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Newsletter #1
March 2021

Message from the Head

Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Economics in the Desert newsletter of the Department of Economics in the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona! We plan to have three issues per year, providing insights on our exciting events and activities. During 2020, we hunkered down due to the pandemic and yet continued to educate, conferred many degrees, conducted research and more. Read about our activities below! I hope you will enjoy it. Go Wildcats and Bear Down!


Professor Martin Dufwenberg and PhD students Shuya He and Dr. Senran Lin (who had just defended!) break-in our new COVID-appropriate whiteboard for the balcony.

What’s Up, Andreas? 

We are grateful to McClelland Professor of Economics Andreas Blume for his service as our department head from 2015 until July 2020, and curious to see what he comes up with next, as he now is looking to increase his research activity. In this video clip, Andreas discusses his research on strategic information transmission and why miscommunication occurs.

The Economics of Face Masks 

What is the best public health policy in a pandemic? To answer that question, you need to combine expertise from medicine and economics. Let us illustrate this with reference to a recent op-ed that Martin Dufwenberg coauthored with a mixture of economists (including Martin’s PhD adviser Jörgen Weibull and Nobel Laureate Bengt Holmström), biologists and scholars from medicine. Until recently, the Swedish public health authority downplayed the utility of face masks and recommended against their use. For example, they argued that masks may hurt “social equality.” Martin and his coauthors take issue with this position, making reference to incentives and externalities and behavioral game theory, besides medical data. To read more, check out two links—the original op-ed and an English translation.

What Does Economics Have to Say About Discrimination? 

Discrimination has been at the forefront of political, social and economic discourse over the past year. Professor Gautam Gowrisankaran and Assistant Professor Ashley Langer have recently guided an initiative to consider the role that the economics department should play in addressing discrimination. As part of this initiative, the department adopted a discrimination statement, created a new course on economic analyses of discrimination and created a departmental reading group in Fall 2020 to understand what the economics profession knows about discrimination and how to move forward. The reading group was a great success with substantial contributions from both faculty and graduate students. Ashley and Gautam presented the findings from this reading group to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office on January 21, 2021. The presentation covered both the economic literature on discrimination and contributed to the conversation on how the economics profession can become more diverse. 

Gautam Gowrisankaran Professor of Economics
Ashley Langer Assistant Professor of Economics

Celebrating Students

Despite the hardships brought upon us all by the COVID-19 pandemic, 57 students graduated in the fall—47 BA (Economics) and 10 BSBA (Economics)

Our outstanding seniors that graduated in the fall were:
  • Jason Earl, ’20 BA (Economics)
  • Ryan Jarkowski, ’20 BSBA (Economics)
Our scholarship recipients recognized for their excellent academic achievements are:

 Benefits Undergraduate Scholarship Frances Slater ’22
 Leonard G. Bower Economics Scholarship Nathan Rix ’21
 George Gregson Scholarship Nathaniel McAdoo ’22
 Philip G. Hudson Scholarship Elizabeth Merchant ’22

The Gerald Swanson Endowed Scholarship-Undergraduate Excellence Recipients are:
  • Faith Ferganchick ’21
  • Chava Kornfeld ’21
  • Rion Melton '21
  • Joshua Sone '22
  • Royce Viklund '22

Master’s in Economics


Asaf Plan Assistant Professor of Economics Director, Master's Program
Our master's program is now in its third year and growing nicely. We are proud to have placed students from our first graduating cohort into PhD programs at the University of Rochester and here at the University of Arizona. We recently changed the name of the degree, from “Master’s of Econometrics and Quantitative Economics” to "Master’s in Economics." The new name is meant to be clearer and reflect broader ambitions. We plan to add electives that focus on behavioral and experimental economics next year.

Publications 

Our faculty regularly publish many exciting articles in many different subfields of economics, many of which can be found on their respective directory pages. From time to time we may call attention to particular articles here. This time, let us talk about some recent “top-fives.” As you may know, five economics journals stand out as the most prestigious—American Economic Review, Econometrica, Journal of Political Economy, Quarterly Journal of Economics and Review of Economic Studies. Over the years we have had many articles published in the “top-five,” including these recent articles:

  • Amanda Friedenberg (2019), “Bargaining Under Strategic Uncertainty: The Role of Second-Order Optimism,” Econometrica.
  • Christina Dalton, Gautam Gowrisankaran and Robert Town (2020). “Salience, Myopia and Complex Dynamic Incentives: Evidence from Medicare Part D.” Review of Economic Studies.
  • Wesley Blundell ’17 PhD, Ashley Langer and Gautam Gowrisankaran (2020), “Escalation of Scrutiny: The Gains from Dynamic Enforcement of Environmental Regulations,” American Economic Review

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