Department of Economics

The interest among undergraduate students in the economics major is steadily growing, leaving behind the enrollment dips of the early `90s. The numbers have been up over the last few years and now stand at around fifty students in CBA — with 600 more undergraduates in LAS.



"AT THE UNDERGRADUATE LEVEL WE'RE TARGETING TO GET UP TO ABOUT 750 STUDENTS," says department head Dick Arnould. "Economics is a very popular major for people who go on to law school, MBA programs, industry, management — or pursue an advanced degree in economics," he observes. "A lot of our undergraduates go into banking. We've even had a few students go into medicine. This is an indication of how broad the major is."

In the Ph.D. program, Arnould notes, the trend is reversed. An emphasis on downsizing, to enhance the quality of entrants and reduce faculty/student ratio, brought doctoral program enrollment to 118 for 1997_98. Arnould says the target number is even lower — between ninety and ninety-five. Notwithstanding, the job offers for economics Ph.D.s in 1997 were numerous and impressive. Graduates have gone to academic and research institutions around the world, ranging from Tulane, SUNY-Binghamton, Arizona State, Illinois Wesleyan, and California State to OECD-Paris, the University of Western Ontario, Argonne National Laboratories, and the Centers for Disease Control.

PROFESSOR FRANKLIN R. SHUPP WAS ONE OF JUST TEN INDIVIDUALS nationwide to win a special Fulbright, which allows winners to select their discipline area, research topic, country, and host institution. By combining the Fulbright with a sabbatical leave, Shupp was able to spend 1997 at the University of Cape Town, where he researched the impact of structural change and neighborhood effects on income distribution in South Africa.
ROGER KOENKER HAS BEEN NAMED TO THE WILLIAM B. MCKINLEY Professorship in Economics, the oldest chair in the college. Internationally recognized for his work in econometrics — particularly for the development of quantile regression techniques — Koenker has used funds from his endowment to bring to campus several international visitors to speak on economics and statistics. He has also used funds from external grants for the purchase of software and hardware for the computer laboratory for graduate students in econometrics. (The lab itself was originally financed through a grant Koenker received from the National Science Foundation and the campus Ed Tech Board.)
NICHOLAS YANNELIS, DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI PROFESSOR of Economics, as president of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory, organized a Conference on Economic Theory and Applications in Antalya, Turkey, in June of 1997. The five-day event covered a broad range of topics, including cooperative and non-cooperative game theory, social choice, empirical economics, experimental studies, and spatial and network competition. Among the conference's 150 participants were several CBA faculty members — Tom Krebs, Elizabeth Powers, Bart Taub, and Anne Villamil. Yannelis notes that the society's next meeting will be held in June 1999, on the Greek island of Cephalonia.

Yannelis was appointed to the named professorship last year in recognition of his work in economic theory and issues involving economic outcomes when parties involved face asymmetric information. He serves as co-editor of the Journal of Economic Theory, and has been instrumental in the development of a joint MBA program in Athens, Greece. He is working on the Midwest Math Economics Meetings, to be held at UIUC in fall 1999.

THE JANUARY 11 EDITION OF THE DES MOINES REGISTER CITED A STUDY by economics professor Larry Neal. Neal calculated that unpaid wages to slaves in the Antebellum South totaled $1.4 trillion. Based on 246 years' worth of labor by 15 million slaves, the figure was adjusted for inflation.

"I think if more people were better informed about economics, life would be much simpler. It's a basic subject and it has come into play many times in my own career."

- Milton Darr, B.S. 1942
Retired President, LaSalle National Bank