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What Fosters Innovation? A CrossSectional Panel Approach to Assessing the Impact of Cross Border Investment and Globalization on Patenting Across Global Economies

By Michael Dessau and Nicholas Vega

This study considers the impact of foreign direct investment (FDI) on innovation in high income, uppermiddle  income and lowermiddle income countries. Innovation matters because it is a critical factor for economic growth. In a panel setting, this study assesses the degree to which FDI functions as a vehicle for innovation as proxied by scaled local resident patent applications. This study considers research and development (R&D), domestic savings, imports and exports, and quality of governance as factors which could also impact the effectiveness of FDI on innovation. Our results suggest FDI is most effective as inward direct investment in countries outside the technological frontier possessing adequate existing domestic investment capital and R&D spending to convert foreign investment capital and technological spillover into innovation. Nonetheless, FDI was not a consistent indicator for innovation; rather, the most consistent indicators across this study were R&D and domestic savings. Differences amongst income groups are highlighted as well as their varying responses to our array of causal factors.

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Advisor: Lori Leachman | JEL Codes: A10, B22, C82, E00, E02, O10, O11, O30, O31, O32, O33, O34, O43

Undergraduate Education and the Gender Wage Gap: An Analysis of the Effects of College Experience and Gender on Income

By Kelsey Siman

Labor and education economists have long been interested in the link between undergraduate education and earnings. In addition, studies have addressed the connections between gender and college major and GPA, as well as between gender and income. This paper brings all of these together in order to show that college major choice does have a significant effect on earnings, and that this effect differs with gender and across majors. The results show that controlling for college major, ability measures, graduation year, and GPA can help to explain a majority of the gender pay gap. Finally, the thesis then utilizes the Oaxaca-Blinder Decomposition to break down the price and composition effect of undergraduate education on the gender pay gap.

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Advisor: Arnaud Maurel, Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: A22, J16 | Tagged: College, Gender, Income

Federal Outlays: The Effect of the President and Electoral Politics

By Michael Ge

The effect of congressional electoral politics on pork barrel spending is a well -studied phenomenon.
Likewise, presidential politics are receiving increased scrutiny. This paper aims to expand the
literature relating presidential electoral politics and the geographic distribution of federal funds on a
county level. It asks whether there is increased spending in the electorally-important counties in the
electorally-important states during and after a presidential elections. Results show that there are in
fact links between electoral importance and federal funding levels. However, results do not show a
trend in those results over different elections.

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Advisor: Marjorie McElroy | JEL Codes: A12, D72, E62, H50, H61 | Tagged: Distributive Politics, Pork Barrel, Presidential Elections, US Federal Budget

Capturing a College Education’s Impact on Industry Wages Across Time: An Analysis of Academic Factors that Affect Earnings

By Ian Low

Studying how a college education can impact one’s wages has always been an area of interest amongst labor and education economists. While previous studies have stressed using single academic factors (i.e. college major choice, performance, or college prestige) to determine the effect on wages, there has not been a focus on predicting wages given industries and a combination of these academic factors across time. Therefore, the crux of my thesis seeks to provide a new model which incorporates college major choice, GPA, industry selection across time, college type (private or public), natural ability (standardized test scores), and several demographic variables in order to predict percent increase/decrease in wages. My results show that college major choice, academic performance, natural ability, and industry selection (together) do have a significant impact on earnings, and they are appropriate measures to predict post-graduation wages.

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Advisor: Peter Arcidiacon | JEL Codes: A2, A22, J3, J31 | Tagged: College, Industry, Wages

“Winner-­‐Take-­‐All Economics” Professional Inquiry and Public Discourse on Material Inequality

By Jonathan Pryor

What can account for the failure of economists to extend a firm guiding hand into the public discourse on material inequality in contemporary America? This paper reviews historical and modern economic literature and then extends its focus to the debates in the public sector, private opinion, “think tanks,” the news media, the private sector, special interest groups, and popular culture. The intractable social, political and economic complexity of the problem and the influence of competing interests deter attempts at economic interpretation. Economists should respond to the public need by devoting greater attention to descriptive and prescriptive analyses, developed with an appreciation of the competing interests and activities of the various sectors that must accept any response.

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Advisor: Craufurd Goodwin | JEL Codes: A11, A13, B12, B13, B14, B15 | Tagged: Economic Inequality, Income Inequality, Wealth Inequality

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