Back in Seattle

I am back! I arrived in Seattle yesterday and will be updating my blog a little more regularly now. The main thing happening right now is that we are looking to hire a junior micro-econometrician. We interviewed a number of good candidates at the ASSA meetings in Boston and we will be deciding on fly-outs soon. I will provide an update when more information is available.

I will also be teaching a course in the microeconomics of development. More on that later.

Development Economics Course at Brown

I have added a link to the undergraduate development economics course that I am currently teaching at Brown. You can find it under "Teaching" in the menu on the left. It is probably mostly of interest to other professors who are setting up a development economics course. I will be teaching a similar course during the Spring quarter at UW, although there will probably be quite a few changes, if for no other reason that I will not have a TA!

Visiting position at Brown

I will a Visiting Assistant Professor at Brown for the Fall semester (mid August to mid December). While in Providence I will be based at the Population Studies and Training Center, which just moved in to a very nicely renovated building (the old Historical Society building on Waterman Street). Beside doing research and talking to people about my research ideas, I will also be teaching an undergraduate course in development economics for the Economics Department. Furthermore, I am scheduled to present a paper at the PSTC Colloquia Series and at the NEUDC which will be held at Brown this year. The best way to get in touch with me while I am gone is to use my UW email address, which I will continue to use (and I will probably forward my Brown email to that). You can also try giving me a ring at (401) 863-9411, although I do not have a voice mail yet.

Changing Population Policies in China?

This New York Times article, Fearing Future, China Starts to Give Girls Their Due, is worth reading (required registration). The basic idea is that China is beginning to realise that its sex ratio is unlikely to change by itself in the short run. Therefore, in some areas the local governments have decided in some cases to pay families that already have daughters. This should be in order to persuade more families to have girls. As far as I can tell at least one of the programs is essentially a pension program aimed at parents without children or with only daughters.

China's population passes 1.3bn

According to BBC World China's population passed 1.3bn early Thursday with, very fittingly, the birth of a boy. The main interesting statistics in the article is that among registered births boys outnumer girls 120 to 100 (the expected numbers are 105 boys to every 100 girls). The numbers are obviously higher than in India, which is the topic of some of my current research (see this post), but given that India does not have a one-child policy the difference is not a large as one might expect.

Becker-Posner blog

Okay, I know everybody else has already discovered this, but Gary Becker and Richard Posner have set up a new blog: The Becker-Posner Blog. You can read their introduction here. They have this to say about their blog:

We have decided to start a blog that will explore current issues of economics, law, and policy in a dialogic format. Initially we will be posting just once a week, on Mondays. In time we may post more frequently. The first postings will be tomorrow, December 6.

So far they have discussed preventive war and pharmaceutical patents and as you might expect they are all for it :-). Actually, I was a little disappointed about the level of arguments used. I am not quite sure what I expected, but maybe I was hoping to see something which had some evidence of research behind it. More on this blog when they begin writing about things I care a little more about (research wise).

Siwan Anderson seminar on Friday 5 November

Siwan Anderson from UBC will be presenting her paper, "Dowry and Property Rights", on Friday at 2.00 PM in Savery 302. Anybody interested in meeting with her during her visit here please let me know. The abstract for the paper is:

Dowries traditionally serve as a pre-mortem bequest to daughters. In segregated societies, where men have economic value but women do not, dowry as a bequest is consistent with assortative matching in the marriage market. During the early stages of modernisation, increased income inequality across men leads dowries as bequests to no longer be consistent with desired marriage matching patterns. It is demonstrated here that, instead, modernisation necessarily leads to the emergence of dowry as a direct transfer to the groom ("groom-price"). It is then shown that the historical instances of dowry can be classified according to the schema implied by the model. The implications of the model are also tested using current data from Pakistan; a country of some relevance because dowry legislation is currently an active policy debate. The results suggest that the transformation of dowry from bequest to groom-price appears to be underway in some areas.

Nobel Prize to Kydland and Prescott

Kydland and Prescott will receive the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2004"for their contributions to dynamic macroeconomics: the time consistency of economic policy and the driving forces behind business cycles". You can find more information on the Nobel web site. For those of us who can remember having read about business cycles in our macro economics courses but are in need a quick recap, there is a nice review of Kydland and Prescott's contributions to the literature.