Campus to host economic research conference

Emma Collins

Economists from around Kentucky will gather at WKU to present their research at the 2017 Kentucky Economic Association Conference Friday.

The conference provides an opportunity for economists to share their research with their peers and to give and receive feedback. Cathy Carey, department chair of economics, said participants in the program will be a mix of professionals, academics and students, with representatives from several public and private universities in the state.

“It’s one of my favorite events of the year,” Carey said.

Carey said business economists, academic economists and government economists will all be present at the conference. Some graduate and undergraduate students will also present their research. She said students who present will be able to receive feedback that can improve the research they have conducted.

“It’s a valuable experience for them,” Carey said.

Jacob Applin is a WKU graduate student from Franklin who will be presenting his research at the conference. Applin said he wants to pursue a career in academia, and presenting at the conference will enhance his resume. He said the conference will also expose him to other research.

“It gives me ideas of how to go about future papers I write and future research I do,” Applin said.

Applin’s paper focuses on video games and review embargoes. Applin said the idea for the paper came from his senior honor’s thesis at Murray State University, where he completed his undergraduate work. He said his mentor, David Eaton from Murray State University, encouraged Applin to present his research at the conference. Applin said the opportunity will allow him to “better myself for when I do something in the future”

The research presented at the conference covers a variety of topics, from the effects of eliminating the penny in Canada to climate change in the U.S. beef market.

Christopher Bollinger, the president of the Kentucky Economics Association, said the presenters are grouped into groups of three, and each person has 15 minutes to present the “short-infomercial version” of the research. Each presentation will be followed by a few comments from an attendee who is familiar with the research.

The research presentations will be from 8:30 a.m. to 12:25 p.m.

The conference will also include the presentation of the 2017 Kentucky Distinguished Economist award to Kathryn Anderson, who will also be a speaker at the event. Anderson was born in Kentucky and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky and her Ph.D. from North Carolina State University, according to her biography in the conference’s program.

Anderson has worked at Vanderbilt University as a professor and the director of the graduate program in economic development. She is a labor economist who has researched the effects economic transitions have on households in Central Asia.

A panel discussion on tax reform will happen after Anderson has spoken.

Bollinger said tax reform was chosen as the discussion topic because of its relevance to Kentucky. He said discussions about taxes have been ongoing for years, and economists have ideas about potential solutions. He said the budget shortfall and the underfunded pension system also make the topic relevant.

The panelists will include two economists, William Hoyt from the University of Kentucky and Frank O’Connor from Eastern Kentucky University as well as Jim DeCesare, the state representative for House District 17 in Warren County. DeCesare is the co-chair of the House Economic Development and Workforce Investment Committee.

Alex Lebedinsky, the conference chair and an associate professor of economics at WKU, said he thinks this is the first time the conference has been hosted by WKU. He said the conference has usually been held in Lexington or Frankfort and said the decision was made to move the conference around the state to try to pull participants from other areas in Kentucky.

He said the conference will also provide a chance to showcase WKU. He said many of the participants may not be familiar with WKU, and those who are familiar with it may not have seen the campus in recent years.

“This is going to be a good opportunity to increase the profile of our university across the state,” Lebedinsky said.

Reporter Emma Collins can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].