Professor Leeds on his research with students

Doing research with students

One of my great concerns when I became department chair was how to balance the research I enjoy doing with the administrative demands of my new position.   One way I have managed to keep up my research is by relying on undergraduate research assistants.  In several cases, these students have contributed so much that they have become full-fledged co-authors.

I have found that involving students in my research has not only provided assistance with data collection and analysis, it has forced me to keep to a schedule in guiding my students.  It has also enabled me to engage in informal teaching, introducing the students to theoretical and empirical techniques that will help them with our research and, I hope with their own future work.

I am no stranger to working with students.  In the late 1990s, I faced similar time constraints as Director of the Honors Program in the Fox School of Business.  Fortunately, my work there brought me into contact with several gifted undergraduates as well as several graduate students who worked for me as graduate assistants.  My joint work began in 1999, when Sandra Kowalewski, [3] then a Ph.D. student in Economics and I published the first of two papers dealing with the impact of free agency on the distribution of salaries in the National Football League.

Soon after, I worked on two papers with undergraduate Honors students.  The first, with Yelena Suris and Jennifer Durkin [6] asked whether big-time football programs helped or hurt women’s sports at those schools. The second, with Irina Pistolet, [4] also marked my first collaboration with my wife, Eva Marikova Leeds, an economist at Moravian College.  It considered the value of naming rights to the businesses that purchase them.

This has led to numerous collaborations with students.  Some have been a part of my own research.  [5, 7, 8, 9] Others have grown out of my advising students who were awarded undergraduate research grants.  [2, 10]

The most recent example is a paper that Eva and I wrote with Lauren Banko, [1] then a student in Temple’s graduate program.  It tests whether women respond worse to setbacks than men do.  The experimental literature has found that women get discouraged more easily than men.  Using non-experimental data from the men’s and women’s tennis tour, we found mixed evidence of a gender difference.

Now that I am chair, I have multiple projects underway with students.  The first grew out of a Summer Honors Research Grant to Ngoc Tram (“Amy”) Nguyen Pham. [10] We spent the summer of 2017 extending a forthcoming paper that I wrote with Eva and Aaron Harris (a student of Eva’s at Moravian College) on the determinants of pay of football coaches at schools in Power Five conferences, schools like Michigan and Clemson, which compete at the highest, most lucrative level.  That paper found that much of the coaches’ pay came from “fixed revenue” sources, such as broadcast rights, which have nothing to do with a given coach’s performance.

Amy and I have extended this work to coaches in the less-well-off Group of Five conferences.  We find that a coach’s performance has a strong influence on his pay but has almost no impact on a school’s revenue. Because successful coaches are much more likely to move on to Power Five schools, we conclude that performance affects salaries by increasing a coach’s bargaining power, not his marginal revenue product.  Amy will present this paper at the 2018 Eastern Economic Association meetings in Boston.

I have recently begun to work on two additional, non-sports topics with undergraduates.  The first, with Han Hong Gia (“Julie”) Pham, uses differences-in-differences techniques to ask whether recent restrictions on women’s health programs in Texas have worsened women’s health outcomes there relative to the rest of the nation. We expect to present this paper at the 2018 Western Economic Association meetings in Vancouver.

The second paper, on which I have just begun working with Jason Chen, is based on the work of Guillaume Vandenbroucke.  Vandenbroucke finds that the declaration of war in 1914 led to a large reduction in the French birth rate nine months later.  He concludes that the birth rate declined because war represented a diminution of expected lifetime earnings.  We will use similar techniques to test whether the fall of Communist regimes in Hungary and Poland in the late 1980s led to an increase in birth rates due to the expected increase in future earnings and utility.


Publications with Students*

[1] Banko, Lauren, Eva Marikova Leeds, and Michael A. Leeds. 2016. Gender Differences in Response to Setbacks: Evidence from Professional Tennis, Social Science Quarterly, 97(2) June: 161-176.

[2] Garrett, Amelia and Michael A. Leeds. 2015. The Economics of Community Gardens. Eastern Economic Journal. 41(2), Spring: 200-213.

[3] Kowalewski, Sandra and Michael A. Leeds. 1999. Free Agency, Salary Caps, and the Distribution of Income in the National Football League. In Current Research in the Economics of Sports, Lawrence Hadley and Elizabeth Gustafson, editors, Westport, CT: Praeger.

[4] Leeds, Eva Marikova, Michael A. Leeds, and Irina Pistolet. 2007. A Stadium by Any Other Name: The Value of Naming Rights. Journal of Sports Economics, 8(6), December: 581-595.

[5] Leeds, Michael A. and Sandra Kowaleski. 2001. Winner-Take-All in the NFL: The Impact of Free Agency and the Salary Cap on Skill Position Players. Journal of Sports Economics, 2(3), August: 244-256.

[6] Leeds, Michael A., Yelena Suris, and Jennifer Durkin. 2004. The Impact of Big-time Football Programs on the Status of Women’s Athletics.  In The Economics of Collegiate Sports, John Fizel and Rodney Fort, editors Westport, CT: Praeger: 213-226.

[7] Leeds, Michael. A. and Elizabeth Wheaton. 2003. The Youth Labor Market in the 1990s. In The School to Work Movement: Origins and Destinations, William J. Stull and Nicholas Sanders, editors, Westport, CT: Praeger: 37-48.

[8] Leeds, Michael A. and Barbara Erin McCormick. 2006. In John Fizel, editor, Handbook of Sports Economics Research, “Econometric Issues in Sports Economics.” Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe: 221-236.

[9] Leeds, Michael A., Cristen Miller, and Judith Stull. 2007. Interscholastic Athletics and Investment in Human Capital. Social Science Quarterly, 88(3), September: 729-744.

[10] Nguyen Pham, Ngoc Tram and Michael A. Leeds. 2018. Movin’ on Up? Determinants of Pay of Mid-Major College Football Coaches. Unpublished Manuscript.


*This includes only coauthors who were Temple undergraduates or graduate students at the time the paper was completed.

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Recent research by Professor Blackstone

Professor Blackstone describes some of his recent research below.

I have been working for some time and currently on the pharmaceutical industry. I (along with Joseph P. Fuhr Jr) published an article “The Economics of Biosimilars” in American Health and Drug Benefits in 2013. We (Joseph P. Fuhr Jr. and I) also published an article on biosimilars, which are highly similar to the original biologics, in Scited Lawyer  in 2015. We wrote a chapter in a book “Biosimilars and Biologies: The Prospects for Competitors,” in  Biosimilar Drug Product Development edited by Lasxio Endrenyi, et al. published by CRC Press, Part of Taylor and Francis Group, in early 2017.

I (along with Joseph P. Fuhr Jr and Steve Posai) wrote a 2014 article, “The Health and Economic Effects of Counterfeit Drugs” in American Health and Drug Benefits, and with Joseph P. Fuhr Jr., I wrote an article, “The Economics of Medicare Accountable Care Organizations” in American Health and Drug Benefits which was published in 2016.

Biologics are the new drugs that are produced in living organisms and cost in excess of a billion dollars to develop. Until passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 which included the Biologic Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009,  no expedited pathway existed for biosimilars, which are generic-like drugs. Our work examines the issues of encouraging both innovation and subsequent competition in the case of those new and especially costly drugs.

In terms of counterfeit drugs, our research focuses on their health consequences and economic impacts. Purchasing a fake purse or pocketbook does not threaten health. When patients take drugs that are fake, they may not recover or may even succumb to their illness.

Given the high cost of healthcare, critics often claim that fee-in-service encourages quantity of care. Our research focuses on new payment systems called Accountable Care Organizations where Medicare provides incentives and sometimes penalties for not meeting quality and cost guidelines.

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Recent research by Professors Hakim and Blackstone

In this inaugural post in the Economics Department’s showcase website, we present recent work by Professors Erwin Blackstone and Simon Hakim as submitted in summarized form by Professor Hakim.

Analyzing public prison costs vs. private prison prices. A refereed report published by the Independent Institute.

Considerable debate continues among state officials, criminal justice experts, and the media about whether contract prisons provide sufficient savings and perform adequately to justify their use. This Independent Policy Report is designed to examine the evidence using publicly available state corrections cost data as the primary source. A major finding from the cost analysis and information obtained from state leaders and stakeholders is that competition yields savings and better performance across the prison industry. The economics of industrial organization demonstrates the important benefits derived from the presence of even a small competitor in an otherwise monopolistic market. In this case, even though private contractors comprise less than 7 percent of the industry, they have generated substantial competitive benefits.

Using economic theory of public goods that suggests local governments to allow competition in police response to false burglar alarms calls.

(This paper will be submitted soon for publication.  However, our work has encouraged several local governments to change their burglar alarm ordinances.)

Burglar alarms are the most effective single deterring or preventive measure to burglars. Alarms provide social net benefits to the community. Ninety-four to 99 percent of police responses are to false alarms, raising a public policy issue. Solving the false alarm problem could add the equivalent of 35,000 US police officers. Police provide a private good when responding to false activation, while providing a public good in 1 to 6 percent of the responses when an actual or attempted burglary occurs. The false alarm problem also occurs in fire and ambulance services. The paper analyzes an alternative to initial police response called Verified Response (VR), typically provided in a competitive market setting by private security personnel. Police respond only after burglary verification. An in depth study of Salt Lake City, Utah is conducted to evaluate the program. We calculated gains and losses of the players. VR reduced response time to all emergency calls, enhancing the public good nature of police. In spite of significant net social savings, the program has not been widely adopted. Two small groups with high individual monetary stake have prevented VR dissemination. The much larger group with low individual monetary loss remain apathetic.

Competition versus Monopoly in the Provision of Police. Paper published in Security Journal.

We were interviewed on it on Public Radio the Freakonomics and Marketplace Programs. See:  and , and

This article discusses the changing landscape of US crime, and both describes and evaluates the growth of private security in total security provided. Since the mid-1970s violent and basic property crimes have constantly declined while the number of economic crimes like identity theft, counterfeit goods and cyber misdeeds increased substantially. Monopolistic police have not addressed the changing landscape of crime and continue to deliver their traditional services. As market forces have limited influence on government, private security that is highly competitive and client oriented has been quicker to adopt technology and management innovations and address the new types of crime. Private police are estimated to be three times larger than public law enforcement. The article concludes that the increased penetration of private security is socially beneficial by improving efficiency, delivering client-oriented services and forcing police to improve their performance.

A regional, market oriented governance for disaster management: A new planning approach (with Brian Meehan).

See, Evaluation and Program Planning, Vol. 64, Oct. 2017:57-68.

This paper proposes a regional competitive governance and management of response and recovery from disasters. It presents problems experienced in major disasters, analyzes the failures, and suggests how a competitive system that relies on private and volunteer regional leaders, personnel, and capital can improve preparation, response and recovery efforts over the existing government system. A Public Choice approach is adopted to explain why government often fails, and how regional governance may be socially more efficient than the existing federal- state-local funded and managed disaster system. The paper suggests that the federal role might change from both funding and supplying aid in disasters to merely funding disaster recovery efforts. When a disaster occurs, available businesses and government resources in the region can be utilized under a competitive system. These resources could replace existing federal and state inventories and emergency personnel. An independent regionally controlled and managed council, which also develops its own financial resources, and local volunteer leaders are key for success. The paper suggests a new planning method that utilizes the statistical Factor Analysis methodology to derive an efficient organizational and functional model to confront disasters.

Securing Transportation Systems (with Albert and Shiftan). John Wiley and Sons.

This book reviews the security weaknesses and evaluates improvement of the various forms of transportation systems including mass transit, water ports, tunnels, bridges, airports, and pipelines. The book suggests why government should not carry the major responsibilities of securing transportation systems. The book discusses how to shed non-public responsibilities and contract out public services to private entities in order to improve future security challenges including cyber, radiological and physical threats.

“Privatization and subsidization of adoption services from foster care: Empirical evidence” (with Deutsch, Spiegel and Sumkin).

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 78, July 2017: 9-17.

This paper analyses empirical differences in adoption services of public and private agencies. The empirical investigation includes cross-sectional time series aggregated data for the 50 US States from 1996 to 2010 with detailed statistical analysis of the period 2000 through 2010 for which consistent and comprehensive data exists. Under private agencies only 11.6 months have elapse from the time the courts terminate the natural parents’ custody until the child is adopted while with public agencies, the same process lasts for 16 months. Furthermore, during the decade from 1996 to 2006 private agencies completed more adoptions than public agencies. However, the performance gap in favor of private agencies was eliminated in 2006 and in the forthcoming years. The results suggest that privatization of young and healthy children did not show advantage for private services. However, contracting out adoption services to private agencies of older children or children with complex special needs, improves the process of adoption compared with the performance of public agencies. Subsidization improves the adoption especially of older children and of all children with special needs while it appears to be statistically insignificant or implied unnecessary for healthy babies.




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