Economics Department Awards Luncheon 2019

On May 1st, 2019, the Department of Economics held their annual Awards Luncheon at the Estia Restaurant in Center City Philadelphia.

The ceremony opened with a short address from Department Chair, Professor Leeds.

The first award presented was the Student Professional Development Award to William Strahan.

The economics society was then acknowledged for their accomplishments. The members specifically recognized were Vincent DiMichele, Benjamin Ginsberg, Erica Hall, Veronika Konovalova, and Benjamin Salzer.

The Undergraduate Program Awards had many students being recognized.

CLA Distinction in Major Students: Mosammath Anjum, Kristopher Blazeski, Joshua Chen, Sean Dix, Steven Doncaster, Julia Flanagan, Geneva Heffernan, James Jackson, Evan Martin, Megan Maxwell, Frashiah Mwangi, Rebecca Neergaard, Benjamin Salzer, Nicholas Tarpey, Matthew Tkacik, and Caroline Lewis.

The Phi Beta Kappa Nominees included Alex Mark, Michael T. McMahon, Jacob Stoltzfus, and Collin Wardius.

The Student with the highest GPA as a Fox School Economics Major was Patrick Gleason.

The winner of The Norman and Ruth Sun Award in Writing was Steven Hamilton. The Honorable Mentions for this award were Evan Martin, Megan Maxwell, and Marie Shorokey.

The recipients of The Norman and Ruth Sun Memorial Award were Julia Flanagan from the College of Liberal Arts and Elinor Dittes from the Fox School.

The First Graduate Program Award announced was the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, received by Luke Mafrica.

Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student was received by Xiyue Cao.

The Third Year Ph.D. Student Writing Award was received by Thanh Lu for, “Medical  Marijuana and Household Spending: Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey.” Advisor: Dr. J. Catherine Maclean.

Five students were recognized for successfully defending their doctoral dissertations:

Weige Huang for, “Essays on Microeconometrics and Finance.” Advisor: Dr. Brantly Callaway

Melissa Oney for, “Three Essays in Health Economics.” Advisor: Dr. J. Catherine Maclean

Joseph Shinn for, “Three Essays of Labor, Health and Real Estate Economics.” Advisor: Dr. Michael Bognanno

Keisha Solomon for, “Three Essays on Health Economics.” Advisor: Dr. J. Catherine Maclean

Lulei Song for, “Three Essays on Macroeconomics and Banking.” Advisor: Dr. Pedro Silos

There were four faculty awards presented.

Outstanding Teaching by an Adjunct Professor was received by Dr. Joseph Shinn.

Outstanding Graduate Teaching by a Full-time Faculty Member was received by Professor Pedro Silos.

Outstanding Service by a Faculty Member was received by Professor Dimitrios Diamantaras

Outstanding Research Paper by a Faculty Member was received by Professor Dai Zusai.

Photos from the event can be seen here:

Text and photos by Kaitlin Flynn, edited by Dimitrios Diamantaras

Ph.D. Alumna Elizabeth Wheaton publishes a textbook and receives a teaching prize

Dr. Elizabeth Wheaton holding a copy of her textbook in the exhibits hall of the 2019 ASSA annual meetings.

Dr. Elizabeth (Beth) Wheaton, 2006 Ph.D. alumna, currently CEO at Equip the Saints and Economics Senior Lecturer at Southern Methodist University, celebrated two important achievements in this academic year. She had her book Economics of Human Rights published in the Fall and this April she was one of the two recipients of the 2019 SMU ALEC PAT “Pretty Amazing Teacher” Award, which honors professors who encourage their students to get the tutoring and academic training they need, challenges students to become better learners, and works in partnership with the SMU ALEC (Althshuler Learning Enhancement Center). We reached out to her about her textbook and she answered our questions as follows.

Q. What is the reason behind creating this book? What motivated you to create this book?

A. I saw an overlap in the needs of several different groups. Students ask me how they can best prepare to change the world. Nonprofit organizations and think tanks ask Equip the Saints (the nonprofit consulting organization I founded) for help with data collection and analysis in areas where social issues and economics connect. National and international organizations, researchers, and activists who find my research ask how they can access necessary research and gain insight.

I wrote The Economics of Human Rights to provide economics (and other) students with the training needed to work in interdisciplinary teams. The textbook teaches students how to view a social issue through the lens of economics and provides the foundational information needed to understand that issue so that they can use their economics skills to complement the world-changing team of which they are a part. Around 75% of the material is accessible to non-economics majors so the textbook can be used in political science, communications, human rights, and other studies.

I also wanted to encourage students to consider choosing economics as a major. Economics provides powerful tools that can be used to create positive change in the world.

Q. Do you think this book will make a difference in how people view human rights? Will they see it in more of an economics aspect? Why do you think discussing the use of economics in human rights is important?

A. I believe this book will make a difference in how people view human rights and how they view economics. I define economics as the science of choice when dealing with scarcity. The basis of each human rights violation is the choices of a person or group. In addition, each human right has multiple parts that are tied to monetary decisions. When we can determine the benefits and costs of perpetrators, victims, and bystanders, we can find ways to create incentives to change those decisions. Changing those incentives could lead to decreased violence and better lives.

Q. How did you first get into economics and why did you choose to major in it in college?

A. I earned a bachelor’s degree in international business and economics at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas and a Masters in international business and trade from Grambling State University. While working for an international finance company, I read about child labor and its ties to the production and consumption in developed countries. I realized that a Masters and Ph.D. in economics would provide me with the skills and status needed to make a real impact in the lives of marginalized people, so I went back to school at Temple University.

Q. Tell us about your time obtaining your Ph.D. and M.A. at Temple University.

A. I was out of school for several years before starting my schooling at Temple University. Fortunately, some of my fellow Ph.D. students were willing to tutor me to help me catch up with the skills I lacked. There was great camaradery among the economics Ph.D. students. I found the mentors I needed in Dr. Michael Leeds and Dr. Moshen Fardmanesh. These two gentlemen were instrumental in teaching me to become an economist and to do scientific research. The economics professors poured their knowledge into us.

Q. Are you working on any pieces right now?

A. My current project is rewriting the textbook in a reading style for professionals. I am also working on new research on the economics of gun violence.

Q. What do your colleagues and family think of your piece?

A. My family, friends, and colleagues have always been supportive of my work. They are proud of the textbook and the fact that I keep finding new ways to change the world in a positive way.

Interview by Oumaima Elaamerani.

Ellie Dittes, Economics Major, 2019 Diamond Award Winner

Portrait of Ellie Dittes

This year, the recipient of Temple’s Diamond Award was Fox economics major, Ellie Dittes.

The Diamond Award is the highest recognition given to an undergraduate at Temple University, and is for those who have shown exceptional leadership, academic achievement, and service to the University and community.

Ellie is a senior from Nashville, Tennessee. After she toured Temple as a high school freshman, she was attracted to the school’s positive vibe and moved to the Northeast.  She first stared off as an International business major, but then fell in love with economics and changed her major. Her first internship was at Bimbo Bakery, focusing on supply chain management. She then worked for Johnson and Johnson, and her most recent internship was with PWS. As for research, Ellie studied sports economics and did her own independent research on auction theory.

Ellie believes her work as the project administrator for Fox’s strategic planning process contributed most to her winning the Diamond award. With this process, Fox is working to redefine itself, and she supported this initiative immensely. Her leadership roles include being the executive VP of the college council, and she was in the Temple Student Government for Fox school. Alongside all of this, Ellie was a Diamond Peer Teacher for Professor Das’s Microeconomics class.

After graduation, Ellie will be stationed in Kosovo working for the Peace Corps in community development.

Ellie emphasizes the advantage of being a business student and being able to work closely with the faculty of the economics department in the College of Liberal Arts.

Profile of Ellie Dittes by Kaitlin Flynn.

Economics presentations at the 2019 Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creativity

Nine undergraduate economics students presented their research in the 2019 Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creativity that has held at Temple University’s Main Campus on April 11. Their presentations filled two sessions. The program of the sessions follows, with a link to photos from the sessions at the end.

9:30 – 10:50 Research in Economics 1

Megan Maxwell,, Measuring the Influence of China on South Asian Trade Openness

Han Pham,, “No Country for Young Women?” The Impact of Restrictive Legislation on Women’s Health in Texas

Nicholas Russo,, Should We Eat Rotten Tomatoes? An Examination of the Relationship between Film Critic Reviews and Box Office Performance

Benjamin Salzer,, The Transfer Market and Success in the English Premier League

11:00 – 12:20 Research in Economics 2

Indonesia Young,, The Impact of Inclusivity in the Cosmetics Industry: The Effect of Skin Shade Variety on Complexion Product Ratings

Sean Dix,, Exploring the Impact of Unemployment on Voter Turnout in Pennsylvania Counties During the 2016 Presidential Election

Steven Hamilton,, A Consumer Choice Model for Effective Altruism

Natalie Scott Bird Biodiversity, GDP Per Capita, and the Environmental Kuznets Curve

Julie Weiss,, The Life and Deaths of Opiates: An Empirical Analysis of Opioid Overdoses and Opioid Prescribers

For photos of the event, please visit

Two recent papers by Professor Maclean

Associate Professor Maclean, who recently became a Co-Editor at the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (JPAM), has two recent papers in this journal.  The objective of JPAM is to publish and disseminate high-quality and timely policy-relevant work.

Paper 1:

Title: The effect of medical marijuana laws on the labor supply and health of older adults: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study

Authors: Lauren Hersh Nicolas and Johanna Catherine Maclean

Summary: Legalization of medical marijuana is highly controversial in the United States.  While federal law prohibits the use of marijuana for any purpose, 34 states – beginning with California in 1996 – permit legal medical use of this substance for patients meeting specific criteria.  Advocates contend that medical marijuana offers an effective medication that allows patients to treat painful symptoms associated with chronic and acute health conditions for which traditional medications and procedures are unable to adequately manage.  Critics argue that legalization will result in recreation, not medical, use of marijuana and, in turn, cause substance use disorders, crime and violence, and other social ills.

A number of studies have examined the effect of state legalization of medical marijuana laws (‘MMLs’) on marijuana use, use of other substances (e.g., alcohol and cocaine), use of related healthcare (e.g., prescription medications that are used to treat symptoms for which marijuana is often used), health outcomes (e.g., days in poor mental health), and crime (e.g., traffic accidents).  Overall, these studies suggest that MMLs lead to both increased medical and recreational marijuana use, and improve many, but not all, health outcomes, suggesting a complex relationship between legal access to marijuana and social outcomes.

There are no studies, however, that examine how legal access to marijuana conferred through MMLs affects older adults.  Older adults are important to study as this group is much more likely to experience health conditions with symptoms which can be effectively treated with medical marijuana based on clinical trial evidence (e.g., chronic pain).  Further, older adults are at elevated risk of leaving the labor market due to poor health.  Given the health conditions experienced by older adults and associated implications for labor market attachment, failure to study MML effects on older adults represents an important omission within the literature.

Our study seeks to address the above-noted dearth.  We use data on older adults, defined as those ages 51 years and above, from the Health and Retirement Study to examine the effects of MMLs on health and labor supply over the period 1992 to 2012.  We find that when a state adopts an MML older adult self-assessed health improves, chronic pain declines, and labor supply – measured as the number of hours worked per week and propensity to work fulltime – increases.  In terms of labor supply, our findings imply that while MMLs do not prompt retired workers to return to the labor market, MMLs allow working older adults to work more.  Using unique data on health histories available within the Health and Retirement Study, we show that our effects are driven by older adults most likely to use medical marijuana to treat health condition symptoms.  These findings offer new evidence on the full effects of state legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.


Paper 2:

Title: The effect of public insurance expansions on substance use disorder treatment: Evidence from the Affordable Care Act

Authors: Johanna Catherine Maclean and Brendan Saloner

Summary: Problems associated with substance use disorders (SUDs) are a major public health concern within the United States.  SUDs are clinical conditions that impose substantial costs on both the individual and on greater society.  For the individual, SUDs impede health, interpersonal relationships, and employment, and in some cases can lead to incarceration and even death.  The costs to society – which represent increased healthcare and social service costs, a less productive labor force, and criminal justice system costs – are over $500B each year.  SUDs are common, in 2016 over 20M individuals in the U.S. met diagnostic criteria for an SUD.  Indeed, the U.S. is in the midst of an unprecedented illicit drug epidemic, largely related to opioids.  Each day over 115 Americans die from an opioid-related overdose, representing a quadrupling of the death rate since 1999.  Moreover, the prevalence rate varies across demographic groups with lower income and uninsured populations at elevated risk for an SUD.

While effective treatment is available, only one in ten individuals who would benefit from such treatment receive any care each year.  While there are a wide range of reasons for not receiving care, a commonly cited reason is lack of insurance coverage and inability to pay for treatment.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 represents a major transformation of the healthcare delivery system.  Health scholars note that no health condition is likely to be more affected by this historic Act than SUDs.  Of particular relevance for SUDs is Medicaid expansion.  Medicaid, which is jointed funded and operated by state and federal governments, is the primary insurer of poor people in the U.S.  However, prior to the ACA, in most states Medicaid covered only poor parents and the disabled.  Many individuals, regardless of their income level and health needs, were not eligible for Medicaid.  The ACA provided additional funding for states to expand Medicaid to all individuals with income up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).  As of February 2019, 37 states (including DC) have expanded Medicaid.  Medicaid generously covers a wide-range of SUD treatments.  For many ‘newly eligible’ individuals, Medicaid expansion offers access to insurance for the first time and this population has elevated rates of SUDs.

We study the effect of Medicaid expansion on use and financing of SUD treatment using government data on use of specialty treatment (e.g., inpatient rehabilitation services) and medications obtained in outpatient settings (e.g., private doctors’ offices) to treat SUDs.  We find that, after a state expands Medicaid in conjunction with the ACA, treatment use increases and treatment financing shifts from state and local governments – which provided the majority of funding for SUD treatment through targeted grants historically – to Medicaid programs.

In summary, our findings suggest that Medicaid expansion allowed more people to receive treatment for their SUDs and that the financing of this treatment was provided by state and federal governments through Medicaid programs.  Given the very low incomes of individuals who gained Medicaid eligibility through the ACA expansions – 138% of FPL for a family of two is roughly $23,000 per year – this change in financing likely offers critical financial protection for vulnerable members of society.  Further, this new treatment utilization plausibly reduces SUDs within the population and reduces social costs.



Douglas Webber’s Lego-assisted classes

Our Associate Professor Dr. Douglas Webber recently has been getting attraction in his Twitter stream due to his Lego models showing econometric concepts. Kaitlin Flynn interviewed him about it. Enjoy reading the story:

One of his most popular tweets, receiving over 1000 likes, displays the Simpson’s Paradox. The Simpson’s Paradox, as described by Wikipedia is “a phenomenon in probability and statistics, in which a trend appears in several different groups of data but disappears or reverses when these groups are combined.” (“Simpson’s Paradox,” n.d.)

In the tweet shown below, Dr. Webber displays the Average vs. Local Treatment Effect. The purple pipe-cleaner on this model represents the whole population, while the yellow pipe-cleaner only represents a small portion of the population.

Dr. Webber shows “the importance of having a (good) comparison group,” with these models. This comparison is called Differences in Differences regression. A treatment group and a comparison group are observed, and this can be used to, for example, find the effect of a policy you want to implement. To clarify the image more, Olena Berchuk, a student of Dr. Webber, included an explanation:

“So looking in the picture, the blue set of Legos is a good comparison for the red set because the pipe cleaner slopes before the policy change (the vertical, blue Lego line) are the same. The orange pipe cleaner in that picture shows the difference in the outcome due to the policy change, while the green one is the overall difference (including the trend). But if you look at the last picture, the one with the yellow Legos as a comparison group, you can see that the slopes before the blue policy change line are not the same, which suggests that this is a really bad comparison group (and it is, because it actually causes us to underestimate the true effect of the policy — notice how the green pipe cleaner is really small as compared to the orange pipe cleaner in the previous photo with the other comparison group).”

Dr. Webber is also using these models in his classes for his students to get a better understanding for these econometric concepts.

Anthony DeFusco’s prize-winning paper

Catching up with our 2009 alumnus Anthony DeFusco

Anthony DeFusco headshot

Anthony DeFusco headshot from

After earning his undergraduate degree at Temple University Magna cum Laude in economics and mathematics in 2009, Anthony DeFusco went on to earn his Ph.D. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and then went on to become an Associate Professor of Finance at the Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University. We in the department of economics have been following his career happily and we were elated to learn in early January that his paper “Homeowner Borrowing and Housing Collateral: New Evidence from Expiring Price Controls”, Journal of Finance, 73(2), 523-573, 2018, won the Brattle Group Prize for 2018: First Prize Paper. We thought we’d reach out to Anthony and our Freshman economics major Kaitlin Flynn conducted an interview with Anthony via email. Enjoy reading it:

  1. After graduating Temple, did you have a clear idea on what industry you wanted to work in, or what you wanted to work on as an economist?

I graduated from Temple knowing that I wanted to go into academia as a professor, but was not completely sure what field within economics that I wanted to concentrate on. I knew that I had a very strong interest in applied microeconomics generally but could have easily seen myself studying finance, public economics, labor economics, or urban economics. It wasn’t until later that I narrowed in on exactly what I wanted to focus my research on.

  1. Did you work on any research projects during your time at Temple? What were they?

My most significant research experience at Temple was during the time I spent as a research assistant at the Philly Fed between my junior and senior years. I was involved in several research projects on the mortgage market while I was there. This was during the height of the financial crisis and played a big role in stoking my interest in housing and mortgage markets.

  1. You went to UPenn right after graduating from Temple, was going to grad school early in your college plans?

No, as a freshman and sophomore I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do when I graduated. It wasn’t until my junior year that I really decided that I wanted to go to graduate school. I decided sometime during my sophomore year that I might want to go to grad school though, so I tried to choose my courses in a way that would allow me to keep that option open.

  1. Your prize-winning paper is about borrowing homeowners, could you give some important points on your research?

The main goal of this particular project was to try to understand the mechanisms underlying the well-known correlation between rising house prices and rising household debt. This was a major topic of concern during the run-up to the 2009 financial crisis, which featured both rapidly rising house prices and unprecedented increases in household borrowing. The paper tries to understand why homeowners tend to borrow so much when the value of the house goes up. Generally speaking, there are two reasons why households would borrow more in response to rising house prices. The first is what’s known as the “wealth effect,” which is just the idea that when the value of your house increases you are in some sense “richer” and would like to borrow against that new wealth. The second explanation, which is the focus of my paper, is the “collateral effect.” This is the idea that even if we were to fix how much you want to borrow, an increase in the value of your house may lead to more borrowing simply because it increases the amount you are able to borrow. These two effects are very hard to tease apart empirically, and my paper is all about trying to understand the importance of the latter effect. The results I find suggest that collateral effects are a quantitatively very important part of the reason why household borrowing tends to rise with house prices.

  1. How did you begin your research on this topic?

This is a topic I had sort of been interested in since my internship at the Philly Fed, but didn’t really start working on actively until late in graduate school. I knew it was a hard question to answer and didn’t really have a good idea of how to go about doing that until I came across the particular “natural experiment” that I exploit in the paper well into my graduate studies. However, I had been involved in some other papers that use the same data prior to starting this one so once I had a sense of how I wanted to answer this question, I was able to get to work on it right away.

  1. Based on your research, what would you recommend to borrowers?

I think one of the things that comes out of my research as well as a lot of the other recent work in this area is a cautionary tale about the potential dangers of taking on too much debt. While credit markets and the ability to borrow are crucial parts of a well-functioning economy, it is also true that the most severe economic downturns and financial crisis are almost always accompanied by large run-ups in household debt. If households take on more debt than they can sustain in the long run this can be bad both for them individually and also for the broader macroeconomy.

  1. I see you’ve written a lot about the housing market, is this where most of your interest is?

I would say that my interests are broadly in the area of household finance which includes the housing and mortgage markets but also encompasses all other aspects of household financial decision-making. I’ve studied the housing and mortgage markets a lot in part because they are the largest components of the household balance sheet and also because I have a lot of institutional knowledge in those areas. Going forward, I expect my work to continue to have a housing focus, but it is very likely that I will also study topics outside of that specific area.

  1. How did Temple prepare you as an economist, more specifically, what courses?

I think the most important courses for setting me up for success as an economist were my core econ classes as well as some classes in econometrics and statistics. I took Principles of Micro with Andy Buck and Intermediate Micro with Bill Stull. Both of them were phenomenal teachers who did a great job laying out the intuition of economics in a way that was both interesting and accessible. I also remember really enjoying Dimitrios Diamantaras’s elective course on information economics. I was a double major in math, which was also very important for preparing me for graduate school. Performing well in classes on real analysis, calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra are all pretty much prerequisites for getting into a good PhD program in economics.

  1. What advice would you give to Freshman economics majors here at Temple, like myself?

I think the most important advice I could give is to try to think hard very early on about what you might want to do after graduating. Temple has a lot of amazing resources that can definitely help set you up for success, but you need to make sure to actively seek out and take advantage of those resources. This requires having somewhat of a plan. For example, you don’t want to find yourself in your senior year wanting to go to graduate school but not having taken any of the math courses necessary to get in or not having had any research experience. The same goes for getting a good job in industry. If you have a sense of what you want to do early on (and this can change over time), then you will know which summer internships might be worth seeking out and you can take the proactive steps needed to secure those internships.

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.

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.

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.