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Economics in Action

Recent articles, publications, and news items featuring Econ Department faculty, students, alumni, and staff.

Triton Athletes Face the Hidden Opponent
Economics undergraduate student Reilly Erickson and Psychology undergraduate student Zoë Richards, both members of the UC San Diego softball team, told UC San Diego Today about their work with The Hidden Opponent, a student organization that strives for increased mental health awareness in sports culture. “You’re expected to be a good athlete but you're also expected to be a good student, teammate and friend,” Richards said about the pressure placed on student athletes to excel in all areas. My goal,” Erickson added about The Hidden Opponent’s mission, “is to collaborate with coaches and teams to create safe spaces for athletes to talk about their mental health and advocate for athletes as a whole.” 



Are Higher Mortgage Rates Enough To Slow San Diego Home Price Growth?
James Hamilton of Economics, a regular member of the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Econometer panel, said that a 7.52% interest rate, the highest mortgage rate this year, will deter some homebuyers. “Rates are going to take much longer to come down than many people had been assuming. If you’re going to be stuck paying that high interest for many years, you have to rethink purchasing an expensive home.” Hamilton also contributed to the Econometer discussions of whether San Diego should implement the $25 service worker minimum wageBiden's raised tariffs on Chinese EVs,the impact of San Diego City Council increasing developer fees, and whether a new neighborhood group in Uptown is a positive development.

Education, Collaboration Help Launch Startups at UC San Diego
In 2015, we launched The Basement with complementary objectives of incubating ideas and student entrepreneurs,” Economics alum Jeff Belk ’83 told UC San Diego Magazine. The Basement, co-founded by Belk and housed in the new Design and Innovation Building, features a prototyping lab, standing tables, computers and large-scale screens to foster collaboration and interdisciplinary brainstorming.

System Changers: Notes on Session 3 of TED2024
Karthik Muralidharan of Economics and Political Science doctoral alum Rumman Chowdhury gave TED2024 talks, as did Keolu Fox of Anthropology. Stay tuned for the videos! We’ll share as they become available.

Meet the 2024 Alumni Award Honorees
ICYMI, you can watch these videos celebrating our amazing Alumni Award recipients: Deborah Bronston-Culp '80 of Economics, The Rt. Rev. John Harvey Taylor '80 of Political Science, Alondra Nelson '94 of Anthropology, and Mayly Tao '12 of Communication. 

Champions of Change: Celebrating UC San Diego’s Volunteer Community
In celebration of Volunteer Appreciation Week, UC San Diego Today featured Economics undergraduate student Tyler Lenart and Economics alum Frank Bellavia ’16 for their community service work on campus and beyond. “Support your local community and your local economy – visit the stores around you, see how people live, why they work, where they are from and get involved to help support them,” Bellavia advised those looking to start volunteer work.

Is the Negative Effect of the $20 Fast-Food Minimum Wage Overblown?
James Hamilton of Economics told the San Diego Union-Tribune, as part of their Econometer panel, that the negative impact of a $20 fast-food minimum wage is very real. “A recent survey found 1 in 8 Americans had worked for McDonald’s at some point in their lives. Now fewer of these jobs are going to be available in California.” Hamilton also contributed to the expert panels on Sea World's declining attendancewhether the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates, and whether California’s Supreme Court should overturn new rooftop solar rules

Niehaus Wins Econometric Society's 2024 Frisch Medal
Congratulations to Paul Niehaus of Economics on winning the Econometric Society’s 2024 Frisch Medal for his contributions to the paperGeneral Equilibrium Effects of Cash Transfers: Experimental Evidence from Kenya.” The Frisch Medal celebrates the best applied paper published in Econometrica in a four-year period. 

As Population Growth Slows, San Diego May Not Need to Build as Many New Homes
Has San Diego County already built enough new housing to accommodate all the currently projected population growth through the year 2050? The answer, surprisingly, is ‘yes,’” Richard  Carson of Economics writes in a Times of San Diego opinion piece. In spite of this, homelessness rates have not changed much, because most new housing developments are high-end, so a lack of affordable housing in San Diego is still an issue community planners must address.

2024 Economic Report of the President
Research by Juan Herreño of Economics was cited in the 2024 Economic Report of the President released by the White House and its Council of Economic Advisers.

Architectural rendering of Malk Hall

Brian and Nancy Malk Donate to UC San Diego Department of Economics, Naming Malk Hall
La Jolla resident and businessman Brian C. Malk and his wife, Nancy, have pledged a philanthropic gift to support the expansion of the Department of Economics. Slated for completion in 2026 as part of Ridge Walk North Living and Learning Neighborhood, Brian C. Malk Hall will also house the Hub Basic Needs Center and the Triton Food Pantry. “Malk Hall will provide a collaborative space for our faculty, students and our many partners as we strive to foster the thought leaders and changemakers of tomorrow,” said Carol Padden, dean of the School of Social Sciences. Economics chair Marc Muendler added: “Malk Hall will be a magnet for students, faculty and thinkers from across campus and from around the world.” 

IMG_8725.jpgSue King, the department's long-serving manager, has retired effective April 30, 2024, and Nicole Daneshvar has stepped into the role of Chief Administrative Officer. To celebrate Sue's outstanding managerial skills and unwavering support for the Economics Department over the course of 13 years, faculty and staff got together on April 18, 2024 and shared memories with Sue. A line-up of faculty and the department's current and former chairs, with whom Sue worked during her tenure at the department, recognized in their remarks Sue's deep commitment to the staff, professors and lecturers, her even-keeled style and adherence to fairness, and her foresight in preparing for her succession. As she embarks on further journeys, the department wishes Sue fair winds and following seas. 



How India Could Become an Asian Tiger
The Economist features Karthik Muralidharan of Economics and his new book “Accelerating India’s Development.” Muralidharan’s book argues that a central barrier to India’s development is ineffective governance, and that “changes to personnel, data and federalism would together represent the beginnings of a reform package that could do wonders for India’s governance, and therefore its growth.”

Focus on South Asia
The South Asia Initiative is gaining a new annual forum, made possible by an endowment fund established by Jacobs School of Engineering professor Mohan Trivedi and family. “Our family has participated in and enjoyed various events organized by the South Asia Initiative,” Trivedi told UC San Diego Today. “We are delighted to offer the Gulistan South Asia Endowment Fund as a token of our deep appreciation for the UC San Diego community.” Prashant Bharadwaj of Economics and Saiba Varma of Anthropology are the co-directors of the new forum and steering committee members of the South Asia Initiative. Speaking to the forum’s significance, Varma said: “It will bring speakers of international stature to campus, support greater understanding of the South Asia region from diverse perspectives, and anchor the minor on South Asian Studies.”

 Is the Port of San Diego on the Right Track with Its New Master Plan?
James Hamilton 
of Economics is supportive of San Diego’s plan to create new parks, restaurants, hotels and shops on the waterfront. We should embrace a vision of a more economically vibrant waterfront while protecting critical natural wetlands. The plan will help bring more tourists and tax revenue to the city,” Hamilton told the San Diego Union-Tribune as part of their Econometer panel. Hamilton also contributed to the expert panels on San Diego’s $4.5 million trash study, Biden’s tax increase proposals, and whether people will continue to move out of San Diego County.

Judson Boomhower portrait with California wildfire data map graphicAdapting to Growing Wildfire Property Risk
With tens of millions of US homes now confronting a growing risk of destruction by wildfires, adaptation is an urgent policy and research challenge,” Judson Boomhower of Economics writes in a Science “Policy Forum'' piece. Featured in the magazine’s ScienceAdviser newsletter, Boomhower’s research explores how protections against wildfires can be more cost-effective and equitable. Boomhower also appears in this UC San Diego Magazine “Economies of Wildfire” story.

What Would It Take to End Extreme Poverty?
“We could end extreme poverty at a price so low that none of us would notice the difference,” said Paul Niehaus of Economics in a TEDx Boston talk about the effectiveness of giving money to people in poverty directly.

Economic Report of the President 2024
Juan Herreño of Economics was among the UC San Diego scholars whose work was cited in the 2024 Economic Report of the President. 

Vox's 2023 Future Perfect list - Paul Niehaus is changing how we think about fighting global poverty
Paul Niehaus a Professor of the Department of Economics at UC San Diego was added to Vox's 2023 Future Perfect list - of 50 "thinkers, activists, and scholars working on solutions to today’s (and tomorrow’s) biggest problems."

Honolulu Burn Unit Put to the Test by Fires on Maui
David C. Cho, an Economics alumnus of UC San Diego ’97 and an MD UC San Diego ’03, is a plastic surgeon working for the burn unit at Straub Medical Center in Honolulu who played a significant role in aiding numerous patients as a result of the Maui wildfire. 



Research Growth Tops $1.76B With Tremendous Portfolio of Discovery and Invention
Karthik Muralidharan of the Department of Economics and his team contributed to UC San Diego's ambitious research portfolio with a grant to generate evidence-based methods to improve education outcomes at scale in India.

Industrial Disasters May Cause Higher Rates of Disability and Cancer for Future Generations
The Bhopal gas tragedy in India may have had a greater area of impact than previously believed – and a much longer time horizon. A study co-authored by Prashant Bharadwaj of Economics shows effects up to 62 miles away from one of the world’s worst industrial disasters and multi-generational health impacts. The study was covered by NPRSalonForbes and others.

It Will Cost Up to $21.5 Billion to Clean Up California’s Oil Sites. The Industry Won’t Make Enough Money to Pay For It. 
According to a recent Carbon Tracker study, ProPublica reports, “the cost of cleaning up California's onshore oil and gas industry will be triple the industry’s projected profits.” While there are inherent uncertainties in estimating future oil revenues, said Judson Boomhower of Economics, the report’s estimates for environmental liabilities track with his own research. “It’s a state in the twilight of its production period, and that means big liabilities,” he said, adding that now is the time for regulators to prevent companies from off-loading their wells to “thinly capitalized firms” that cannot manage the clean-up. The investigative story was picked up by Popular Science, among many other outlets. 

Serious Business: Expanding the Talent Pool for a More Inclusive Economy
The Department of Economics and the Rady School of Management have recently formed the Business and Economics Mentoring Program, which provides students with access to academic support, peer-to-peer mentoring, research opportunities and more. The program’s goal is to expand the diversity of students in the Business Economics major that was launched in 2021. The story includes the perspectives of student mentor Andrea Lai, mentee Grace Njuguna and participating Economics faculty member Emanuel Vespa, as well as Julie Cullen, then chair of the Economics Department. 

Car Talk
The world has 1.4 billion passenger vehicles. That’s not planes or trains, buses, trucks or even motorbikes. It’s automobiles. And while today’s gas-powered cars are cleaner than they were decades ago, they still produce a tremendous amount of air pollution. Will zero-emission electric vehicles save the day? “Maybe,” says Mark Jacobsen of Economics “but we’re years away from a fully electric fleet.” In the meantime, Jacobsen is working on ways to drive the most polluting cars off the roads – equitably.

Congratulations to Sara Lowes of Economics on being selected for the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award for junior faculty. Lowes' CAREER grant will support four projects on one theme – that “insights from anthropology, culture and local context can help explain differences in development policy success across countries.”





An Update on Housing Inflation in the Consumer Price Index
The White House Council of Economic Advisors cited two papers on housing demand by Johannes Wieland of Economics.

Can $4,000 Lift a Family Out of Poverty? New San Diego County Program Aims to Find Out
A federally funded San Diego County program operated by Jewish Family Service of San Diego will give a direct cash payment of $4,000 to 2,250 low-income San Diegans and no payment to another similar group. Researchers will then study the two groups and see how their financial pictures evolve over time. Jeffrey Clemens of Economics told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he’s excited to learn of the local program as it presents a valuable learning opportunity. Pointing to Give Directly, a research and charity nonprofit co-founded by fellow UC San Diego economist Paul Niehaus, Clemens said that while the effect of cash transfers in lower-income countries has been studied and the results are promising, less is known about what happens in a higher income country like the United States. Separately, Clemens spoke with CNN and others about the possible economic fallout of the debt ceiling fight.

How the Migration of Southern Whites in the 20th Century Shaped America’s Landscape
NPR’s Michel Martin speaks to Samuel Bazzi of Economics and the School of Global Policy and Strategy about the lasting cultural and political impact of the northward movement of white Southerners in the early 20th century.

Stiff EPA Emission Limits to Boost US Electric Vehicle Sales 
Environmental economist Mark Jacobsen spoke with KPBS about the Biden administration proposing strict new automobile pollution limits that would require up to two-thirds of new vehicles sold in the U.S. to be electric by 2032, a nearly tenfold increase over current electric vehicle sales. Jacobsen said that the effects of this new proposal could greatly reduce the effects of climate change, especially if the country’s electric grid is also decarbonized. It’ll also improve the health of communities across the United States and in San Diego.”

Economic Report of the President 2023
Judson Boomhower and Valerie Ramey of Economics, as well as jointly appointed faculty Alexander Gelber, Joshua Graff Zivin and Allan Timmermann were among the UC San Diego scholars whose work was cited in the 2023 Economic Report of the President. 

Two Transformative Campus Projects Get the Green Light 
The UC Board of Regents approved two key campus projects during the March meeting: Triton Center, a new integrated central hub for student support, and Ridge Walk North Living and Learning Neighborhood, which will include a new building for the Department of Economics. Construction on both projects is anticipated to start this summer. 



Here’s How San Diego County Spent $1.4 Billion in COVID-19 Aid, and What It Could Mean for the Future
Jeffrey Clemens of Economics weighs in, in the Union-Tribune, with analysis of U.S. Treasury data on COVID-19 aid to state and local governments that he compiled and studied.

Helping the ‘Unbanked’
As California mulls entering the banking business to serve disadvantaged consumers, KPBS sought out the expertise of economist James Hamilton. "Where a public bank gets its money to lend and how transparent it is will be important," Hamilton said. "A public banking system could mask lending practices that deserve public oversight."


2 College Friends Created Energy Gum and Mints That Got The Attention of Kevin O'Leary and Robert Herjavec on 'Shark Tank.
Alumni and friends Kent Yoshimura (Cognitive Science) and Ryan Chen (Economics and Chemistry) came up with the idea of making caffeinated gum in 2013 and co-founded Neuro in 2015. In 2020, they appeared on "Shark Tank" and gained the support of two sharks that helped them grow their business, Business Insider reports. Yoshimura, 34, and Chen, 33, met at UC San Diego. There’s also a campus profile about the pair. 


America’s Other Great Migration
The Economist reports on research co-authored by economist Samuel Bazzi of the School of Global Policy and Strategy and the Department of Economics, showing how white migrants from America’s South between 1900 and 1940 turned politics rightwards in the areas where they migrated.

Are Companies More Likely to Fire Older Workers in Mass Layoffs?
A Marketplace report on whether older workers are more vulnerable during times of economic uncertainty includes research co-authored by  Gordon Dahl of Economics – a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research that looks at age-discrimination charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission between 2005 and 2015. Dahl and his co-author find that not only does the number of cases filed go up in a poor economy but also, importantly, the number of meritorious cases.

Will California Continue to See a Population Decrease? San Diego Leaders Discuss
California’s population shrank by more than half a million people during the first two years of the pandemic. Can we expect this trend to continue? As part of the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Econometer panel,  James Hamilton of Economics said: “The high cost of housing, taxes, traffic congestion, and burdens of running a business in California have been leading people and businesses to relocate to states like Texas and Florida. California could fix all these problems. But until we do, I don't expect population growth to return to its historical pace.” Hamilton was also part of the Econometer panel debating whether tipping has gotten out of control. 

Why Republican-Leaning Areas Saw a Rise in Births After Trump’s Election
A study co-authored by  Gordan Dahl of Economics suggests that increased economic optimism among Republicans motivated them to have more children relative to Democrats. “The size of the change is equivalent to changes in birth rates that occur after economic shocks or in response to policies designed to affect birth rates.” Reported by SWNS, the story was picked up by the Sacramento Bee, the Independent in the U.K, (linked above)  and  Yahoo! Finance, among other outlets. 

Brazil’s Economic Challenges Are Again Lula’s to Tackle – This Time Around They’re More Daunting
Having studied Brazil in their economic research, and having lived in the country for several years by birth or by choice,  Marc-Andreas Muendler of Economics and doctoral candidate  Carlos Góes argue in an article for The Conversation that it will not be easy for Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – now in his third term as president of Brazil – to fulfill the economic promises he made on the campaign trail. 

News Archive

Econometer: Should Businesses Pause Advertising on Twitter?, December 2022

Tackling Sexual Harassment Could Bring Sizeable Economic Dividends, December 2022

VoxDev’s Most-Read Article, December 2022

Reversing Losses in Learning After Covid, October 2022

California Team to Uncover Pandemic Impact on PreK-12 Students, October 2022

Math to Make a Difference, October 2022

Kroner Center to Strengthen and Protect Retiree Investments, October 2022

Welcome, Aram Grigoryan, October 2022

Welcome, Nir Jaimovich, October 2022

One of ‘100 Most Influential Academics in Government’, October 2022

Econ Alum Wins Heinz Award, September 2022

Remote Work Drove Over 60% of House-Price Surge, Fed Study Finds, September 2022

The 8 Economists Who Decide If the U.S. Is in a Recession, July 2022

Why Billionaires Are Donating Millions to This Nonprofit That Gives Cash to the Poor, July 2022

Did the Federal Reserve Make the Right Call Increasing Interest Rates?, June 2022

California’s Wildfire Building Codes Make Newer Homes Less Likely to Burn, April 2022

The Resilience of State and Local Government Budgets in the Pandemic, March 2022

What If TV Isn’t Bad for Us?, January 2022

Inflation Inequality, January 2022

Welcome, Juan Herreno, December 2021

Welcome, Steve Wu, December 2021

Graham Elliott elected Fellow of the Econometric Society, September 2021

Graham Elliott named the Sir Clive W. J. Granger Endowed Chair in Econometrics, July 2021

Welcome, Emanuel Vespa, November 2020

Read a collection of Tributes to Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, Mark Machina, November 2020

Welcome, Fabian Trottner, October 2020

Welcome, Denis Shishkin, September 2020

Welcome, Sara Lowes, August 2020

Welcome, Fabian Eckert, August 2020

Welcome, David Arnold, August 2020

Message from the Chair, June 2020

Valerie Ramey awarded 2020 R.K. Cho Economics Prize, May 2020

Valerie Ramey named one of Worth Magazine's 16 Powerhouse Female Economists, May 2019

Team UCSD wins the CFA Institute Local Research Challenge for the 3rd year in a row, Mar 2019

Songzi Du, Econometrica, May 2021

Sara Lowes, American Economic Review, April 2021

Isabel Trevino, Econometrica, Jan 2020

Karthik Muralidharan, American Economic Review, Apr 2019

Johannes Wieland, American Economic Review, Feb 2019

Judson Boomhower, American Economic Review, Feb 2019

Julian Betts, Public Policy Institute of California, Jan 2019

American Academy of Arts and Sciences Elects UC San Diego Chancellor and Three Professors, April 2017

Economics in Action Newsletter Archive