• Nobel-winning economist Michael Kremer to join department faculty as University Professor


    Photo by Jon Chase/Harvard University

    Photo by Jon Chase/Harvard University

    Nobel Prize-winning economist Michael Kremer has been appointed University Professor at the University of Chicago and will join our department faculty.

    A pioneer in development economics who has shaped the discipline through the use of field experiments to inform economic models, policy and program development, Kremer shared the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in 2019. He has been most recently at Harvard University, where he serves as the Gates Professor of Developing Societies in the Department of Economics.

    Kremer’s appointment at UChicago will be effective on Sept. 1. He also will hold a secondary appointment at the Harris School of Public Policy.

    “Michael is a scholar of extraordinary vision and accomplishment. His research has had an enormous influence on his field, and has been impactful in informing public policy in developing countries,” said Ka Yee C. Lee, provost and the David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry. “We are delighted to welcome Michael to the University of Chicago. The range of his research will undoubtedly lead to collaborations across divisions and schools.”

    University Professors are among those recruited at a senior level from outside the University, and are selected for internationally recognized eminence in their fields as well as for their potential for high impact across the University. Kremer will become the 23rd person to hold a University Professorship, and the 10th active faculty member holding that title.

    “The University of Chicago’s commitment to expanding research on development economics is an exceptional opportunity,” Kremer said. “The work ahead will develop new knowledge on ways to address global poverty and ultimately to do good for the world.

    Kremer was among the first economists to evaluate interventions in developing countries through randomized control trials. In 1998, he evaluated a project on deworming in Kenya. By comparing schools that had already been phased into treatment for intestinal worms with those that had not yet been phased into the program, he and his collaborators found that the program reduced student absenteeism by a quarter—and even reduced transmission of the disease to neighboring schools. Subsequent work also found that deworming had long-run impacts, leading to higher living standards 20 years later.

    “Michael’s research and its resulting policy impacts in economic development, health, education and technological innovation has been transformative at a global scale,” said Amanda Woodward, dean of the Division of the Social Sciences and the William S. Gray Distinguished Service Professor of Psychology. “We look forward to the next revolutionary phases of Michael’s work. He will be a foundational force for the future of Griffin Economics as well as for the broad community of economists at the University of Chicago.”

    Through the nonprofit organization Evidence Action and its private sector and government partners, Kremer’s work has now helped provide free deworming treatments to 280 million children. The World Health Organization recommends large-scale deworming as the most cost-effective way to improve children’s health and nutrition.

    “All of Michael’s work is grounded in theory and built around a coherent set of ideas interrogating what we can learn from economics,” said Rob Shimer, chair of the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics and the Alvin H. Baum Professor in Economics. “His extraordinary contributions to the field of economics and to improving human welfare are testament to the power of his methodological innovations.”

    In addition to that research, Kremer helped develop the advance market commitment, proposing the idea of a contract that would guarantee that if firms developed vaccines for diseases affecting the developing world meeting certain technological specifications, donors would help cover the cost of purchasing the product. Such commitments have stimulated private investment in vaccine research and the distribution of vaccines for diseases in the developing world. A $1.5 billion commitment by a consortium of donors led to the development and distribution of vaccines covering the strains of pneumococcal diseases common in the developing world, saving an estimated 700,000 lives.

    “Michael’s landmark work has not only advanced the field but has had enormous real-world impact,” said Katherine Baicker, dean and the Emmett Dedmon Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy. “His work has resulted in billions of dollars being devoted towards malaria and pneumococcal vaccines focused on the strains prevalent in developing countries. Few economists have saved so many lives around the world.”

    While changes in broad-scale government programs have long provided economists with natural experiments to inform their models, Kremer and his colleagues developed an iterative strategy that engages—and in some instances, founds—NGOs to deliver social programs that implement and test economic ideas. This approach can reveal the causal forces at play in economic systems, shedding light where observational data cannot. It also offers a proving ground for developing and perfecting effective policies and programs.

    At UChicago, Kremer will lead a new Development Innovation Lab, an initiative that will sit within the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics.

    “I am excited to join the University of Chicago, with its storied tradition of pioneering economics research,” Kremer said. “The new lab will use the tools of economics to develop innovations of practical use for developing countries. By bringing together experts in different fields and working closely with nonprofit organizations, firms and governments in the developing world, we can simultaneously advance knowledge and generate solutions to development challenges which can reach hundreds of millions of people.”

    “Michael’s work simultaneously pushes out the frontier of understanding and has had enormous and lasting impacts on people’s well-being,” said Michael Greenstone, director of the Becker Friedman Institute and the Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics. “He is the perfect person to lead the Development Innovation Lab at BFI, and I know he will catalyze the terrific development economics here into even greater heights, with the ultimate beneficiaries being the field of economics and the world.”

    Kremer is the author of more than 120 academic articles and book chapters. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a 1997 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. He has won awards for his work on health economics, agricultural economics and on Latin America.

    Kremer earned his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1992. He was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Chicago in Spring Quarter 1993. Prior to his appointment at Harvard, he was a member of the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1993 to 1999.

    For more information, please see https://news.uchicago.edu/story/nobel-winning-economist-michael-kremer-join-uchicago-faculty-university-professor.


  • Intuit Launches New QuickBooks Small Business Index in Collaboration with Professor Ufuk Akcigit

    Intuit Launches New QuickBooks Small Business Index, Providing Unique and Up-To-Date Insight Into Small Business Economy Through Employment and Hiring Data

    First Monthly Index Report Shows US Small Business Employment Drops 0.06% in February 2023 Compared to Previous Month

    US Small Businesses with One to Nine Employees Still Account for Over 12.8 Million Jobs

    The following is a press release from Business Wire and the full version can be found, complete with charts, graphs, and editor's notes, here

    March 14, 2023 03:01 AM Eastern Daylight Time

    MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--()--Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ: INTU), the global financial technology platform that makes TurboTaxCredit KarmaQuickBooks, and Mailchimp, has launched the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index, a powerful new monthly indicator of employment and hiring among small businesses in the US, Canada, and the UK developed in collaboration with leading global economist Professor Ufuk Akcigit.

    We know many small businesses face challenges as they build and grow. Our index will help unlock insights that can drive new innovations to help them succeed by providing a clear, up-to-date picture of US small business employment - a vital, yet often underreported segment of the US economy.

    The Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index uses purpose-built economic models to normalize anonymized QuickBooks customer data against official government statistics to reflect the general population of small businesses in each country; it is not a reflection of Intuit’s business. This robust methodology expands Intuit’s ability to more clearly delineate between Intuit’s small business customers and the small business community at large, while also providing a powerful new tool that can inform government policies that impact small businesses around the globe, as well as to help small businesses make key decisions.

    The Index’s primary benefit is its unparalleled focus on small businesses, which are vital to the current and future health of the economy, but often underrepresented in economic data. By shining a brighter light on small businesses with timely insights, Intuit hopes to increase small business growth and success rates throughout the US, Canada, and the UK.

    Sasan Goodarzi, Intuit’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Up-to-date insights like those now available through our index will be invaluable to anyone focused on the success of small businesses, especially in the face of increasingly challenging economic conditions. We’re excited for this unique index to become a key tool economists, policymakers, and small businesses themselves can use in making decisions that will help power small business prosperity around the world.”

    Employment and hiring is the bellwether for overall US economic health and the first monthly Index reveals:

    • In the US in February 2023, small businesses with one to nine employees employed 7,600 fewer people nationally (seasonally adjusted) compared to the previous month, a monthly decrease of -0.06%. Total employment dropped to 12,812,700 jobs.
    • Sectors that experienced the largest decrease in employment in the US were Information (-0.6%), Manufacturing (-0.33%), and Finance and Real Estate (-0.24%), while employment increased in the Utilities (0.56%), Natural Resources and Mining (0.29%), and Leisure and Hospitality (0.27%) sectors.
    • The US region with the largest monthly drop in employment was the Mideast (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania) at -0.18% while employment grew by 0.33% in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont).

    Renowned global economist, and Arnold C. Harberger Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, Ufuk Akcigit said: “Small and young businesses are essential for employment and productivity growth. During COVID-19, the US economy experienced a surge in small business growth as many adapted to start new businesses. Employment growth associated with this surge peaked toward the end of 2021 and began to decline at an average monthly rate of roughly -0.15% since then. We’re pleased to see the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index indicates this downward trend slowed in February 2023 with overall US small business employment declining just -0.06%, continuing to hold well above pre-pandemic levels. As small businesses and their activity continue to be an even larger part of the US jobs market, it makes it even more important we now have a tool like this Index that will focus on unearthing timely insights into their employment health overall and within specific sectors and regions.”

    Alex Chriss, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Intuit’s Small Business and Self-Employed Group, added: “We know many small businesses face challenges as they build and grow. Our index will help unlock insights that can drive new innovations to help them succeed by providing a clear, up-to-date picture of US small business employment - a vital, yet often underreported segment of the US economy.”

    New data insights will be added to the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index dashboard and published in regular blog posts at the earliest opportunity every month. To subscribe, and get a full list of publication dates for 2023, visit the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index interactive hub.

    In the US, the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index shows the number of people employed by small businesses with 1-9 employees in the previous month and how that number has changed since the month before. These data insights are available at the national, regional, state (when sample sizes are sufficient), and sector levels; based on a total sample of almost 333,000 businesses. Because the Index is powered by anonymized data from QuickBooks Online Payroll, its data insights are available up to nine months earlier than equivalent official statistics, giving a more up-to-date picture of small business employment.

    In Canada, the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index shows the number of people employed by small businesses with 1-19 employees in the previous month and how that number has changed since the month before. These data insights are available at the national, regional, and sector levels; based on a total sample of almost 66,000 businesses. Typically, the Index will be published several days before Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey is released.

    In the UK, the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index shows the number of job vacancies at small businesses with 1-9 employees in the previous month and how that number has changed since the month before. These data insights are available at the national (UK), country (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland), and sector levels; based on a total sample of almost 25,000 businesses. Typically, the Index will be published around two weeks before the Office for National Statistics’ monthly Vacancy Survey is released.

    The Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index methodology is robust and stands out from other reports in the market by being calibrated against official statistics and focusing exclusively on small businesses while also eliminating publication delays. Unlike other small business indexes, it does not rely exclusively on survey data. Instead, a sample of anonymized QuickBooks Online Payroll records are aggregated and normalized against official government statistics before publication using purpose-built economic models created by Professor Akcigit and his international team of independent economists. This means the Index can provide a near real-time reflection of hiring and employment in the broader small business economy — rather than the QuickBooks customer base — just a few days after small businesses run payroll.

    Visit the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index interactive hub for further insights and to stay up to date on the latest Index releases.

    Ufuk Akcigit is the Arnold C. Harberger Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. He is an elected Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, Center for Economic Policy Research, and the Center for Economic Studies, and a Distinguished Research Fellow at Koc University. He has received a BA in economics at Koc University, 2003, and Ph.D. in economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2009.

    As a macroeconomist, Akcigit’s research centers on economic growth, technological creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, productivity, and firm dynamics. His research has been repeatedly published in the top economics journals, cited by numerous policy reports, and the popular media.

    The contributions of Akcigit’s research has been recognised by the National Science Foundation with the CAREER Grant (NSF's most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty), Kaufmann Foundation's Junior Faculty Grant, and Kiel Institute Excellence Award, among many other institutions. In 2019, Akcigit was named the winner of the Max Plank-Humboldt Research Award (endowed with 1.5 million euros and aimed at scientists with outstanding future potential). In 2021, Akcigit was awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and was named a Fellow of the Econometric Society. In 2022, he received the Sakip Sabanci International Research Award and Kiel Institute’s Global Economy Prize.


  • Assistant Professor Hiring Update – Juan Manuel Castro-Vincenzi

    Assistant Professor Hiring Update – Juan Manuel Castro-Vincenzi

    Portrait of man wearing a suit, tie, and glasses, smilingWe are pleased to announce that Juan Manuel Castro-Vincenzi will be joining the department as an Assistant Professor.

    Castro-Vincenzi is an Economics Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His primary research area is international trade, with macroeconomics and environmental economics as his secondary research areas. Methodologically, Castro-Vincenzi develops structural models of firm behavior accounting for firm-level interdependencies in plant locations and market access.

    He is a highly productive researcher who has already produced several promising papers, including his job market paper, “Climate Hazards and Resilience in the Global Car Industry” in which he develops a framework to study plant location decisions with plants facing capacity constraints and uncertain productivity. His framework can be applied to settings with uncertainty about plant-level productivities.

    Castro-Vincenzi will receive his Ph.D. from Princeton in June 2023 and will join the faculty following one year as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, and one year as a postdoctoral fellow at the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at The University of Chicago.

    His webpage is https://www.castrovincenzi.com/.


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