to take! EC 399 courses are repeatable when the topic changes so undergraduate students may take and receive credit for both courses listed below.
EC 399 Economics of Inequality
- Instructor: Michael Jerman
- CRN: 31908
- Time: MW 1000-1120
- Tentative Syllabus: linked here
- Course Description: “Inequality is one of the most important issues facing today’s world. In this class, we will analyze inequality from an economic perspective. We will begin by studying the various ways to measure inequality and the normative properties of various inequality measures. We will next explore the historical evolution of inequality, a topic that has received considerable attention since the publication of Thomas Piketty’s famous book Capital in the Twenty-First Century. We will then move beyond income and analyze inequality along other dimensions, such as gender, race, and factors of production. Next, we will consider the real effects of inequality on health, mobility, growth, and other outcomes. Lastly, we will consider the future of inequality and the various policy interventions that have proposed to reduce it. At the end of this course, you will have an extensive understanding of what inequality is, the economic consequences of it, and how we might impact the current trends in inequality.”
EC 399 Behavioral Economics
- Instructor: Professor Jiabin Wu
- CRN: 36371
- Time: MW 1200-1320
- Tentative syllabus: linked here
- Course Description: “Behavioral economics incorporates psychologists’ perspectives on how people behave into formal economic analysis. Traditionally, economic theories assumes that people are good at making choices that achieve their aims. However, experimental evidences increasingly support the idea that people often deviate from rational behavior in systematic ways. This course focuses on what these deviations are and what kind of new insights they bring to economic applications.”
The Registrar’s Office has more information about registering for classes here.
Email email@example.com if you have any questions.
Linmei Amaya received the H.T. Koplin Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded to an Oregon resident who has finished the math and intermediate courses at the University of Oregon with at least a 3.6 GPA in their economics coursework.
Jennifer Leung, Emily Secord, Hannah Solheim, and Selena Trevino each received the department’s Grace Miller Economics Scholarship, which is for Oregon residents who have a demonstrated interest in teaching.
Selena Trevino and Tim Carignani have been awarded the Alanson H. Kleinsorge Scholarhip, which is awarded to economics majors who have overcome academic and financial hardships to succeed in their studies.
Imagine you’re planning a big dinner party. You’ll have money to work with, but there’s a catch: You won’t know how much money until after your dinner has begun.
Would you gamble, ordering lavish meals for each guest? Or keep it cheap, to avoid possibly ending up in the red? Maybe, if it turns out you’ll be flush with cash, you can rush to add an additional course or two?
This scenario is not unfamiliar to Oregon’s public school administrators, who are trapped in a state of perpetual fiscal uncertainty. They don’t control most of their funding—it comes from the state legislature and the amount changes frequently. So administrators can’t plan with any certainty what they’ll have to spend on their guests—that is, Oregon’s school-age children.
This is more than simply a nuisance for everyone concerned. The inability to plan funding hurts student performance.
So say Matthew Davis ’14 and Andrea Vedder ’15. The economics alumni found that math scores for Oregon eighth graders can drop by as much as 5 percent due to unstable funding that disrupts planning.
Their research began as an honors thesis and grew into an academic paper that was published earlier this year in the Journal of Education Finance.
Property taxes used to provide most of the funding for schools. This changed in the 1990s, when Oregon voters approved measures that kept property taxes down and severely limited the portion of property-tax revenues that could go toward schools.
These limits on local funding put the state on the hook for the bulk of school support. But fits and starts in the economy and other factors mean that the state’s budget picture is volatile, to say the least. That makes it difficult for lawmakers to guarantee the funding that will go to school administrators, especially over the long term.
Working with Joe Stone, a professor emeritus, Davis and Vedder initially found a correlation between low math test scores and communities whose school-tax revenues had been severely cut due to the measures. Stone challenged them to find out why.
Districts work with year-to-year budgets. But the legislature uses two-year budgets, which include the money that goes to schools.
So Davis and Vedder looked at both years of the state budget cycle, individually.
They found that during the first year, districts generally didn’t know how much funding they would receive from the state until the school year was well underway.
Talk about uncertainty: In one example, an urban school district reassigned hundreds of teachers outside their subject areas to make a meager budget work—but later learned that the budget would be better than expected.
Worse, Davis and Vedder found that the inability to plan ahead is most damaging to districts that are already cash-strapped. Those districts have less of their own property-tax money as a fallback when money from the state drops.
For Davis and Vedder, it was a surprise to discover just how big a role planning plays in student performance. “I always assumed that a lack of money caused problems,” Davis said. “But it was fascinating to discover the impact it had on planning.”
Even more surprising for Stone was that two undergraduates had been able to wade through the Oregon tax system to reveal this phenomenon.
“How could you pull out this one thing from something that can barely be explained?” he asked. “I was stunned.”
Glicker loved to eat at places like Viking Soul Food and the Swamp Shack. And when he started poking around for data on the economics behind this industry, he stumbled across something far more valuable than finding, say, the perfect crawfish pie.
It was early 2014, and the senior in economics was sitting pretty, on track to graduate in March. He could have coasted through those last few months of school.
But Glicker was curious what data existed on Rose City’s burgeoning street-corner meal makers, so he made a call to the Multnomah County Health Department. Jackpot: the department licenses food-cart vendors and tracks them from entry into the market to exit, which meant Glicker had stumbled upon access to tidy information capturing the lifespan of more than 700 food carts.
If some aspiring economist had tapped this data goldmine previously, Glicker was unaware of it; his advisors in the department were beside themselves.
“I had a usable data set on an industry that no one has studied in a serious way,” Glicker said. “We were, like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it, it’s going to be fun.’ I wanted to see how good I could get at this process of applied economics.”
Well-Behaved vs. Haphazard
Glicker sought to understand why the food cart market exploded between 2006 and 2011. The question was whether everything he’d learned in class about concepts such as “industrial organization” and “microeconomic relationships” would hold up in a real-world scenario involving haphazard, opportunistic businesses that are only as stable as the wheels carrying them throughout the city.
“Economics is full of theoretical explanations of how markets are structured, how firms behave, and what drives basic human decisions,” Glicker wrote in the introduction to his report. “But well-behaved economic ideals fly out the window as we walk out the door and toward the nearest food cart. Or do they? An in-depth analysis of this market over time affords a rare opportunity to evaluate and understand the essence of many market mechanisms.”
To determine what affects the performance of Portland’s food carts, Glicker assigned values to aspects of each business such as type, location, lifespan, local population and unemployment rates. Then, he ran a series of complicated calculations using equations from class that are meant to forecast economic outcomes.
Glicker essentially tested whether his efforts to “predict” performance based on economic principles would match what actually happened on the ground with the rise and fall of food carts over the six-year period.
One of his more interesting finds: food carts in northeast Portland were more likely to “exit the market” during that period—that is, go under—than those in the southeast. In the southeast, Glicker (above) wrote, “it is anticipated most local consumers have less disposable income and are of a lower median age than anywhere else in the city, making them ideal consumers of street food meals.” That’s a good description of the college-age Glicker himself, of course.
Ninety-Five Percent Accuracy
His conclusions for the entire project were no less insightful: Glicker correctly predicted more than 95 percent of those instances where food carts eventually went out of business. In fact, Glicker (left) found that the chance that any given outcome for a business was the result of a random event unforeseen by his model was less than 1 percent.
“It turned out that all the things that I was expecting to happen were actually happening,” Glicker said. “I thought, ‘OK, cool. I can understand (these economic principles) and see them happen in the real world.’”
The paper earned Glicker an award for “outstanding work on a thesis” from the university’s Clark Honors College.
Glicker attributes his success with this study to experience gained in conducting an earlier research project through the economic department’s honors program, which gives ambitious students the opportunity to perform analyses for actual clients. Students complete a research paper, hone their skills in applied economics, and—perhaps most important—get a firsthand look at how the real world works. Meanwhile, clients ranging from local community groups to the State of Oregon get useful analysis and recommendations that influence their policies.
Business Incubator—Boom or Bust?
This earlier project earned more recognition than Glicker could have imagined. Teaming up with fellow economics student Aaron Rouza on an analysis for the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, he assessed the possible impact of a $7.5 million investment by the State of Oregon in creating a local “business incubator.” These programs draw off research universities, technology, and other existing resources to spark entrepreneurship and attract startups.
That exercise tested Glicker’s command of “econometrics,” which is a way to provide a quantifiable value to economic questions through mathematics, statistical methods, and computer science. Using a combination of economic theory, equations, and data from sources such as the National Business Incubation Association, the duo predicted that the expenditure would create 94 jobs at technology-focused startups, generating $23 million in annual wages and about $1.9 million in annual tax revenue to the state.
The conclusion was less surprising to Glicker than the overwhelming reaction that followed. He and Rouza won “best paper of the year” in the economics department and the chamber shared the work with partners across Lane County. In no time at all, Glicker and Rouza found themselves presenting a PowerPoint version of their report to a room of mayors and business representatives.
One of the more challenging aspects of the experience, Glicker said, was working with the chamber to shape broad questions into more narrowly defined queries that could be analyzed. He spent hours in the office of economics professor Bruce Blonigen, an associate dean in the college, working to match the chamber’s goals for the project with the data available. Blonigen said Glicker’s research for the business incubator and food-cart projects exemplified Glicker’s status as one of the best students he has ever advised.
Glicker, an aw-shucks type who is more comfortable talking “regression estimation coefficients” than personal accomplishment, credited his growth to the experience of doing real research.
“The best thing I got out of this was the process,” Glicker said. “I learned what a deliverable was and how to work with a client to get them something they can use. Meanwhile, the working world sees your ability to navigate (around obstacles) and produce something.”
—By Matt Cooper
—Photo credit of food cart: CC by SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Original Website: https://cascade.uoregon.edu/fall2015/social-sciences/economics-a-la-cart/