William & Mary

Southern Economic Association Meetings 2015

Every year the Southern Economic Association holds meetings. The 85th annual meetings are in New Orleans, November 21-23. William and Mary is represented in 8 different sessions where presenters showcase original economic research. The following is a sample of research that W&M economics department faculty will present at the meetings.

Professor John Lopresti will present "Policy Uncertainty and the Margins of Trade," which is coauthored with Mihai Ion and Andrew Greenland. Building upon recent theoretical models in international trade, they derive predictions for the impact of policy uncertainty on the margins of trade. They decompose aggregate bilateral trade flows from 1995-2012 into intensive and extensive margin components and employ a standard gravity specification to assess the impact of policy uncertainty on each margin separately. Consistent with the model, increases in policy uncertainty decrease both trade values and the extensive margin but have an ambiguous effect on the intensive margin. After controlling for various measures of expected future economic conditions, their estimates indicate that a 10% increase in policy uncertainty would lead to a 1% decrease in aggregate trade flows, with virtually all of the decline attributable to the extensive margin. In further tests they find that their results cannot be attributed solely to the recent global economic crisis or to periods with extremely high levels of policy-related uncertainty.

Professor Sarah Stafford will present "Toxic Exposure, Social Vulnerability and Sea-Level Rise in Virginia," which is coauthored with Jeremy Abramowitz who is a masters in public policy candidate. By the year 2100, sea level wrist in Virginia is projected to be as must as seven feet or more. The goal of their project is to examine how sea level rise in Virginia exposes social vulnerability and raises questions of environmental justice. This paper presents a methodology for determining which groups have the highest risks in terms of physical and social vulnerability to sea level rise and exposure to toxic substances to help local governments target their planning efforts.

Professor John Parman will present "Gender and Mobility: Using Longevity to Measure Intergenerational Mobility Across Gender and Over Time." Changes in intergenerational mobility over time have been the focus of extensive research.  However, existing studies have been limited to studying males and intergenerational correlations in outcome variables that often lack clear welfare implications.  This paper introduces a new approach to estimating intergenerational mobility that relies on health measures rather than occupational measures to assess the strength of the relationship between the outcomes of parents and their children. Health measures provide a metric for intergenerational mobility that can be consistently interpreted over time and across genders. Using a new intergenerational dataset constructed by linking individuals' death certificates to those of their parents, a son's life span is strongly correlated with his father's and that this correlation has strengthened over time.  Daughter's life span shows a similarly strong relationship with mother's life span that has remained relatively stable over the past century.  Differences in life span are shown to correlate with occupational status and occupational transitions from one generation to the next.

Professor Nate Throckmorton will present "The Zero Lower Bound and Endogenous Uncertainty," which is coauthored with Mike Plante and Alex Richter. This paper documents that a strong negative correlation between various measures of macroeconomic uncertainty and real GDP growth only emerged since the onset of the Great Recession. Before that event the correlation was weak and in many cases not statistically less than zero, even when restricting the data sample to only include recessions. A major difference between the Great Recession and previous recessions is that the Fed has been constrained by the ZLB on the federal funds rate. They contend that the ZLB constraint contributed to the stronger negative correlation that emerged in mid-2008. To test their theory, they use a model where the ZLB occasionally binds. The model has the same key feature as the data—away from the ZLB the correlation is weak but strongly negative when the policy rate is close to or at its ZLB. Their model is also consistent with the stronger correlations that emerged in the data between real GDP growth and both inflation and nominal interest rate uncertainty in mid-2008.