Economics and Business Division Seminars

Fall 2015

August 26th, 2015 (3:15 EH 211)
Speaker: Ralph Mastromonaco, Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Oregon
Bio: Ralph Mastromonaco is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Oregon. His research covers a variety of topics in public and environmental economics.  His current research is focuses on applications and methods of non-market valuation.  Additionally, he has several projects examining the impact that the hydraulic fracturing boom has had on local communities.
Topic: Measuring Neighborhood Preferences under Credit Constraints, with Edward Kung (UCLA)
Abstract: We study the biases that result from ignoring credit constraints in revealed preference models. Bias arises from three sources: 1) heterogeneity in borrowing costs; 2) an increasing interest rate with respect to borrowing amount; and 3) binding borrowing constraints. Using a novel dataset on housing transactions merged with buyer credit reports from Atlanta, we show that ignoring credit constraints biases estimates for willingness-to-pay for school quality downwards by 2 percent. The downward bias is stronger for low SES households (5 percent). The results suggest that credit constraints are an important factor to account for when evaluating amenities using housing and neighborhood choice data. 

 

September 2nd, 2015 (3:15 EH 211)
Speaker: Sarah Jacobson, Williams College Department of Economics; Co-author (not presenting): Angela de Oliveira, University of Massachusetts Amherst Department of Resource Economics
Bio: Sarah Jacobson is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Williams College, which she joined in 2010. She completed her PhD in Economics at Georgia State University in 2010 and her Bachelor of Science in Engineering at Harvey Mudd College in 1998. She is an environmental and behavioral economist who mainly studies the interactions between social preferences and institutions, mostly using laboratory experiments. Specific themes in her work include reciprocity, cases in which social preferences yield inefficient outcomes, and punishment. She has current projects on the enforcement of water pollution regulations, risk preferences, proxy decision-making, and racial bias.
Topic: Patience by Proxy: Making Time Preference Decisions for Others
Abstract: Individuals or organizations entrusted to make decisions for the benefit of others may face options that are tempting but short-sighted as compared to choices that give longer-term rewards. Are people more or less tempted by a small positive outcome today (as compared to a large positive outcome in the future) when making choices for others than for themselves? We use a laboratory experiment to address this question. Each subject makes a series of decisions to allocate time worked at a tedious task (text transcription) across two work periods, one occurring immediately and one six weeks later, with a discount rate (penalty for procrastination) applied across the periods. Each subject makes this set of decisions for themselves and for another person; for some subjects the other person is a friend and for some it is a stranger. We find that subjects choose differently for others than for themselves, and this difference is greater when choosing for strangers. In particular, subjects choose more impatiently (i.e. choose less time now and more time later) for others than for themselves, and this effect is greater when the other is a stranger. The difference between self and other decisions (and also between friend and stranger decisions) is smallest for the smallest and largest discount rates. Questionnaire responses show that a subject’s choices for his/her partner are driven by what he/she prefers for his/her own time allocations and by care for the other (wanting to minimize total time worked or wanting distribute time in a desirable way, which was often expressed as a wish to let him/her get more of the work done sooner). This seems at odds with the pattern of actual decisions we observe. The decisions our subjects made can be explained by people being somewhat impatient for themselves but expecting others to be more impatient, particularly when those others are less personally close to the decision-maker. 

 

September 18th, 2015 (3:15 EH 211)
Speaker: Kevin Novan, Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis
Bio: Kevin Novan is an assistant professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis. His research interests are in the fields of energy and environmental economics, focusing primarily on the design of environmental policies targeted towards the electricity sector. Recent work quantifies the impact of renewable electricity on pollution and examines the energy savings provided by residential energy efficiency investments.
Topic: Using Smart Meter Data to Evaluate the Returns to Energy Efficiency
Abstract: This paper uses hourly smart-meter data to estimate the social and private cost savings provided by residential energy efficiency investments. Focusing on over 5,000 households in Sacramento, CA that receive new, energy efficient air conditioning units (AC), we estimate not only how much energy savings are caused by the AC upgrades, but also when the energy savings occur. By determining when the energy savings take place, we are able to accurately estimate the avoided generation and pollution costs. We find that, on average, the AC upgrades reduce electricity consumption by 5%. Within the households that account for the majority of the energy savings, the avoided consumption provides an average social benefit of $9.78/month. However, under the current increasing block pricing structure, the households save an average of $27.30/month on their electricity bills. These results highlight that, under the current retail pricing structure – i.e., low fixed fees with high, increasing variable charges – investments in residential energy efficiency are being dramatically oversubsidized.  

 

September 25th, 2015 (3:15 EH 211)

Speaker: Steve Puller, Texas A&M

Topic and Abstract: TBA

 

October 9th, 2015 (3:15 EH 211)

Speaker: Laura Grant, University of Wisconsin-Milwaulkee

Topic and Abstract: TBA

 

November 6th, 2015 (3:15 EH 211)

Speaker: Elisa Belfiori, Colorado State University

Topic and Abstract: TBA

 

November 13th, 2015 (3:15 EH 211)
Visiting Scholar: Adrienne Ohler is an Associate Professor of Economics at Illinois State University
Bio: Adrienne Ohler is an Associate Professor of Economics at Illinois State University. Her research interests examine the interaction between natural resource use, environmental degradation, and public policy. Adrienne’s work at Illinois State includes estimating the value of environmental characteristics, understanding the welfare implications of lottery allocation for natural resource access, examining the relationship between income and environmental quality, and analyzing policies that impact the use of renewable energy.

Seminar Topic/Title: Fuel Cost Volatility and the Impact on Electricity Prices

Seminar Abstract: This paper examines the relationship that exists between the fuel cost for coal, crude oil, and natural gas, and electricity prices in the United States.  We examine the response of electricity prices to changes in natural gas, coal, and crude oil prices by modeling the relationship using several different econometric models including VECM, OLS, the GARCH class, and Bayesian models to compare each model’s ability to both forecast future prices and provide reasonable interpretations.  Preliminary results suggest that less than 10% of the variation in electricity prices is explained by variation in fuel costs.

November 20th, 2015 (3:15 EH 211)

Speaker, Topic and Abstract: TBA

 

Archived Seminars

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