Graduate Programs

The economics department offers separate programs leading to the M.A. and the Ph.D. degrees. The department’s faculty members have an orientation toward applied and policy-related economics that is built on a strong foundation of economic theory and statistical and econometric methods.

The department has a low graduate student -to-faculty ratio. The average number of students in an entering Ph.D. class ranges from 8 to 12 with a somewhat larger number entering the M.A. program. This small size allows for more interaction between faculty and students than is found in other programs with larger numbers of students. The department enjoys strong loyalty from its many distinguished alumni, who have positions in academia, business, and government.

Recent Graduate Research

  • Hoang Pham recently defended his dissertation. He had studied how opening economically to trade affects competition in the domestic labor market. Additionally, Hoang studies the impacts of globalization on productivity growth and intergenerational mobility in developing countries. The three chapters of his dissertation will be submitted as three separate papers to economics journals. He will be joining Oregon State University as Assistant Professor of Economics in the fall.

  • Ross Jestrab's research studies the motives for trade agreements. He examines the effect of domestic labor mobility on the formation of trade agreements. In an ongoing project, he is examining whether countries use trade agreements to internalize their motive or to manipulate the trading partners price. 

  • Yimin Yi  studied the link between the elimination of trade policy uncertainty by the grant of permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status to China by the U.S. Congress. He has additionally examined the evolution of China’s manufacturing employment. He has two other ongoing projects: (a) an estimation of a dynamic stochastic structural model of firm-level import and export decisions, including that firm’s future productivity path; and (b) the impact of the 2018 US-China trade war on global supply chains. 

  • Nam Seok Kim, in a paper coauthored with Leyla Karakas and Devashish Mitra, used the Swedish National Election Survey to study attitudes towards trade and immigration, while examining their effect on voting behavior. The paper has been submitted to a journal. He is currently working on another paper that studies the impact of trade and immigration on election outcomes.

  • Dan Zhang is currently analyzing how FDI liberalization in China influences the wage markdown (wage/marginal revenue product) by worker education levels. FDI liberalization can attract some foreign firms which pay a higher wage especially to highly educated workers, thereby changing employment levels of local firms and their wage markdowns.

  • Huong Tran has been conducting research related to the estimation of the distribution of wages. In many countries, the distribution of earnings is skewed to the right. There are economic theories that can explain this right-skewness, which can be divided into three groups: chance, choice by economic agents, and institutional factors such as the minimum wage. Which economic theory produces a probability density function of (log) wage that is the closest to the truth? The answer to this question has important implications for distributive justice and public policy, since questions in those fields rely on the estimation of counterfactual densities of (log) wages. However, this task has not been carried out in a real empirical setting. Huong estimates the probability density function of (log) wage implied by economic theories of the distribution of earnings, and ranks the theories using statistical measures of closeness between the fitted density and the true density. Using a nationally representative Brazilian cross-sectional household survey for the year 2001, she finds that the minimum wage should be modeled explicitly in any labor market where a minimum wage policy is implemented since, otherwise, the resulting predicted density significantly differs from the true density of (log) wages.

  • Dahae Choo has been evaluating the effects of a pro-natalist policy introduced by local governments in South Korea, a country with one of the lowest fertility rates worldwide. Given that in South Korea marriage is largely a pre-condition to childbearing, Dahae accounts for the joint decision to marry and have children. Her setting is rich compared to other settings in which similar policies have been evaluated (in other countries, the policies are set at the national level): in South Korea the local nature of the policy implies that there is rich variation in transfer amounts that can be used for identification. Also, Dahae is able to estimate fertility responses at different transfer levels. Her results suggest that the policy has no substantial effect on the total number of children or the probability of having a child, casting some doubt on the effectiveness of the policy. Her results suggest that an additional 1,000 USD transfer from the program would increase the birth probability by just 0.26 percentage points, implying that only 0.89% more married females would enter into maternity due to the policy. Dahae also analyzes the time-to-motherhood, which could lead to fertility increases in the long run. She finds that a 1,000 USD transfer from the program induced females to have their first child eight months earlier, but the timing of her second delivery was not affected. Collectively, the results indicate that the policy does not seem to fulfill its goal.