News & Announcements

Work by Professor Aizer cited in recent New York Times article "Supply Side Economics, but for Liberals"

April 19, 2017

Work by Professor Anna Aizer was cited in an article in the New York Times published on April 15, 2017. In his article, "Supply Side Economics, but for Liberals," Neil Irwin argues that certain social welfare programs "may actually encourage more people to work and enable them to do so more productively." He cites work by Aizer and co-authors estimating the long term impact of welfare receipt in childhood on educational attainment, income in adulthood and mortality.

Knight and former student Durante win 2017 Best Paper prize from American Economic Journal

April 17, 2017

An article by Professor Brian Knight, former Ph.D. student Ruben Durante (now at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona), and two co-authors was awarded the 2017 Best Paper prize by the American Economics Journal -- Applied Economics.

In their article titled "Market-Based Loobbying: Evidence From Advertising  Spending in Italy," authors Stefano DellaVigna, Ruben Durante, Brian Knight, and Eliana La Ferrara study how firms in Italy changed their advertising spending when media mogul Silvio Berlusconi was in power. They estimate that Berlusconi's private television network, Mediaset, saw a significant boost in advertising spending from firms between 1993-2009, especially from companies in more regulated sectors.

U. of Chicago’s Kerwin Charles to present Bernard Fain Lecture on Labor Markets and Racial Earnings Inequality

April 17, 2017

Kerwin Charles, interim Dean and Bergman Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy will present this year's Bernard I. Fain Lecture. The title of Charles' talk is: Labor Markets, Public Policy and Racial Earnings Inequality in the U.S. The talk will take place on Tuesday, April 18 at 4:00 p.m. in Salomon 001 and is directed at the entire university community.

For more than three decades, Brown's Department of Economics has presented the annual Bernard I. Fain Lecture thanks to the generosity of the family and friends of the late Bernard Fain, a 1952 graduate of Brown University and a member of the Providence business community. A series of distinguished speakers have addressed matters of economic and social interest to the general public through these talks. Prof. Charles earned his doctorate at Cornell University and joined the University of Chicago in 2005. His research focuses on a range of questions in labor and applied microeconomics, including racial and gender discrimination in the labor market, intergenerational propagation of wealth and earnings within families, how adverse health shocks affect family stability and labor supply, and differences in consumption across racial and ethnic groups.

We remember our colleague Martin Beckmann, Professor Emeritus, dead at age 92

April 14, 2017

Martin J. Beckmann, who taught at Brown from 1959 until his retirement in 1989, passed away last weekend. Born in 1924 in Ratingen, Germany, he earned his doctorate at the University of Freiburg in 1950. After serving as Research Associate and Assistant Professor of Economics at Yale from 1951 to 1959, he joined Brown’s Department of Economics as an Associate Professor in that year, becoming full Professor in 1961. During 1962 – 69, he was simultaneously Professor of Econometrics, Operations Research and Economics at the University of Bonn, and from 1969, he held a simultaneous appointment as Professor of Applied Mathematics at the Technical University in Munich, Germany. Beckmann retained a residence in Providence and frequently worked at the University libraries, continuing to publish manuscripts for many years after becoming Professor Emeritus at Brown.

Beckmann described his own research in A Biographical Dictionary of Major Economists edited by Mark Blaug by saying that his early work focused on competitive spatial market equilibrium and on the efficient utilization of transportation facilities. His interests then shifted to sequential decision-making as exemplified by inventory and production control, and to the economic insights from dynamic programming. Then, influenced by Jacob Marschak, he was motivated to study the economics of organizations, especially economic functions of supervision and rank. He maintained an interest in economics of transportation, location theory, regional science, and urban economics. “Perhaps my best known contribution” he stated, was “a simple model explaining the quantitative relationships in a central place hierarchy and the distribution of city sizes.”

Two former colleagues and emeritus professors sent remarks on hearing of Beckmann’s passing. “When I came to Brown in 1971,” wrote Allan Feldman, “Martin was one of the best known researchers in the department. … He taught a popular urban economics course at Brown. In that course, once per semester, he led his students on a long hike in the city of Providence, discussing things like rent gradients, location theory, manufacturing, retail sales, and so on. He and his wife Gloria were friendly and sociable, and fine parents to four children.” At the end of long departmental seminars, “Martin would raise his hand and make a brilliant and insightful comment … something that the speaker could use to significantly improve his paper.”

Another, Vernon Henderson, remarked that he had studied Beckmann’s text on location theory as a graduate student. It “was the only one of its kind.” In the economics profession nationally and internationally, Beckmann was one of the most respected economists at Brown for many years. He was also known for his love of travel, would be off to locations around the world regularly, and was known for his joy of life and love of good stories.

The entry on Martin Beckman in Mark Blaug’s Who’s Who in Economics can be viewed here.

A list of Beckman’s research and publications can be viewed here.

New Galor-Klemp paper on authoritarianism cited in NY Times Op Ed "In Search of a Good Emperor"

April 5, 2017

In an Op Ed in the New York Times on April 5, Ross Douthat cites the new working paper by Oded Galor and Marc Klemp, "Roots of Autocracy," when pointing out that more heterogenous populations have often been associated in history with more authoritarian rulers. Douthat cites the paper while making a connection to racial and ethnic divisions in the contemporary United States and the election of Donald Trump as President. He suggests that ethnic and racial diversity can be manipulated by authoritarian rulers for their own advancement, but that there are also historical models of "good emporers" who wisely offer each segment of a diverse polity's population its rightful voice and protections.

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