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Female Labor Force Participation in Turkic Countries: A Study of Azerbaijan and Turkey

By Natasha Jo Torrens

Encouraging female labor force participation (FLFP) should be a goal of any country attempting to increase their productive capacity. Understanding the determinants and motivations of labor force participation requires isolating the factors that influence a woman’s decision to enter or leave formal employment. In this thesis, I utilize data from the Demographics and Health Surveys to explain the role of social conservatism in promoting or limiting participation in the labor force. I focus on ever-married women in Azerbaijan and Turkey to provide a lens through which to explain the unexpectedly low FLFP of Turkey. Though most prior research attempts to explain Turkey’s low FLFP rate by comparisons to other OECD countries, my study looks at Turkey through the context of other Turkic cultures to explore cultural factors driving labor force participation for ever-married women. This study finds a negative correlation between conservatism and the likelihood of participating in the labor force for ever married women in Azerbaijan, and a larger, positive relationship in Turkey.

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Advisors: Professor Charles Becker, Professor Didem Havlioğlu, Professor Kent Kimrbough | JEL Codes: C50, J16, N95

Asylum Determination within the European Union (EU): Whether Capacity and Social Constraints Impact the Likelihood of Refugee Status Determination

By Louden Paul Richason

This paper analyzes whether capacity and social constraints impact acceptance rates for asylum seekers in the European Union from 2000-2016. Theoretically people should receive asylum based on the criteria outlined in international law – a well founded fear of persecution – but the influx and distribution of applicants in the European Union suggests that this may not hold in practice. For a group of pre identified “legitimate” asylum cases, this paper finds that surges in applications in a country (i.e. capacity constraints) have a positive and statistically significant correlation with acceptance rates, while the percentage of migrants in a country (i.e.  social constraints) has a negative and statistically significant correlation with acceptance rates. This suggests that the burden of proof becomes easier during a surge in total applications in a country. However, as the international migrant stock in that country increases, it is more difficult for that same group of applicants to receive asylum.

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Advisors: Professor Suzanne Shanahan, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: D73, D78, F22, H12, J11, J15, K37, O52

Evidence of Stalinist Terror in Modern Adult Height Data

By David Blauser Henderson

Adult height is often used to evaluate standards of living experienced in childhood, as it is highly dependent on early-life nutrition (Komlos and Baten, 1998). I employ adult height data collected by the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS) to measure well-being among the population of the USSR during two periods of Stalinist repression: The Great Terror from 1937- 1938, and dekulakization, which led directly to the Great Famine of 1932-1933. Heights are normalized by gender and birth year using data from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe. I find that both the Great Terror and Great Famine had significant negative impacts on health. In particular, I find the impact of famine on adult height was greatest for those of low socioeconomic status and those born in rural areas. The Great Terror, however, primarily impacted the health of those of high socioeconomic status, those born in urban areas, and those born in areas that were heavily targeted by repression campaigns.

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Advisors: Professor Charles Becker, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: N5, N54, I15

Deciphering Chinese Financing To African Countries

By Gwen Geng

The paper considers what attracts Chinese aid and Chinese investment to African countries and what kinds of Chinese financing projects are more likely to have unrevealed financing amount. The main database used is AidData: China’s Official Finance to Africa 2000-2012. It contains 2356 Chinese financing projects to 50 African countries. The results suggest that Chinese aid supports less developed economies, while Chinese investment favors countries with resource abundance and political conditions conducive to profit-making. The findings show that projects with unrevealed funding amounts tend to fall under investment and the government sector among other categories, raising questions on financing secrecy.

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Advisors: Robert Garlick and Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: F13, F54, N47, N57, O24, R11, R15

Prediction in Economics: a Case Study of Economists’ Views on the 2008 Financial Crisis

By Weiran Zeng

Prediction in economics is the focal point of debate for the future of economics, ever since economists were burdened with the failure to “predict” the 2008 Financial Crisis. This paper discusses positions held by philosophers and economic methodologists regarding what kinds of predictions there are and creates a taxonomy of prediction. Through evaluation of those positions, this paper presents different senses of prediction that can be expected of economics, and assess economists’ reflections according to those senses.

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Advisor: Kevin Hoover | JEL Codes: B41, N1, G17

Adam Smith and Sayyid Qutb: A comparison of two different worldviews

By Kehaan Manjee

The West and Militant Islam have been in conflict with each other because of their different worldviews. Adam Smith and Sayyid Qutb have arguably had tremendous influence on these worldviews i.e. capitalism and Islamic state. Both thinkers provided their prescriptions to improve the condition of their societies, and analyzing these prescriptions helps us understand the differences in these worldviews. I have compared and contrasted their socioeconomic theories, using these two thinkers as proxies for the West and Militant Islam. I have specifically analyzed their prescriptions on three issues: economic inequality, taxation and interest.  These key issues provide an insight into the views of the two scholars, and through that, the conflicting worldviews of the West and Militant Islam. On economic inequality, Smith believed that his economic system of natural liberty would lead to universal opulence; in contrast, Qutb argued that only an Islamic system of government could reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. Both thinkers supported taxation: Smith wanted to use it to finance the provision of public goods, security and justice; while Qutb not only wanted to use it to finance government services, but also viewed taxation as a tool for redistribution of wealth in the society. Smith and Qutb disagreed on the issue of interest: Smith supported interestbearing lending, but argued for the imposition of a ceiling on interest rates; on the contrary, Qutb wanted an outright prohibition on all forms of interest on creditThese similarities and differences in their prescriptions on various issues provide insight inttheir vision for society. Since their vision and objectives are differentthey have competing worldviews, which explains the conflict between the West and Militant Islam. 

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Advisor: Neil De Marchi | JEL Codes: B10, B12, B15, B31, N00 | Tagged: Adam Smith, Capitalism, Different Worldviews, Islamic State, Sayyid Qutb

Martin Bronfenbrenner: An Economist in the American Occupation of Japan

By Michael Potts

Martin Bronfenbrenner (1914-1997) was one of the last of a generation of generalist economists. His involvement in the U.S. Occupation of Japan changed his life and his career. This paper examines the mutually stabilizing relationship between his persona and his work in light of his experiences in Japan. Access to Bronfenbrenner’s previously restricted and unpublished autobiography archived in the Economists Papers Project at Duke University allows the author to reconstruct, from primary source material, some of the challenges faced by the individual, prewar-trained economist in navigating the postwar transformation of the economics discipline.

Honor’s Thesis

Advisor: E. Roy Weintraub | JEL Codes: B2, B31, N45, N95 | Tagged: U.S. Occupation of Japan, Economic Japanology: Martin Bronfenbrenner

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