CSWEP Junior Economists Mentoring Breaksfasts

It’s almost that time again. The ASSAs are fast upon us and while I haven’t been quite as attuned to the job market this year, I’m surely going to attend the meetings when they are in a place I have free paid for place to stay (my apartment, that is). With that, I’d also like to call your attention to the third annual mentoring breakfasts for women put on by CSWEP. Details below. I’ll hopefully be there on Monday. Hope to see some of you there!

Also worth noting. There’s a mid-career peer mentoring breakfast on Sunday this year, too.

Spaces Available for CSWEP’s Mentoring Breakfasts for Junior Economists

Two Sessions: Saturday, January 3rd & Monday, January 5th

8:00-10:0AM, Sheraton Boston, Fairfax A& B

For more info and to register, visit: http://bit.ly/1y9v8yC

CSWEP is pleased to host the third annual mentoring breakfasts for junior economists from 8-10AM on Saturday, January 3rd & Monday, January 5th in the Sheraton Boston, Fairfax A&B.  At these informal meet and greet events, senior economists (predominately senior women) will be on hand to provide mentoring and networking opportunities.

Junior economists are invited to drop in with questions on topics such as publishing, teaching, grant writing, networking, job search, career paths, and the tenure process.  For the 2015 breakfasts we will encourage rotation of mentees so that they may have the opportunity to connect with a greater number of mentors.

Mentors are currently committed from Agnes Scott, Brown, BU, Colgate, Columbia, Duke, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, George Mason, Georgetown, Illinois, Indiana, MacArthur Foundation, Maryland, Missouri-St. Louis, Occidental, Princeton, Providence College, UCBerkeley, UCLA, UNC- Chapel Hill, University of Texas, UPenn, USM, and Virginia.

Junior economists who have completed their PhD in the past 6 years or graduate students who are on the job market are particularly encouraged to attend.  The event is open to both males and females.

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On vocabulary and observation at the ASSA (a little late, but you know what they say…)

As a first-time job market candidate, the annual ASSA meetings every January are stressful and busy and kind of terrible, but as I’ve gone more and more, I’ve realized they’re kind of awesome. My two favorite events are the CSWEP mentoring breakfast and the CU reception, but everywhere you go, you’re running into people you want to have a conversation with, people you haven’t seen in a year or more, people who want to ask you something or share something exciting. I spent most of the weekend hearing about cool papers, having great conversations about economics, and seeing people I care about. I’m a big fan, turns out.

Even if it’s 0 degrees F and we’re all tromping around in the snow that the city won’t clear.

But I digress. One of the other events I was excited for this time around was the T. Schulz memorial lecture put on by the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. I like ag economists.

The lecture was given by Michael Kremer of Harvard. It wasn’t a traditional lecture in the sense there wasn’t much talk of big ideas or themes. He really just presented a new paper, which was a bit disappointing, but, taken at face value, ultimately interesting.

The paper was trying to ascertain the extent to which asset-collateralized debt would be successful in an experimental setting in East Africa (yes, likely a community that has seen plenty of these interventions). Most of the debt we take on in the US is asset collateralized, if you don’t pay your car loan, they take your car, for instance, but it’s not like that in many other parts of the world. Collateral for loans, especially small loans, often comes in the form of guarantees from family or neighbors, or some cash reserve itself, or sometimes none at all. So, asking whether individuals saw these loan as different is an interesting question if someone is trying to institute them.

Perhaps the most important result is that people were paying back their loans, and not only paying them back, but paying them back early, which Kremer attributed to debt aversion.

As Kremer started in on his preliminary results, the first things I heard were not his interpretation, but rather whispers from all sides around me.

“Neighborhood effects.”

“Peer effects.”

“Why should we think debt aversion is driving this behavior?” There seemed to be a consensus, at least in my part of the audience, that individuals were paying back their debts not because they disliked having debt, per se, but that they thought it made them look bad in the eyes of their neighbors. Some of the first questions following the lecture pertained to the interpretation of the observations.

Two ideas immediately came to my mind during this exchange. The first has to do with quantum physics and how when we observe something, we change it. The second is that many of the whispers around me could be re-interpreted as a discussion of social norms. In the peer effects interpretation, borrowers could see their peers repaying and thus be more likely to repay. And in the social norms sense, borrowers could perceive that having debt is not seen well by the community and thus be more likely to repay. It seems that much of the debate could have been settled by a survey question or two regarding attitudes about debt, social norms around debt, and the perception of debt aversion on a community level. “What percentage of people in this community pay their debts on time?” or “How are people who don’t pay their debts treated in this community?” Or something like that.

It strikes me that the language economists and other social scientists use to explain similar phenomena are often very different. Also, it seems that Kremer could have fairly quickly disabused his critics of their notions had he conducted at least a little surveying on debt aversion and social norms.

2014 CSWEP Mentoring Breakfast

Calling all junior women faculty and job market candidates:

The 2014 CSWEP mentoring breakfast at the ASSA is back! This is a fantastic event, and I really encourage women on the job market to attend as well as junior faculty. There’s always a really interesting crop of big name and successful economists who are willing to discuss everything from publishing to tenure. Plus, breakfast!

Details below:

CSWEP is pleased to host two mentoring/networking breakfasts for junior economists at the AEA/ASSA Meetings from *8:00-10:00AM* *on* *Friday, January 3, 2014* *and Saturday, January 4, 2014 in the Philadelphia Marriott Grand Ballroom, Salon D.*

Senior economists (predominately senior women) will be on hand to provide mentoring and networking opportunities. Junior economists are invited to drop in with questions on topics such as publishing, teaching, grant writing, networking, job search, career paths, and the tenure process. Junior economists who have completed their PhD in the past 6 years or graduate students who are on the job market are particularly encouraged to attend. A light continental breakfast will be provided.

The event is an informal meet and greet affair in which junior participants are encouraged to drop in with questions on topics such as publishing, teaching, grant writing, networking, job search, career paths, and the tenure process. Senior economists who have committed to attend at least one hour of the breakfast are affiliated with institutions such as MIT, Duke, UCLA, NY Federal Reserve, UC-Santa Barbara, UC-Davis, UC-Santa Cruz, Maryland, Kansas, Agnes Scott College, University of Virginia, Yale, RAND, Princeton, Cornell, Georgia Tech, Rutgers, Tufts, Washington University in St. Louis, Iowa State, Tennessee, George Mason, Dartmouth, University of Warwick, UT-Austin, Brandeis, The Wharton School, Michigan, Stanford, Wesleyan, Colgate, Boston University, Marshall, Notre Dame, Missouri-St Louis, and Indiana.

Space is limited and pre-registration is required.  Send an email with the subject heading “CSWEP Mentoring Breakfast” tocswep@econ.duke.edu <mailto:cswep@econ.duke.edu>, containing your name, current institution and position title, research field interests, and your PHD year and institution. Also indicate your preference for Friday or Saturday’s breakfast, or your willingness to attend either morning. Priority will be given to junior faculty and graduate students on the job market.  Priority will also be given to registrations received byDecember 18, 2013.  CSWEP will confirm registrations on December 19, 2013.

Thank you for your assistance informing junior colleagues about this opportunity.

Best regards,

Marjorie McElroy, CSWEP Chair

Off to San Diego

This space has been pretty quiet lately as I’ve been preparing for interviews and writing applications and trying to get all that work done that I didn’t do during the semester. It’s not likely to pick up again as I’m off to San Diego today for the meetings of the American Economics Association. It’s a conference also known as the Allied Social Sciences Association Meetings, which makes my sociologist and anthropologist friends laugh out loud (because they’re not invited…shhhh!) It’s weird; it’s true. I don’t pretend to understand.

At any rate, if you’re interested in following along, there is a twitter handle for the meetings @ASSAmeeting, and a hashtag #ASSA2013. There’s even an app for that.

Sorry. I had to. But really, the app is super helpful. So much easier trying to put in meetings  and interviews on Pacific Time than subtracting hours from wherever I happened to be when the meeting was scheduled. It also has the full conference schedule.

If you’re around and want to grab coffee or a drink or a meal, drop me a line, tweet me, or call. I’m here all week, folks.