EB Division Seminar Series - Abstracts

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Economics and Business Division Seminars

Spring 2017 Speakers:

March 10, 2017 (3:15 EH 211)
Speaker: Christoph Böhringer, University of Oldenburg
Topic
: Paris After Trump: Carbon Tariffs Reloaded
Abstract: The Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015 builds on global cooperation and coordination of greenhouse gas emission abatement where more than 190 countries contribute via voluntary pledges, so-called intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs). The Agreement entered into force on 5 October 2016, after all the world top emitters – most notably, China, the United States, India, and the European Union – ratified. However, the outcome of the recent US presidential elections may throw a serious wrench in the international climate policy works. Opposite to Barack Obama who pushed Paris as a “turning point for the planet” his successor Donald Trump has called climate change a “hoax” and promised to scrap the deal. Against the background of a potential US withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, this paper assesses the economic impacts of carbon tariffs levied  by Paris-compliant countries on US imports and the consequences of US retaliation by optimal tariffs as well as the outcome of a multilateral trade war. For our quantitative assessment we use a multi-sectoral multi-regional computable general equilibrium (CGE) model based on most recent data from the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP). (flyer)

March 17, 2017 (3:15 EH 211)
Speaker: Nick Kuminoff, Arizona State University

Topic: Hazed and Confused: The Effects of Air Pollution on Cognitive Functioning and Financial Decision Making Among the Elderly
Abstract: Dementia is one of the most terrifying and expensive shocks to human health. In its most common form—Alzheimer’s disease—patients experience a progressive decline of their cognitive and functional skills. The medical literature demonstrates that ambient air pollution is positively associated with dementia rates in particular cohorts and geographic locales. Our study provides the first nationally representative longitudinal cohort study of how long term exposure to air pollution affects cognitive decline and financial decision making among the elderly. We link administrative records from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services to information on spatial sorting in the housing market and leverage a quasi-experimental design to estimate how long term pollution exposure affects a variety of financial and health outcomes including (1) medically diagnosed cognitive impairment, (2) health care expenditures, (3) potential savings in health insurance markets, and (4) the probability of violating axioms of consumer preference theory when choosing among health insurance plans.  Preliminary results suggest that long term exposure to fine particulates negatively affects all of these outcomes.  For example, we find that a 10 microgram per cubic meter increase in 10-year annual average exposure to fine particles (pm2.5) increases the probability of being diagnosed with dementia by one to two percentage points. (flyer) 

April 14, 2017 (3:15 EH 211)
Speaker: Arthur Van Bentham, Wharton School of Business

Topic: Sufficient Statistics for Imperfect Externality-Correcting Policies
Abstract: Pigouvian taxes can fully correct for market failures due to externalities, but actual policies are commonly forced to deviate from the Pigouvian ideal due to administrative or political constraints. We utilize our approach in three diverse empirical applications: random mismeasurement in externalities, imperfect spatial policy differentiation, and heterogeneity in the longevity of energy-consuming durable goods. Regarding the latter, we use our method and a novel data set and find that policies that regulate vehicle fuel-economy, but ignore the differences in average longevity across types of automobiles, recover only about one-quarter to one-third of the welfare gains achievable by a policy that also takes product longevity into account. In contrast, our other two empirical applications suggest that policy imperfections have only small welfare costs. (flyer)

 

Fall 2016 Speakers:

September 12, 2016 (3:15 EH 211)
Speaker: Ivan Rudik, Iowa State University

Topic: External Impacts of Local Energy Policy: The Case of Renewable Portfolio Standards
Abstract: Renewable portfolio standards (RPSs) are state level policies that require in-state electricity providers to procure a minimum percentage of electricity from renewable sources. Using theoretical and empirical models, we show that RPSs induce out-of-state emissions reductions because states allow for inter state trade of the credits used for RPS compliance. When one state passes an RPS, it increases demand for credits sold by firms in other (potentially non-RPS) states. We find that increasing one state's RPS decreases coal generation and increases wind generation in outside states. The annual aggregate value of avoided criteria coal pollution ranges between $0.4-$2.0 billion. (Flyer)

September 30, 2016 (3:15 EH 211)
Speaker: Mar Reguant, Northwestern University
Topic: Learning from Schools about Energy Efficiency
Abstract: This paper studies the impacts of energy efficiency investments at public K-12 schools in California. Schools provide a rare laboratory to analyze energy efficiency as there are thousands of them, all pursuing very similar economic activities but exposed to different outdoor temperatures and existing infrastructures. We make use of high frequency metering data to develop several approaches to estimating counterfactual energy consumption absent the energy efficiency investments. In particular, we use difference-in-difference approaches with rich sets of fixed effects. We also implement a novel machine-learning approach to predict counterfactual energy consumption at treated schools, and validate the approach with non-treated schools. Using both approaches, we find that the energy efficiency projects in our sample reduce electricity consumption between 2 to 4% on average, which can result in substantial savings to schools. (Flyer)

October 21, 2016 (3:15 EH 211)
Speaker: Nathan Wozny, U.S Air Force Academy
Topic: Time Use and Earnings:What’s Gender got to do with it?
Abstract: This research, coauthored by Wozny and Nan Maxwell (Mathematica Policy Research),  assesses how gender-based norms about work and household responsibilities and the economic incentives to specialize labor within a household create gender differences in time allocated to work and household production and earnings. It isolates the influence of each using the American Community Survey and American Time Use Survey and four groups of individuals with homogeneous within-group needs for household production: singles without children, single parents, marrieds without children, and married parents. Results suggest that norms contribute up to 62 minutes to the gender gap in daily time spent working, while specialization of labor in the household contributes up to 77 minutes to that same gap. The relative importance of gender-based norms in explaining time-use gaps, along with similar findings for labor market outcomes, suggest that policies designed to reduce gender gaps in time use and earnings might not be successful unless differences in the norms surrounding how females and males should behave in household production and work disappear. (Flyer)

October 28, 2016 (3:15 EH 211)
Speaker: Louis Preonas, UC Berkeley
Topic: Out of the Darkness and Into the Light? Development Effects of Rural Electrification
Abstract: Over 1 billion people still lack access to electricity. Developing countries are investing billions of dollars in rural energy access, with explicit goals of reducing poverty and spurring economic growth. Despite the scale of these programs, there is limited empirical evidence of their  effectiveness. This paper estimates the effects of rural electrification on economic development in the context of India’s massive national electrification program, which improved power access in over 400,000 villages. We use a regression discontinuity design and high-resolution geospatial and administrative data to identify the medium-run economic effects of electrification. We find a substantial increase in electricity use, but we can reject even modest effects on labor markets, asset ownership, housing characteristics, village-wide outcomes, household wealth, and school enrollment. This suggests that rural electrification may not be as beneficial as previously thought. (Flyer)

November 18, 2016 (3:15 EH 211)
Speaker: Elisa Belfiori, Colorado State University
Topic: Carbon Trading, Carbon Taxes, and Social Discounting
Abstract: This paper studies the optimal taxation of carbon emissions in a dynastic economy. When the welfare function places direct Pareto weights on unborn generations, the social discount rate is lower than the discount rate of the current generation. I show that this welfare criterion has important consequences for the structure of the optimal regulatory system. In particular, I show that: (i) the optimal carbon tax does not in general equal the social cost of carbon (the Pigouvian rate); (ii) a subsidy on oil reserves is sometimes optimal; and (iii) carbon trading programs should limit the award of carbon offset allowances. (Flyer)

December 2, 2016 (3:15 EH 211)
Speaker: Eric Alston, University of Colorado, Boulder

Topic: Ecuador's 2008 Constitution:The Political Economy of Securing an Aspirational Social Contract
Bio: Eric Alston's background displays a commitment to better understanding fundamental societal institutions such as the rule of law and property rights, with experience ranging from criminal justice reform advocacy to active involvement in constitutional drafting processes. Ultimately, it is this passion for understanding the institutional building blocks of modern societies that guides him in pursuit of his research agenda. Eric's current research projects blend his practical experience with an academic specialization in institutional and organizational analysis and law and economics, informed by his pursuit of a Masters in Economics from the University of Maryland and a JD from the University of Chicago. Previous areas of research include constitutional process design, constitutional drafting, constitutional implementation, economic development, comparative institutional analysis, and law & economics. Methods employed have ranged from statistical analysis of large data sets to creation of unique datasets based upon numerous constitutions. [CU Leeds School of Business] (Flyer)


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