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Working Paper: Estimating Impact With Surveys Versus Digital Traces: Evidence From Randomized Cash Transfers in Togo (Dean Karlan, Christopher Udry, Emily Aiken, Suzanne Bellue, and Joshua Blumenstock)

February 14, 2024 – from IPR
Do non-traditional digital trace data and traditional survey data yield similar estimates of the impact of a cash transfer program? In a randomized controlled trial of Togo’s COVID-19 Novissi program, endline survey data indicate positive treatment effects on beneficiary food security, mental health, and self-perceived economic status. However, impact estimates based on mobile phone data – processed with machine learning to predict beneficiary welfare – do not yield similar results, even though related data and methods do accurately predict wealth and consumption in prior cross-sectional analysis in Togo. This limitation likely arises from the underlying difficulty of using mobile phone data to predict short-term changes in well-being within a rural population with fairly homogeneous baseline levels of poverty. The researchers discuss the implications of these results for using new digit

Working Paper: Women and the Econometrics of Family Trees ( Joseph Ferrie, José-Antonio Espín-Sánchez, and Christopher Vickers)

February 14, 2024 – from IPR
The researchers present an econometric structure for the analysis of intergenerational mobility that integrates non-linearities, the role of maternal-side effects and the impact of grandparents. They show how previously estimated models are special cases of this general framework and what specific assumptions each embeds. Their analysis of linked U. S. data 1900–40 reveals the extent to which inadequate consideration of assortative mating and the impact of mothers produces misleading conclusions.

Working Paper: Immigration Enforcement and Public Safety (Elisa Jácome, Felipe M. Gonçalves, and Emily K. Weisburst)

February 8, 2024 – from NBER
How does immigration enforcement affect public safety? Heightened enforcement could reduce crime by deterring and incapacitating immigrant offenders or, alternatively, increase crime by discouraging victims from reporting offenses. We study the U.S. Secure Communities program, which expanded interior enforcement against unauthorized immigrants. Using national survey data, we find that the program reduced the likelihood that Hispanic victims reported crimes to police and increased the victimization of Hispanics. Total reported crimes are unchanged, masking these opposing effects. We provide evidence that reduced Hispanic reporting is the key driver of increased victimization. Our findings underscore the importance of trust in institutions as a central determinant of public safety.



Faculty Spotlight: Elisa Jácome

December 4, 2023 – from Northwestern University IPR
IPR economist Elisa Jacome studies public policy issues centered on immigration, crime, and mental health

League One Volleyball, co-founded by NU Economics alum Katlyn Gao '01, raised a $35M Series B, bringing the league’s total funding to nearly $60M to date.

December 4, 2023 – from NPR
Investors include Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum, and Billie Jean King. It's the latest sign of growing momentum and interest in women's professional sports, particularly volleyball. Two months ago, more than 92,000 people watched the University of Nebraska women's volleyball team play at the school's football stadium — setting a world record for attendance at a women's sporting event.


Mar Reguant discusses renewable energy in low- and middle-income countries on VoxDevTalks.

November 29, 2023 – from VoxDev
The price of renewables has fallen much faster than other sources of energy, making it a more accessible option for governments in low- and middle-income countries. In this episode of VoxDevTalks, Mar Reguant and John Van Reenen discuss how renewable power provides a unique opportunity to decarbonise electricity generation, and how policy can speed up the green transition.


Joel Mokyr, 2023 Miller Upton Scholar, honored at Beloit College

October 17, 2023 – from Beloit College
The Miller Upton Forum seeks to deepen students’ understanding of the wealth and well-being of nations through intimate interactions with preeminent thinkers. The Miller Upton Scholar is a public intellectual whose distinguished work and influential ideas become the driving force of the annual forum.

Remembering the Life of Edie Eisner

October 11, 2023
The Department of Economics is saddened to share the news that Edith “Edie” Eisner has recently passed away. Eisner, the wife of longtime Economics faculty member Robert Eisner, was a teacher at the Roycemore School in Evanston, IL where she was later named a Life Trustee and Honorary Alumna. In 2020, a scholarship in the name of her late husband, Robert Eisner, was established at Roycemore. Edie and Robert met when she was a student at Duke University and he was attending basic training in the US Army. They were married in 1946, following Robert’s discharge from the military after his service in WWII. A constant supporter of education at both Roycemore and Northwestern, Mrs. Eisner impacted many in her almost 100 years of life. The Department of Economics sends our condolences to Edie’s family and loved ones during this difficult time.


Dean Karlan discusses his work as USAID's chief economist in Vox

September 19, 2023 – from Vox
USAID relies heavily on a small number of well-connected contractors to deliver most aid, while other groups are often deterred from even applying by the process’s complexity. Use of rigorous evaluation methods like randomized controlled trials — where development programs are tested on a random subset of the target population to see if they work — are the exception, not the norm. One of the agency’s current leaders tasked with changing this status quo is its chief economist, Dean Karlan. His appointment was perceived as a major victory for people in and around USAID who want its programs to rely more on rigorous evidence.

Kiminori Matsuyama article published in Annual Review of Economics: "Non-CES Aggregators: A Guided Tour"

September 1, 2023 – from Annual Review of Economics
The constant-elasticity-of-substitution (CES) aggregator and its demand system are ubiquitous in business cycles theory, macroeconomic growth and development, international trade and other general equilibrium fields; this is because the CES aggregator has many knife-edge properties that help to keep the analysis tractable in the presence of many goods and factors. However, this also makes it hard to tell which properties of CES are responsible for certain results. Furthermore, it is necessary to relax some of those properties for certain applications. In this article, I review several classes of non-CES aggregators, each of which removes some properties of CES and keeps the rest to introduce some flexibility while retaining the tractability of CES as much as possible. These classes are named after the properties of CES they keep. I explain how these classes are related to each other and

Economics Undergraduate Alum J. Landis Martin Remembered

September 1, 2023 – from Northwestern University
J. Landis “Lanny” Martin ’68, ’73 J.D. (’02, ’07, ’08 P), Northwestern alumnus, life trustee, former chair of the Board of Trustees and one of the University’s most generous benefactors, died today, Sept. 1. He was 77 years old.