E-CONnect Fall 2017

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Letter from the Chair

We have had some noteworthy accomplishments in the Economics Department over the past year, some of which you will read about in this newsletter. We were especially proud of our inaugural team of undergrad students who made it to the finals of the Bank of Canadas Governors Challenge in February.

We were also very proud of the excellent research projects conducted by some of our undergrad students for their senior honours essay (Econ 472). This year one of our students was invited to attend the Canadian Economics Association Conference in May and present her research at the Bank of Canada Undergraduate Research Poster session. Three of our PhD students graduated in 2017 and all have found good jobs. We welcomed five new PhD students this fall as well as 25 masters students.

Provost Ian Orchard with Margaret Insley at convocation

Margaret Insley and Provost Ian Orchard at the Spring 2017 convocation

Last year's newsletter mentioned our reformed undergraduate curriculum which we began implementing in 2016. We are confident that our focus on empirical skills will serve our students well in today's job market. We are carefully monitoring student success and are adjusting these new courses as needed to best meet the needs of our students. Some of our new elective courses are proving to be very popular, including second year courses "Money and Banking" and "Introduction to Game Theory". One of our most popular undergrad courses remains the Economics of Sport, which allows students to see real world applications of the fundamental economics principles learned in their first year courses.

As long time residents of Hagey Hall, the Economics department was delighted at the grand opening of the new Hagey Hub in February. This is a wonderful addition to Hagey Hall which provides much needed space for student interaction and study. If you haven't been to campus recently, you should drop by sometime and have a look. It is a gorgeous space made possible by donations from many individuals and groups, including our friends and alumni.

I look forward to another eventful and successful academic year in the Department of Economics. Please keep in touch with us and let us know how you are using your economics training in your careers.

Professor Margaret Insley
Chair, Economics Department

You're Invited!

hand on barbed wire fence

Waterloo Arts Distinguished Lecture in Economics - September 28, 4:30 p.m.

Economic growth can be extraordinarily rapid in developing countries. But it is often uneven, leaving whole segments of society behind. Such unevenness can serve to both inspire and frustrate, and so lead to social conflict even as overall economic conditions improve. These issues are crucially important in North America and Europe today.

Professor Debraj Ray, the 2017 Waterloo Arts Distinguished Lecturer in Economics, will discuss what we can learn about the uneven-growth/conflict nexus from developing countries, where such issues have never been far from the surface.

Debraj Ray
About the distinguished lecturer

Professor Ray is one of the leading development economists in the world. He has made significant contributions to the economics of coalition formation, altruism, malnutrition, and the role of inequality, polarization and conflict in development. His books include Development Economics (1998) and A Game-Theoretic Perspective on Coalition Formation (2008).

Debraj Ray is Julius Silver Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Science, and Professor of Economics at New York University. He is Co-editor of the American Economic Review and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Econometric Society and a Guggenheim Fellow.

About the Waterloo Arts Distinguished Lecture in Economics

Each year the Department of Economics invites a distinguished scholar to present a lecture on the state of the art in a field of economic research, giving students from various disciplines a special opportunity to enhance their understanding of economics. The University community and members of the public are warmly invited to attend the lectures.

A reception will follow the lecture from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m., in Environment 1(EV1) Courtyard.

Update from the UW Economics Society 

The Economics Societys mission is to provide students with infrastructure and tools for collaborative engagement, support, and learning. We aim to promote interest in Economics throughout the student body. Organizing several academic, social, and networking events (including speaker series, mentorship opportunities, professional development), we bring together academic and industry professionals to facilitate debate. The turbulent geopolitical and economic landscape currently facing Canada and the rest of the world should generate a lively discourse.

students at desks in lecture hall

This year, the society is developing an alumni mentorship network where undergraduate students will be able to reach out and receive advice from professionals and graduate students. This initiative will build a stronger community for Economics students past, present, and future.

We are excited for the upcoming year, we welcome you to contact the Economics Society for feedback or potential involvement opportunities (uw.economics.society@gmail.com)

Sincerely, George Liu and Julie Nguyen , Co-Presidents


Research Highlight: How $15 minimum wage may affect vulnerable groups

five and ten dollar bills

While heated debates continue over Ontario's proposed $15/hour minimum wage, a recent publication by UWaterloo Economics professors Kate Rybczynski and Anindya Sen suggests that rapid increases in the minimum wage could disproportionately affect vulnerable groups in the population.

Kate Rybczynski
Anindya Sen
Tracking provincial data from 1981–2011, Rybczynski and Sen find that a 10% increase in the minimum wage is linked to a 1-4% reduction in employment of male and female teens, and approximately a 2% reduction in employment rates of immigrants aged 25 to 54 years old. The latter should not be surprising since over 19% of recent immigrants earned minimum wage in 2011.

While Rybczynski and Sen agree that minimum wage plays an important role in our economy, their research suggests that additional policies are important to counteract the potential negative employment effects of minimum wage and to
improve living standards for vulnerable groups.

Highlights of the past year: 

Alumni Panel

In January, just ahead of co-op job interviews, we invited a panel of our Economics Alumni to talk about their career paths and offer job-market advice to our Undergraduate and Graduate students. The panel featured

Fiona Chan - Revenue Policy Advisor at York Region, Shan Chen - Manager Enterprise Model Risk Management at Royal Bank of Canada, Brent Mizzen - AVP, Underwriting and Policy at Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc., Carla Valerio Pena - Economist at the Bank of Canada, Pirapa Tharmalingam - Consultant at Enbridge and Sessional at UW-ECON, and Rosalie Wyonch - Policy Analyst at C.D. Howe Institute.

In a very lively discussion our panelists provided important advice for current students including: branding and making your own pathway, learning from and turning "mistakes" into opportunities, work-life balance, critical components for C.V.s and job interviews, and navigating the diverse challenges (and rewards) of policy work.

Distinguished Lecture in Economics, Fall 2016

Last year's distinguished lecture, given by David Autor (Ford Professor of Economics at MIT), was a highly successful and thought provoking event. Professor Autor's talk, Why are there still so many jobs? The History and Future of Workplace Automation, took us through three technological revolutions, contextualized automation anxiety, and explains why employment continued to rise despite all the technology designed to replace human work.

Missed the talk? Watch the video on YouTube:

Remote video URL

We're proud of UW Econ!

Bank of Canada Governor's Challenge

students in a row
University of Waterloo undergraduate students made it to the final competition of the second annual Bank of Canada’s Governor’s Challenge this year.  Waterloo’s team was one of 5 selected to participate in the final round of competition, out of an initial 24 teams. 

Our team included Stephen Chen, Tiago Figueiredo, Saad Khan, Emily Li, George Liu, Matthew Robert, and Eric Tichbourn, and was coached by Professor Jean-Paul Lam.

Our team performed admirably, and we are very proud! We also offer many congratulations to McGill Economics, winners of this year's trophy!
For more information see the Bank of Canada's official release.

51st Annual Canadian Economics Association Conference

Heather Bone
Economics student Heather Bone was invited to attend the 51st annual Canadian Economics Association Conference in June 2017. Heather was selected as one of twelve undergraduate students to present her research at the Bank of Canada Undergraduate Research Poster Session for the Canadian Economics Association Conference. Heather's research is policy driven, and her presentation (developed from her senior honour's essay) explored the impact of Quebec’s day care subsidy on absenteeism. We are very proud and excited for Heather as she embarks on graduate studies at the University of Toronto this fall. Read the full story.

Warrior Spirit

Mary Ann Vaughan and two hockey players
Our very own Mary Ann Vaughan starts this year's UW Alumni Blog with a bang.  "The Professor and the Hockey Team" highlights the evolution of her support of the UW Warriors. Starting out as a fan, becoming involved in fundraising initiatives, adopting players through the Adopt-A-Warrior program, and most recently setting up the Mary Ann Vaughan Athletics Excellence Award for Men's Hockey that is awarded to a University of Waterloo hockey player each year. 

We are very proud and grateful to have Mary Ann in our faculty, supporting our students and our Warriors!

Congratulations to our top students of 2016-2017!

Undergraduate Awards

Department Award Recipient (top GPA):
Christine Varga

2+2 Achievement Award Recipients * (top GPA):
Yalin Song, Siqi Sun

Senior Honours Essay Award Recipient * (best essay):
Catherine MacIsaac "Making Lemonade: Evaluating the Impact of Changing Legal Regimes on Violence in the Prostitution Market."

Economics Achievement Award Winners* (highest GPAs):
Matthew Keller, Connor Kendel, Yukiko Kitayama, Rebecca Wan-Ling Kong, Huy Gia Le, Catherine MacIsaac, Yalin Song, Siqi Sun, Christine Varga

Graduate Awards

MA Micro Award
Colin Wallace

MA Macro Award
Xin Li

MA Econometrics Award
Aidi Yu

Ken Stollery Memorial Graduate Award
Allison Mascella

* These awards include a financial prize which is supported by alumni contributions to the Department of Economics. Thank you for your contributions. 

Have a look at Spring 2017 Convocation photos. Check out the graduate student dinner.

Want to Connect?

  • Have exciting news to share? We'd love to hear what you are up to!
  • Interested in giving a talk? Each year we invite a UW Economics alumnus to inspire and inform our students.
  • Want to be involved in networking or economic events? Let us know.
  • Want to donate? Your contributions help fund awards and lectures that benefit student

We'd love to hear from you. To connect, please email Margaret Insley. To donate, please contact Kim Bardwell or donate online.

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