Rice Economics Spring 2017 Newsletter - Page 2

Meet our new department chair
Meet our new department chair
Kenneth Wolpin , Distinguished Research Professor , Lay Family Professor of Economics and Economics Department Chair
Research Interests : Labor Markets , Education and Demographic Decisions of Individuals in Dynamic Settings
Kenneth Wolpin is the Distinguished Research Professor and Lay Family Professor of Economics at Rice University as well as chair of the department . In addition to faculty appointments at Penn , NYU , Minnesota , Ohio State and Yale , he has served as the Principal Investigator of the National Longitudinal Surveys of Labor Market Experience . He has authored or co-authored over 60 professional papers . His contributions span labor economics , economic demography , development economics , health economics and empirical methodology . He is perhaps best known for his work on the development and application of tools for estimating discrete choice dynamic programming models . The methodological approach he has adopted recognizes the critical interplay between economic theory , data and econometrics .
Dr . Wolpin became chair of the Economics Department last Fall after serving briefly as the interim chair .
How did you first get interested in economics ?
This year will mark my 50th since graduating from college . The experience that drew me to economics might , with such a long passing of time , seem less relevant to today ’ s undergraduate , but I suspect not . I was a math major and did not take my first economics course until my junior year . I had already decided that pursuing post-graduate work in math was not for me ( I enjoyed it , but simply didn ’ t excel at it ). Taking the introductory course in microeconomics was a revelation . I saw immediately how I could put my mathematics skills to work in understanding real-life issues . Economics was not a default choice , but a budding passion . I remained a math major , but took a bunch more economics courses which only solidified my decision to go to graduate school in economics .
to become involved in bringing rigorous program evaluation to policy discussions at the local and state level . In short , my expectations have , if anything , been exceeded . Together with my colleague , Flavio Cunha , we have implemented evaluations , based on randomized controlled trials , to assess the impact of a food scholarship program on retention and completion rates in local colleges sponsored by the Houston Food Bank and of a center-based school-readiness program for 3-year old children and parents in a local school district . In addition , we are in discussions to evaluate the impact of a prisoner rehabilitation program , a housing program for the homeless , and an expansion of patient-care responsibilities of nursepractitioners . All of these projects present interesting intellectual challenges and have the potential to directly impact policy .
As Chair of the Economics Department , do you have any advice for undergraduate students ?
The most important advice I could give to undergraduates is to sample widely from as many disciplines as possible . Take advantage of the great liberal arts education that Rice affords . Put aside whatever predispositions you may have about your interests and talents . You may be surprised on both of these dimensions .
For more information on Professor Wolpin ’ s research projects , including his current working papers and his C . V ., see the Faculty Page on the Economics Department website .
In layman ’ s terms , tell us about your current research and the impact you hope it achieves .
I came to Rice two and a half years ago from the University of Pennsylvania along with three other Penn colleagues . During the 19 years I was on the Penn faculty , and the years before , my research , although policy-relevant , had been geared primarily to an academic audience . I moved to Rice in part because I was aware of the strong connections Rice has built within the Houston-area community and I wanted
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Meet our new department chair   Kenneth Wolpin, Distinguished Research Professor, Lay Family Professor of Economics and Economics Department Chair Research Interests: Labor Markets, Education and Demographic Decisions of Individuals in Dynamic Settings Kenneth Wolpin is the Distinguished Research Professor and Lay Family Professor of Economics at Rice University as well as chair of the department. In addition to faculty appointments at Penn, NYU, Minnesota, Ohio State and Yale, he has served as the Principal Investigator of the National Longitudinal Surveys of Labor Market Experience. He has authored or co-authored over 60 professional papers. His contributions span labor economics, economic demography, development economics, health economics and empirical methodology. He is perhaps best known for his work on the development and application of tools for estimating discrete choice dynamic programming models. The methodological approach he has adopted recognizes the critical interplay between economic theory, data and econometrics. Dr. Wolpin became chair of the Economics Department last Fall after serving briefly as the interim chair. How did you first get interested in economics? This year will mark my 50th since graduating from college. The experience that drew me to economics might, with such a long passing of time, seem less relevant to today’s undergraduate, but I suspect not. I was a math major and did not take my first economics course until my junior year. I had already decided that pursuing post-graduate work in math was not for me (I enjoyed it, but simply didn’t excel at it). Taking the introductory course in microeconomics was a revelation. I saw immediately how I could put my mathematics skills to work in understanding real-life issues. Economics was not a default choice, but a budding passion. I remained a math major, but took a bunch more economics courses which only solidified my decision to go to graduate school in economics. to become involved in bringing rigorous program evaluation to policy discussions at the local and state level. In short, my expectations have, if anything, been exceeded. Together with my colleague, Flavio Cunha, we have implemented evaluations, based on randomized controlled trials, to a ͕́ѡЁ)͍͡ɽɅɕѕѥ)ѥɅѕ́)ͽɕѡ!ѽ )ѕȵ͕͍ɕ́ɽɅ)Ȁ̵啅ȁɕɕ́)͍ɥи%ѥݔɔ)͍ͥ́ѼمՅєѡЁ)ɥͽȁɕхѥɽɅͥ)ɽɅȁѡ̰ͥ)ѥеɔɕͥѥ͔́)Ʌѥѥ̸ѡ͔ɽ́ɕ͕)ѕɕѥѕՅ́ٔ)ѡѕѥѼɕѱ䁥Ё)́ ȁѡ́ѵа)ԁٔ䁅٥)չɝɅՅєՑ)QЁхЁ٥$ձٔ)ѼչɝɅՅѕ́́Ѽͅݥ)ɽ́䁑͍́́ͥQ)مхѡɕЁɅ́Սѥ)ѡЁIɑ̸AЁͥݡѕٕ)ɕͥѥ́ԁ䁡ٔЁ)ѕɕ́х̸eԁ䁉ɥ͕)Ѡѡ̸͔ͥ)ȁɔɵѥAɽͽȁ]e)ɕ͕ɍɽ̰Ց́ɕЁݽɭ)́́ X͕ѡձAѡ)́ѵЁݕͥє)%嵅éѕɵ̰ѕ́Ё)ɕЁɕ͕ɍѡЁ)Ё̸ٕ)$ѼIݼ啅́)ɽѡUٕͥ䁽Aم)ݥѠѡɕѡȁAՕ̸ɥ)ѡ啅́$݅́ѡAձ䰁)ѡ啅́ɔɕ͕ɍѡ՝)ɕمаɕɥɥ)ѼՑ$ٕѼI)Ё͔$݅́݅ɔѡɽ)ѥ́ÍեЁݥѡѡ)!ѽɕչ䁅$݅ѕ(