Category: Economics

Job Market Advice II: Interviewing at the Annual Meetings

It’s that time of the year again, when graduate students who are about to enter their final year in economics and related disciplines are getting ready to go on the job market.

Going on the job market is a harrowing experience for most people, however, so I thought I should help job-market candidates by sharing my advice.

This post is the second in a series of three. Today, I’d like to discuss what it’s like to interview at the annual meetings, and how you should prepare for it. The next installment will be posted in late fall and will cover on-campus interviews. Continue reading

Position Announcement: Assistant Professor of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

This position might be of interest to readers of this blog:

Assistant Professor
Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
Department of Applied Economics
University of Minnesota

This position is open to candidates with interests related to environmental and resource economics. Current topics of interest include water resources, air and water quality, land use, fisheries, forestry, biodiversity conservation, climate change, renewable energy, integrated natural science and economic modeling, and the interplay between agriculture and the environment.

Candidates will be expected to demonstrate an ability to carry out the following:

a) Develop a leading nationally and internationally recognized research program related to environmental and resource economics with a strong emphasis in the application of quantitative methods and economic theory to timely and relevant environmental and natural resource topics. Residing in a leading Tier 1 research university, the individual will be expected to develop strong and productive disciplinary and interdisciplinary research programs with our vibrant linkages to programs in the Institute on the Environment, Water Resources, Conservation Biology, School of Public Health, Carlson School of Management, Humphrey Institute on Public Affairs, Academic Health Services (Medical School, College of Veterinary Medicine), Law School, and related departments within the University, as well as our non-governmental, government and business constituents.

b) Teach courses at the graduate and undergraduate level in environmental and natural resource economics, and possibly applied microeconomic theory core courses, quantitative methods courses, and interdisciplinary courses in environmental and resource sciences and management. Develop classes that will fit into the overall teaching needs of the Department of Applied Economics and be consistent with his/her research program.

c) Provide leadership for the department’s programs, engaging in development of teaching and research programs to move the department in innovative, productive and relevant research and educational activities.

d) Develop successful grant proposals and work with interdisciplinary research teams, drawing upon expertise in environmental and natural resource sciences, forestry, agricultural, public health, fisheries and wildlife, ecology, climatology and other areas in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and the broader University, to conduct research and deliver knowledge to a wide range of audiences.


Jay Coggins
(612) 626-5411

For more information on how to apply, click here.

A Theory of Value in “The Swiss Family Robinson”


Much like the content of Monday’s post, this has been in my “to-blog” file ever since I went on sabbatical in Belgium in 2009-2010 and read The Swiss Family Robinson, a book rich in social science content.

The following is from the original 1816 English translation, chapter 18. The emphasis is mine.

As we walked along, Fritz asked me if this handsome shell was of the kind so much valued in Europe for making into boxes, combs, &c.? and if it was not a pity to use it for a water-tub?

I replied that in our deserted situation the utility of a thing formed its greatest, and indeed only value. According to this way of reasoning then, were your water-tub of diamonds, it would be of no more worth to us than the rudest stone, if in such a form as to be able to contain water.

On Farm Subsidies and Quinoa: Yours Truly in the Washington Post

This raises a question: Why are lawmakers so willing to vote for farm subsidies — even lawmakers who usually oppose government spending? …

One theory is that money explains it all. Wealthy agribusinesses are somehow paying off Republicans to vote their way. …

Not everyone’s convinced by this, though. In a recent working paper (pdf), Duke University economist Marc Bellemare and political scientist Nicholas Carnes came up with a better reason for Congress’s ag-subsidy love. Farmers and farm owners have disproportionate political sway in key districts. …

Bellemare tells me that he expected agribusiness lobbying to have the biggest impact on various farm votes before they did the study. But that wasn’t the case. Pressure at the polls turned out to be the key factor.

That’s Brad Plumer on the Washington Post‘s WonkBlog in a post about why Congress supports agriculture. Continue reading

Yours Truly in the Pacific Standard

Nobody likes America’s agricultural policy. Not conservatives, not liberals, and not policy experts, who frequently use terms like “astonishingly irrational” to describe our system of federal subsidies for farming. So why is everyone so angry and shocked that last week’s laden farm bill—comprised of addendums to the same legislative package that Congress has been tagging since 1938—failed in the House of Representatives? Some reports describe a Farm Lobby Goliath smited by a tiny contingent of conservative House GOPers who are hellbent on shrinking the size of government no matter the objections of their fellow Republicans from farm country. But according to a new working paper by Duke economic policy researchers Marc Bellemare and Nick Carnes, it might not have been the all-powerful farm lobby that the House GOP subverted so much as a small contingent of American voters.

From an article by Michael Fitzgerald discussing my most recent working paper in the Pacific Standard, formerly known as Miller-McCune Magazine.

That said, although we find that electoral incentives seem to be the most consistent driver of congressional voting behavior on matters of agricultural protection, we still find evidence that lobbying (via the amount of contributions members of Congress receive from agricultural political action committees) and legislator preferences (via how much of their pre-Congress career the same members of Congress have spent working in agriculture) matter.