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Economics Student Conference

Economics Student Conference 2019

The Economics Student Conference is held annually each spring and gives the Department of Economics a chance to showcase the excellent research students are doing in a variety of fields covered in their coursework. The conference features both undergraduate and graduate student work. Students have an opportunity to present their papers to their peers and professors.

Read student abstracts from the following sessions:

The Effects of Income Level on Library Branch Location, Usage Rates, and Technology Resources in Chicago

By Gillian Ostrowski
This paper explores the relationship between income and location of Chicago Public Libraries. It looks at branch usage (number of visitors) and circulation figures (number of books checked out or renewed) with respect to income. The analysis uses data from the Chicago Data Portal, including per capita income of communities, library locations, 2018 visitor reports, and 2018 circulation figures. Results indicate that library location is relatively indifferent to income. However, the amount of usage varies drastically when accounting for income around the branch. Branches in low-income neighborhoods receive far less visits, circulation activity, and access to CyberNavigator.

Crime in Chicago

By Michael Lansana
This paper examines the link between crime in the city of Chicago and the racial background of its diaspora. The purpose of this paper is to help shed light on and draw a link between crime and the socioeconomic conditions of the people committing them. From the gathered data, this paper shows that criminal activity mostly occurs in neighborhoods with a higher degree of economic hardships. These neighborhoods are comprised mostly of African-American and Hispano-American households. This paper does not paint the entire picture of the situation; a further reaching statewide analysis would do a much better job at digging deeper and finding the potential factors involved.

Picking Apart Parks

By Michael Mulligan
This paper attempts to explore the relationship between parks and housing prices in neighborhoods. It does this by examining crime, park services, and park sizes in relation to housing prices in those areas. The goal was to determine if and why parks change prices of housing. Although the data set used was limited, there were some interesting correlations that appeared. Those correlations were dissected in an attempt to find potential avenues through which to dive deeper into the topic discussed.

Implications of Stop and Frisk: Do neighborhood and employment matter when counting discrimination?

By Thomas Rietz
I examine the how race affects the frequency that force is used in police stops. Additionally, I seek to understand how employment affects the likelihood an individual is stopped. A regression is estimated using data from the New York Police Department from 2016. Data is individual-level and contains demographic and stop-level data. Results indicate a correlation between race and the usage of force, but did not yield a significant result.

Chicago Charter Schools

By Freddy Macedo
This paper explores the charter schools in Chicago. It gives historical background of charter schools, the demographic composition of Chicago and attempts to figure out who charter schools are targeting when they open up new schools.

Abandonment In Chicago Low-Income Housing

By Katie Esslinger
It may be anticipated that housing abandonment closely aligns with income in any area. The following study of three of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods brings new understanding. Although most high abandonment rates do occur in low income areas, not all impoverished areas have high abandonment rates. Three of the most impoverished areas in Chicago show very different rates of housing abandonment. This study found poverty is a large but not sole contributing factor to abandonment, and even the lowest income neighborhoods can equal high income neighborhoods in abandonment depending on other possible variables such as racial distribution or housing ages.

Must the Show Go On? The Economic Impact of Chicago Storefront Theatre Companies

By Delaney Spangler
I aim to measure the size and quality theatre artists may have on a community by analyzing the state of the neighborhood before and after the establishment of the theatre company. The research mainly focuses on change in neighborhood demographics, change in number of foreclosures, and change in the amount of local crime. The research features three prominent Chicago storefront theaters that opened sometime between 2000 and 2010. While it is unclear whether a neighborhood’s improvement is directly related to the establishment of a local theatre company, it can be concluded that it does not negatively impact a community.

Running ahead: The Gentrification Of Pilsen?

By Valeria Tarka
Pilsen is a neighborhood in Chicago with historical roots as a working class blue collar neighborhood. It is important to the future of this neighborhood to determine if gentrification is taking place as it may change the character of the neighborhood. To determine if Pilsen is gentrifying, I examine housing and income data. I determine that gentrification is occurring in pockets of Pilsen. The unequal gentrification present in Pilsen is due to the irregular changes in rent costs and income distribution between ethnic groups across the neighborhood.

Growth of the Bike Sharing Industry is in High Gear

By Kathleen Bommer, Peter Dinu, and Karl Perschke
The bike share industry is growing in many major US cities and disrupting ride share services and public transit. There is a race underway to capture “The Final Mile” of travel where current public transit or automotive transport cannot reach. In this emerging market, it appears that the bike share industry will continue to grow and is ripe for an industry leader. This paper examines one of the earliest movers to capture the bike share growth in the US.

Chicago Tifs and their Impact on City and Community Development

By Patrick L. Pedersen
This paper explores tax increment financing (Tifs) in Chicago through six different reports along with data from multiple sources that all relate to the varying aspects of TIFs. These articles differ in their take on Tax Increment Funding. Lester, T. (2014) suggests that there is a ‘but for’ test for cities when deciding on whether or not to implement a tax which can help the city to make an informed decision that analyzes how the much of an effect the TIF would have.

Chicago Transit and Food

By Caitlyn Watkins
Access to healthy food has been a topic explored for years resulting in experiments and government interventions. Two problems occurring in food deserts are access to transit and low income. I focus on exploring the relationship between public transportation and food. I explore food deserts and the impact on communities by looking at previous experiments. Focusing on Chicago, maps of food desert locations are explored along with neighborhood ethnicity. Data showing the locations of public transit options were collected, along with the history of the CTA. Overlapping the maps reveals a lack of transit access in areas where food deserts are present.

Gun Regulations: An Economic Standpoint

By Tam Nguyen
I look into the second amendment and how it has been adopted in modern day America. I attempt to illustrate the effects it has on our current economy paired with hard economic data. I look to pinpoint who has the most impact in the market for firearms and offer a few solutions to this debate.

The Probability of Being A Divorced Woman In 2016

By Kanisha Patel
This paper investigates the probability of being a divorced woman in 2016 using the Current Population Survey data. It determines the factors that are significant in contemporary society for a marriage’s stability. The research focuses on factors that increase independence of a women, and whether this level independence plays a role in a marriage. Taking into account research on rising levels of divorce since the 1980’s the paper focuses on income levels, child expenses, disability, education and race. The final model finds all of the variables significant in contributing to this probability.

Target’s Pregnancy Nudge: Analyzing Target’s Pregnancy Prediction Score Through the Lens of Behavioral Economics

By Matthew Brown and Armelle Otou
Technological advancement in recent years have dramatically altered the processes for acquisition, analysis, and application of data. This paper will identify and examine various components of behavioral economics in the corporate world through examination of a customer behavior data-driven strategy implemented by the retailer Target. Various biases inherent throughout the decision-making and execution processes will be identified, drawing question to the ethicality and morality of particular data acquisition and harvesting mechanisms, nudging and nudge architecture (contrasted with paternalism), and the implications of predictive analytics, data harvesting and sale, and consumer privacy and consent.

Sugar and Health

By Jessica Downey and Admira Ibisevic
The concepts of game theory are woven throughout the paper to illustrate the issues surrounding the sugar industry, how it affects consumers’ health, and the many players involved in the industry. The paper also dives into different policies that can be implemented to help all players in the sugar industry game win.

The Global Need to Improve the Waste Disposal of Single Use Plastics: Behavioral Economic Considerations

By Kristen DiPietro and Grant Sievertsen
Tremendous growth in global plastic usage has negative consequences on the environment. With plastic being so integrated in our society how can you convince the population to limit use of the material? We will tackle the issue using behavioral economic theory and consider solutions to make this change. We will be focusing on plastic bags, as efforts to curtail usage have already gained momentum in many cities.

361x The Impact: A Behavioral Economics Analysis of the Executive Pay Gap

By Judith Greenburg and Rich Mullen
Although there had been public outrage and protest against the substantial compensation of CEOs, CEO compensation has continued to increase. In this paper we examine a number of behavioral biases which contribute to the growing income of CEOs of US corporations. We find that these biases are found primarily within members of the boardroom as well as from the CEO themselves. These biases include: Ingroup Bias, Halo Effect, Confirmation Bias, Status Quo Bias, Anchoring, Loss Aversion, Present Bias, Over-Confidence Bias, and Media Bias. In conclusion, we offer potential regulatory policies that could overcome some of the biases present in the determination of CEO compensation.

Microtransaction Models and Consumer Behavior

By Alexander Kerr
Companies have been incorporating microtransactions into their payment systems to encourage more purchases at lower costs. Some businesses are quite successful in promoting these microtransaction services; however, others still lack support. Two of the most prominent industries which utilize microtransactions are journalism and video game companies. Journalism websites are quite successful because they apply behavioral economic theory well. However, video game companies have been struggling to win over their customers. They struggle to push past the negative stigma that customers have towards their strategies. If this industry used the same strategies as the journalism industry, they could see much higher purchasing rates.

The Effect of Rising Wages on Hours Worked in the Retail Industry

By Jaida Smith
I attempt to find a connection between increases in minimum wage and hours worked in the retail industry in Chicago. According to economic theory, you would expect that increases in minimum wage decrease hours worked and even employment of persons working in retail due to the higher cost of their labor. Prior studies often have conflicting results. This is likely because of differences in effects between particular groups and industries that are difficult to capture in data. My model attempts to add to this discussion by considering effects of various factors on retail employment and hours worked in Chicago.

Veterans and Non-Veterans Income Differentials Using VA Benefits

By Teddy Pitzen
In 1865, Abraham Lincoln’s Second inaugural address made a promise of change to veterans. Now his words “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan” are the motto of the VA. This organization receives billions of dollars and is meant to provide care for returning soldiers and reintegration opportunities. I attempt to identify whether veterans are on an equal income footing as non-veterans and if the benefits provided by the VA are facilitating their goal of helping to equalize this. The results are concluded through econometric controls.

Are Immigrant Women Working?

By Su Nandar
This paper examines the comparison between immigrant women and nonimmigrant women in labor force participation rates. Immigrants provide an important labor supply and it is interesting to see if immigrant women are also working. A linear probability model was used to estimate the probability of labor force participation given other independent variables. Results found that immigrant women were less likely to work than nonimmigrant women. However black, Hispanic and white immigrants were more likely to work than Asian immigrants.

The Gender Wage Gap in the U.S.: A Cohort Comparison of 40 to 49 Year Old’s in 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010

By Ashley Perling and Samantha Thornton
We examine the U.S. gender wage gap, looking at four cohorts of individuals aged 40 to 49, surveyed each decade between 1980 and 2010. Results indicate a differential decline in the gender gap of 19.83% for average weekly earnings and 19.76% for the average hourly wage. Increasing levels of women’s education and female labor supply are found to be contributing factors of the convergence. Although, different wage levels remain largely unexplained, varying occupations and levels of human capital investment are likely to be factors. As females obtain higher paying careers and males take on more childcare duties we could see a continuing convergence.

The Economic Relationship Between Excessive Alcohol Consumption and Wage & Labor Outcomes in the United States

By Saad Ahmed and Amy Obendorf
In the United States, excessive alcohol consumption causes premature death (an average of 88,000 deaths annually), increase risk of disease and injury, property damage as a result of motor vehicle-related incidents, alcohol-related crime, and a decrease in productivity. However, its economic costs are not as easily calculated. Excessive alcohol consumption can often be the result of financial stress, such as reducing discretionary spending or engaging in risky behaviors. Using data collected from numerous sources, we examine potential existing correlations between excessive alcohol consumption and wage and labor outcomes. This data takes into account variabilities that may arise between different groups based on socio-economic status, race and ethnicity, gender, and age group.

Federal Trade Commission v. Sysco Foods & US Foods Inc.

By Louise Anderson & Sofia Fernandez
This paper examines the complaint brought forward by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding the proposed merger announced by Sysco Corporation and US Foods in December 2013. The paper begins by outlining Sysco’s and US Foods’ market composition, market share, and industry dynamics. Next, the paper addresses the reasons and economic arguments behind the FTC’s antitrust complaint by analyzing the relevant market definition of the respective companies. Lastly, the paper examines the FTC’s allegations of potential post-merger anticompetitive effects, followed by Sysco’s and US Foods’ response to the FTC’s assertions.

CVS & AETNA MERGER: An Antitrust Analysis

By Patrick K. Petersen
CVS Health & Aetna announced their proposed company merger in December 2017 and the DOJ issued a preliminary approval in October. This merger closed at an amount of $69 billion. The reported benefit for consumers and the marketplace is overall lowered health care costs. We examine the CVS Aetna merger and employ antitrust frameworks to conclude if society is be better-off; or if not, identify who is better-off.

Healthcare’s e-merging horizontal conflicts and vertical strategies

By Rich Mullen, Ingrid Jansch-Porto, and Molly Sinclair
Consolidation in the healthcare industry has been ongoing for decades, but recently caught the attention of antitrust authorities because of horizontal accruals of market power. We outline the recent merger of CVS Health and Aetna to examine both its vertical and horizontal aspects. The DOJ focused on one horizontal portion resulting in particularly concerning concentrations. We summarize the DOJ action, its results, and analysis of the final vertical merger; its effect on competition, strategic strengths, and potential outcomes for the healthcare industry and consumers.

USA v. The Walt Disney Company

By Eleazar Luis Escalante & Grant Powell
We attempt to build a case for the dissolution of the Walt Disney Company by DOJ enforcers of antitrust. We will also build a case for denial of the horizontal merge of Disney and 21st Century FOX, which is passing through authoritative appeal at the time of this paper. To understand why antitrust action is needed, we will cover the company’s history, the pattern of consolidation in the media industry, and present and future implications of Sherman Act violations.

U.S. v. AT&T Inc. (2018): An Overview of the Economic Arguments

By Judith Greenberg & Rey Valdez
In November 2016, the U.S Department of Justice filed a suit against AT&T/DirecTV and Time Warner, also known as Warner Media, claiming a Section 7 violation of the Clayton Act. As the first vertical merger challenged by the Government in 40 years, this is a landmark case in antitrust law. In this paper we review the economic arguments and evidence provided by the Government and AT&T. On June 18, 2018, Judge Richard Leon ruled that the Government had failed to prove that the merger would “substantially lessen competition.” The DOJ appealed the decision, and on February 2019 the Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Leon’s judgment allowing the merger to lawfully proceed.

Food Waste Trends In The United States 1970 – 2010: Do Educated and High-Income Individuals Waste Less Food Compared to Low-Income and Less Educated Individuals?

By Armelle Otou Minkala
Previous studies show that more educated and high-income individuals are more likely to be health conscience in their diets than less educated and low-income individuals. This paper investigates whether educated and high-income individuals are less likely to produce food waste. The regression analysis reveals that the relationship between food waste and education is ambiguous and differs across gender. There is also a negative correlation between earnings and food waste for both men and women. Food waste data are drawn from EPA estimates of municipal and no municipal food waste from retail, industrial and consumer sources between 1970 and 2010. Population demographic and socioeconomic data come from the World Bank Group and Census Bureau.

Public Insurance and Impacts to Labor Outcomes and Welfare Participation

By Ana Liz Castillo Duchi
The recent expansion of state Medicaid programs in 2014, through the Affordable Care Act leads to more local and federal government spending. Evaluating the impacts of Medicaid is imperative to determine whether this public insurance gives positive incentives to people. Earlier research has measured the impacts of Medicaid on health status, and access to health care. However, there is limited, but growing research into the effects of Medicaid on labor supply, and participation in other welfare programs. Preliminary results mostly align with previous research. Overall, estimates indicate that a 10 percentage point increase in the probability of being eligible for public insurance decreases weeks worked last year by 0.3 percent.

Institutional Determinants of Foreign Direct Investment An Empirical Approach to Analyzing Institutional Factors Determining Foreign Direct Investment Inflows

By Virat Singh
This paper evaluates the impact of socio-economic institutional factors on foreign direct investment inflows, by looking at data on corruption, government effectiveness, rule of law, political stability, regulatory quality and democratic freedoms or transparency in the country. I show that better quality of regulations for private sector development, greater political stability and more democratic freedoms or transparency lead to higher FDI inflows in the country. The findings are robust across longer time periods and different estimations. Other institutional factors such as rule of law, lesser corruption and quality of public services, or government effectiveness, are insignificant in attracting FDI.

The Influence of Murals on Gentrification

By Kristen Dipietro
The process of gentrification has been well-studied. It is not clear what are the determining factors for the process to begin. Literature points to the artist as a main proponent of beginning the gentrification process. Murals have commanded attention in gentrifying neighborhoods in Chicago. Through a study of murals and issued business licenses in the zip codes 60626, 60608, and 60647, I look for a possible factor for a neighborhoods’ gentrification. Reviewing the collected data shares two stories; one that shows a positive correlation and the other that shows a negative. Public murals have been poorly documented, which leads me to an inconclusive result.

The Effects of Employment Trajectory on Displacement Cost

By Christopher Ahrens
I attempt to determine if the employment trajectory of an occupation has an effect on displacement cost. Through the use of data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation along with data from the Occupational Employment Statistics, an analysis determined that there was a statistically significant increase in displacement cost for those being laid off from occupations experiencing increasing employment trajectories. This result could imply that those being laid off from these occupations may not have the skills necessary to remain in these fields, which is in line with the asymmetric information model of layoffs.

Wrestling With Game Theory: The Game Theory Behind Wrestling’s Monday Night Wars

By Casey Hartman and Rohan Khanna
This paper looks at the strategy behind the decisions of the WWF and WCW in their battle for supremacy during the mid-nineties wrestling boom. We explore a series of games that show the tenuous balance of business strategy in a duopoly. Changing market conditions and players led to the rise of one company and the downfall of the other.

The Oakland A’s, Moneyball and Game Theory

By Sean Leahy and David Jonas
For years the Oakland Athletics found success on an uneven economic playing field in Major League Baseball. The team’s unique operating philosophy, termed Moneyball, allowed it to win with payrolls that were a small fraction of its competitors’ in major markets. We view this success through the lense of Game Theory, paying particular attention to signaling, sequential moves and competitive advantage in the talent evaluation and selection process. We finish with a look at how Oakland’s innovations inspired other small market teams and changed how every team’s front office operates.

Airplane Games

By Amy Wilson and Brittany Clinton
The Airplane industry is very complex. Over 10 million American jobs are driven by commercial aviation. To a regular consumer, it seems to be just any other activity. However, there is so much more that is part of the process. Each step of the flying process for a consumer is a game. Every game within needs to be strategically thought out for the best possible outcome. The outcome of these games are critical because the airline industry has a very high impact on the economy.

The Games Within the Game

By Chris Pelham
Baseball presents many opportunities to analyze strategic decision making and game theory in a professional sport. This paper recounts specific situations, including a baserunner attempting to steal second, batters deciding whether or not to swing on a three ball, no strike pitch, and the strategy behind making the correct pitching change. I will use these examples to show game theory and its applications in baseball.

Factors Influencing “L” Ridership in Chicago

By Zac Pacanowski
This paper analyzes factors determining monthly ridership at each L station in the City of Chicago using monthly ridership totals for all stations from January 2001 – September 2018. Seasonality is a strong determinant in ridership, with the mildest months having the greatest positive impact and coldest months having a negative impact. Increased average gas prices in Chicago are predictive of higher ridership. Higher annual Chicago Transit Authority budgets lead to higher monthly ridership. Higher fares lead to lower ridership. Bus ridership acts as a substitute for L ridership, with higher monthly bus totals leading to lower monthly L totals.

The Impact Of Renewable Energy On Economic Performance: An Econometric Approach

By Kate Mather
Mass energy consumption is credited with the widespread diffusion of technologies that irrefutably increased quality of life. However, there are environmental costs associated with current global energy consumption. One way to reduce these costs are to include a larger share of renewable energy into the global energy mixture. Recently, renewable energy has become economically competitive. Some critics of alternative energy express concern that initial cost of renewable energy infrastructure will harm economic performance. This paper examines whether the share of renewable energy impacts the overall gross domestic product of a country through a two-way random-effects panel regression with instrumental variables.

Prediction Of The Annual Revenue Range Of Airbnb Hosts In Chicago

By Ozgur Karacaoglu
The sharing economy has recently expanded into the accommodation sector because of the opportunity to provide additional income for hosts and the low costs for renters. Currently, Airbnb is the leading online platform in this sector. I estimate the annual revenue range of the Airbnb hosts, taking into account the determinants of Airbnb accommodation prices and the estimated occupancy nights per year. I introduce the neighborhood parameter as a new price determinant in the context of Chicago. I find that room type has the most significant effect on average revenue of Airbnb hosts, followed by neighborhood, number of bedrooms, and number of guests the listing accommodates.

The Steroid Era and MLB Attendance per Game

By Matthew Gagen
Baseball is frequently referred to as “America’s Pastime” and millions of Americans go to the ballpark and watch the games on T.V. each year. Major League Baseball (MLB) is the governing body for the game at the professional level. Despite its popularity, professional baseball experienced problems, specifically with steroids. Baseball’s steroid era involved many players using steroids to enhance their power, particularly to hit homeruns. There is some evidence to suggest that this caused more people to attend MLB games. This paper’s purpose is to see if steroid did have a positive significant on a game’s attendance.

Estimating Wage Differentials in STEM Occupations

By Minority Status by Kay Lindburg
I estimate the gender and racial wage gaps in STEM occupations using the 2010-2011 American Community Survey. I find that gender and racial wage gaps persist in STEM occupations. Hispanics receive the highest wage increase from being employed in a STEM. Hispanic women earn the lowest relative wages overall and have the lowest wage increase from being employed in STEM occupations. STEM careers increase earnings for all minority groups but only marginally increase wages and do not allow minority groups to receive the same wages as white men, on average, all else constant.

Read the Economics Student Conference 2018 Abstracts