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Economics 384: Research Project in Economics

The Research Project in Economics is designed to be a capstone research experience for senior Economics majors. This senior-level research project is designed to fulfill these learning goals of researching, writing, and presenting a paper addressing a significant economic question or issue. Each student develops an economic question, which is then analyzed using an appropriate economic framework and evidentiary support. Students are asked to respond to criticisms to make this a wholesome research experience. In a nutshell, you will be "doing economics."!!!

Other upper-level Economics courses were offered to expose students to research opportunities to begin this process. Guided by the professor of record as well as the entire Economics department, students apply their knowledge from previous coursework as they "do economics". The small class size is purposefully kept small so that it permits greater interaction between the professor and each student, as well as more interaction among students.

Combining an Honors Thesis and ECON 384
Students planning to write an Honors thesis should register for HONR 398 in the fall of their senior year.

Students are also expected to attend the class meetings of the ECON 384 course in the fall of their senior year. The ECON 384 models the research process in economics and provides useful deadlines for completing the research project. In addition, if circumstances prevent a student from completing an honors thesis, the student will have completed the work for ECON 384, a necessary requirement for graduating with an economics major.

The department chair will accept the substitution of HONR 398 for ECON 384 when auditing the student's application for degree.

The course prerequisites are:

1. ECON 333 - Macroeconomic Theory
2. ECON 334 - Quantitative Methods in Economics
3. ECON 332 - Microeconomic Theory
4. Coursework in Calculus and Statistics
5. At least one Tier Three course (any ECON course numbered 350 or higher).

Recent Work:
Here are some recent abstracts from the ECON 384 projects:

Crime Rates, Income Inequality, and Density at the Neighborhood Level -

"An economic model of crime can help policy makers understand how income inequality and population density relate to crime on the Census Tract level. Higher levels of income inequality suggest more social tension and higher returns to crime while population density influences the probability of recognition and apprehension of criminals. My cross-sectional Poisson analysis of Los Angeles Census Tracts uses tract-level demographic data comes from the National Neighborhood Crime Study and PUMA-level income data from International Public Use MicroSample database. I find that income inequality, as measured by a Gini Coefficient, and population density both relate negatively and significantly with crime rates." Andrew Hovel (Fall 2013).
Please check out the video: 

An Empirical Analysis on Estimating the Demand for Housing Services:

"This research paper attempts to estimate the demand for housing services across the United States. More specifically, the research paper examines the price and income elasticity of demand and compare the results between a single market and multiple markets. An empirical analysis on 32 Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the year 2005 suggests that the price elasticity of demand for multiple markets is inelastic; and the price elasticity of demand has relatively smaller magnitude in multiple markets compared to corresponding elasticity in a single market. In addition, the income elasticity of demand has a relatively larger magnitude than the price elasticity of demand for multiple markets." By Nhu Nguyen (Fall 2013)
Please check out the video:

Course Timeline:

Typically, the coursework involves these stages:

  1. The research project and selecting a topic - Weeks 1-3
  2. Initial written proposal and faculty review - Weeks 4-5
  3. Expanded written proposal and preliminary bibliography - Weeks 5-6
  4. Researching, research advice and first draft - Weeks 7-8
  5. Small group discussions and practice oral presentations of work-in-progress - Week before the final presentation
  6. Final/formal oral presentation
  7. Final draft - At end of semester, after the final presentation.

Student Research: 

Student: Tiffany Peplinski
Research: How Right-To-Work Legislation Affects State Economies: Oklahoma and Its Neighbors

Abstract: This study considers whether the implementation of a right-to-work law in Oklahoma has impacted the growth of Oklahoma's economy.  Following methods developed by by Dinlersoz and Hernández-Murillo (2002), this research uses a state-by-state regression analysis for the time periods of 1983 to 2000 and 2001 to 2014 to consider the impacts of right-to-work laws on union membership rates, income levels, and changes to state contribution to GDP.  The research finds that right-to-work impacts income and state contribution to GDP.  However, findings differ from prior research in that it does not show that right-to-work laws increase manufacturing growth.  The differences in these results from those in other papers suggest that effects of right-to-work laws may vary by state or context.

Student: Joshua Young
Research: Market Concentration's Effect on Innovation at the Industry Level 

Abstract:  Market concentration's effect on innovation has been analyzed by economists ever since Joseph Schumpeter hypothesized in 1942 that higher market concentration leads to higher levels of innovation. An opposing view also developed over the intervening years that suggested that lower market concentration levels lead to greater levels of innovation.  Using data on patenting, R&D expenditures, BLS estimated multi-factor productivity measures, and industry concentration measures, this research tests which hypothesis holds.  Results indicate that higher concentration tends to reduce innovation - contrary to Schumpeter's hypothesis.

Student: Alexander Stephens
Research: An Empirical Analysis on the Impact of a Professional Sports Team and Stadium on its Host Metropolitan Statistical Area

Abstract: Professional sports in the United States have grown significantly in the past fifty years and with the growth has come an influx of new stadiums and renovations to existing stadiums. This paper uses a regression analysis to determine the impact of stadiums and professional sports teams on the aggregate income of the metropolitan statistical area (MSA). Ten MSA's across the Midwest Region of the United States are analyzed, and the results indicate that the construction or renovation of stadiums as well as the presence of a National Football League franchise have a statistically significant negative impact on personal aggregate income.

Student: Michael Manikowski
Research: Paper, Plastic, Politics, and Policy: An Empirical Analysis of Recycling Rates in Minnesota

Abstract: This study tests the effectiveness of recycling policies in Minnesota and how political ideologies affect recycling behaviors. It uses an ordinary least squares (OLS) regression on recycling and recycling policy data from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and presidential election voting data from the Minnesota Secretary of State. The study found that curbside recycling programs coupled with variable pricing structures for waste disposal services yielded the greatest increases in recycling rates. This study also showed that presidential voting patterns have statistically significant effect on recycling rates, further work and consideration of other socioeconomic variables would be required to conclude that political ideology affected recycling behaviors.