Students engage in scholarly exchange on economic policy during Eastern Economic Association conference

A group of seven Elon economics students presented and discussed research during the association’s annual conference.

Seven Martha and Spencer Love School of Business students presented their senior theses research at the Eastern Economic Association annual conference, held Feb. 28 to March 1 in Boston.

Female student stands in front of seated audience
Colleen Judge ’20 (mentor: Casey DiRienzo) presents research on whether a natural disaster impacts the number of human trafficking victims reported in a country.

Economics majors Bailee Castillo ‘20, Colleen Judge ‘20, Kelly Mahoney ‘20, Jacob Stern ‘20, Francesco Storm ‘20, Marina Thornton ‘20 and Caitlin Wynn ‘20 participated in the conference as session chairs, presenters and paper discussants.

The Elon papers presented were:

  • “A Dam Problem: Investigating the Impact of Dams on Economic Development”
    Bailee Castillo (mentor: Tonmoy Islam)
  • “Natural Disasters and Human Trafficking Reporting”
    Colleen Judge (mentor: Casey DiRienzo)
  • “The Effects of Parent Incarceration on their Child’s Potential for Success”
    Kelly Mahoney (mentor: Steve Bednar)
  • “The Effect of New School Openings on Achievement in Pre-existing Schools: Evidence from Wake County, NC”
    Jacob Stern (mentor: Katy Rouse)
  • “Endogenous Capital Concentration: An Analysis of Productivity and Growth”
    Francesco Storm (mentor: Brandon Sheridan)
  • “Health Insurance and Individual Labor Supply Decisions”
    Marina Thornton (mentor: Mark Kurt)
  • “Contraceptive access and female labor supply: Evidence from Indonesia”
    Caitlin Wynn (mentor: Steve DeLoach)
Man standing pointing to a graph on a screen.
Francesco Storm ’20 (mentor: Brandon Sheridan) discusses the degree to which the physical to human captial ratio indicates growth patterns for more than 100 countries during 1960-2019.

Since fall 2019, the economics majors worked under the guidance of Department of Economics faculty mentors to address a complex economic problem of their choosing. The students will defend their theses in April 2020.

“Presenting at the Eastern Economic Association Conference was an extremely rewarding experience because we got the chance to communicate our findings on the research that we’ve been working on since September,” said Thornton, who is from Pennsylvania.

Fifty-three students from 20 colleges and universities throughout the country participated in the conference’s 10 undergraduate sessions. Participants came from institutions such as American University, Miami University, Smith College, Bryant University, St. Lawrence University, Furman University, Belmont University, College of Wooster, Austin College and Western Carolina University.

The sessions offered students the opportunity to receive feedback on their papers, as well as provide feedback to other presenters.

Female student standing at a lectern
Bailee Castillo ’20 (mentor: Tonmoy Islam) explores if the overall economic health of an area improves or diminishes after a dam is constructed.

“I enjoyed being able to present my thesis to outside parties because their questions opened my eyes to gaps in my research,” said Castillo, an Honors Fellow from Florida. “I believe the feedback I received will strengthen my paper, and I am looking forward to making edits in the upcoming weeks.”

For the 27th consecutive year, the undergraduate sessions were sponsored by Issues in Political Economy (IPE), the leading undergraduate research journal in economics. The journal is co-edited by Elon University and the University of Mary Washington, and is the oldest continually-published journal of undergraduate research in economics. Steve DeLoach, Martha and Spencer Love Professor, serves as the journal’s faculty co-advisor.