Overcoming egocentricity increases self-control
2016-10-20: Neurobiological models of self-control usually focus on brain mechanisms involved in impulse control and emotion regulation. Recent research published in«Science Advances» by Alexander Soutschek, Christian Ruff and Philip Tobler shows that the mechanism for overcoming egocentricity also facilitates self-control. This opens up new possibilities for therapeutic interventions.
Changing Cultural Attitudes on Female Genital Cutting through Entertainment
2016-10-13: Female Genital Cutting (FGC) constitutes a serious health risk for millions of girls and women but remains prevalent in many areas of the world. In a recent paper published in «Nature», Sonja Vogt, Charles Efferson and Ernst Fehr found a promising approach to change attitudes within cutting communities. In their study they produced fictional movies including a subplot about a family in the process of discussing whether to have their daughters cut. The results show that the movies had a positive influence on attitudes towards uncut girls and therefore repeated exposure to similar movies could be a discreet but effective intervention to reduce female genital cutting.
Podcast Interview with the Authors
NZZ Article (German)
SRF - Wissenschaftsmagazin (German)
Integrating people into the process of production
2016-10-05: Josef Falkinger, Professor Emeritus, answers some of the big economic questions in the current edition of "Perspektiven der Wissenschaft". Depending on the vantage point one takes when viewing economic reality, different aspects come into focus while others dissolve, he argues. This becomes apparent in the basic definition of wealth: Looking at it from a production and productivity point of view leads to very different inferences than seeing it as an asset, which simply wants to be acquired. These vantage points directly define major decisions regarding state involvement, justice and redistribution and therefore call for conscious awareness.
The breadth of the topics covered and the wisdom of an emeritus makes this a very recommendable read.
Read the interview here (in German)
Department of Economics continues to grow
2016-10-02: The "NZZ am Sonntag" interviews Ernst Fehr on the growth the of the Department of Economics and the competitive environment Universities find themselves in to get the best scientists on board. With the support of the the UBS Center the Department has appointed 7 new professors and has proved that it can meet several US elite universities at eye level when it comes to recruiting the best talents.
Read the Article (PDF, 112 KB) (in German)
Press Release (PDF, 137 KB) (in English)
Keeping up with the Joneses and private bankruptcy
2016-09-28: Does the positive effect of social comparison outweigh its downside? Can the resulting higher collective economic performance make up for costs of individual unhappiness, overconsumption and private bankruptcy? In his current column in the «Finanz und Wirtschaft», Joachim Voth presents insights pointing to the real costs of conspicuous consumption in the wider society. He argues, that, just as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regulated the arms race, progressive and luxury-item taxation could take the heat out of the consumption race in an increasingly unequal world.
From Womb to Work
2016-09-28: In today's edition of the NZZ Hannes Schwandt argues how a person's long-term success and income is affected by their mother's health during pregnancy and birth weight, pointing to the positive effect of health interventions (e.g. the flu-jab) during pregnancy. He points to the opportunities of having such data available and the untapped potential within Switzerland to be able track the success of interventions and improve health during this key time of a person's life.
Growing and Slowing Down like China
2016-09-27: During the recent European Economic Association's 2016 Congress in Geneva, Fabrizio Zilibotti (President of the EEA) held the presidential address, presenting his research on the the growth and current slowdown of the Chinese economy. In this succinct piece, Professor Zilibotti explains how China managed to grow at the speed it has in the past and which big policy challenges now lie ahead.
Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman on the future of the European Monetary Union
2016-09-27: Last Thursday – 70 years after Winston Churchill’s historical speech on Europe that took place in the aula at the University of Zurich - Paul Krugman talked about the future of Europe with a focus on fiscal and monetary policies and the European Monetary Union. Krugman’s lecture which was hosted by the UBS Center attracted over 600 people and received considerable media attention. If you missed the speech, you can watch the whole lecture on YouTube.
Teaching Macroeconomics in Changing Times
2016-09-26: Prof Hoffmann explains how the new economic reality makes its way into teaching macroeconomic theory at the department of economics in a recent arcticle in the Handelszeitung. A lot is being written on the influence of financial markets at the moment, however, he concludes, these have not yet led to a new standard model ready to be incorportated into a curriculum. In the mean-time, he notes, there has been a change in the way macroeconomics is taught: Absolutes and dogmatic views are giving way for a discussion allowing for more focus on historical comparisons.
The Automation of Work
2016-09-14: In a recent article in Finanz und Wirtschaft, Prof Dorn takes a look at the history of automation in the workplace: the fears that machines would make human work obsolete, especially in low paid industries, has accompanied automation since its beginnings.The current phase of automation is affecting middle-income jobs, leading to an increasing income gap. Humans still outdo computers in tasks requiring creativity, decisionmaking and problemsolving skills (which remain highly paid) and lower product prices lead to more demand for personal services, creating jobs at the bottom end of the income scale.
China becoming an innovation driven economy
2016-09-12: In a recent interview for China’s largest Newspaper «People’s Daily», Fabrizio Zilibotti explains how China is now standing at a historical point in time, moving from an investment and export driven to an innovation driven economy. China’s investments into R&D in relation to its GDP are at a similar level as within the EU, pushing forward the innovation based growth strategy. Professor Zilibotti continues recommending further steps: eliminating entry barriers and breaking up monopolies, loosening financing restrictions for SMEs and further investment into building high-tech industrial parks.
Read the article (in Chinese)
Josef Zweimüller succeeds Armin Schmutzler as Deputy Dean
2016-09-01: As of September 1st, Josef Zweimüller will serve as the Deputy Dean for the Faculty of Business, Economics and Informatics. He is the successor of Armin Schmutzler who held the position from 2014 to 2016. The Department would like to thank Prof. Schmutzler for his work and dedication during his years in office and congratulates Prof. Zweimüller on his new role.
New Faculty Members
Prof. Lorenzo Casaburi
Lorenzo Casaburi has been appointed Assistant Professor in Development Economics. Before he joined the Department of Economics, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR). His research focuses on two main agendas in Development Economics: agricultural markets in Sub-Saharan Africa and state capacity, with an emphasis on tax enforcement.
Prof. Damian Kozbur
Damian Kozbur was appointed Assistant Professor of Econometrics and joined the Department on August 1st. Damian Kozbur holds a PhD in Econometrics and Statistics from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Before joining the Department of Economics, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Law and Economics at ETH Zurich. His research focuses on inference in high dimensional econometric models, big data and the applications of econometrics in development.
Prof. Dina Pomeranz
Dina D. Pomeranz was appointed Assistant Professor in Microeconomics, starting September 2017, and is a visiting professor at the Department since August 1. Before joining the Department she held a position as Assistant Professor at the Harvard Business School. Her research focuses on public policies towards firms and entrepreneurs in developing countries. She has conducted large-scale randomized field experiments on tax evasion by firms and the determinants and impacts of formal savings for low-income micro-entrepreneurs.
Prof. Guilherme Lichand
Guilherme Lichand has been appointed Assistant Professor for Child Well-Being and Development. Before joining the Department of Economics, he obtained his
PhD in Political Economy and Government at Harvard University. His research interests lie at the intersection of Development Economics, Political Economy, and Behavioral
David Yanagizawa-Drott has been appointed Professor for Development and Emerging Markets. Before working for the University of Zurich, he was an Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. His research interests include economic development and political economy, with special focus on civil conflict, health, information and mass media.
As of January 1st, 2017, two further professors will be joining us
Prof. Ralph Ossa has been appointed to the Professorship in Economics of Globalization and Emerging Markets, endowed by the UBS Center, per January 1, 2017. Professor Ossa is currently Associate Professor of Economics and Neubauer Family Faculty Fellow at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. His research focuses on international trade, economic geography, and economic development.
Prof. Florian Scheuer has been appointed to the Professorship in Economics of Institutions, endowed by the UBS Center, per January 1, 2017. Professor Scheuer is currently Assistant Professor at Stanford University and has been a visiting assistant professor at Harvard University and UC Berkeley. His research focuses on public finance, taxation, competitive markets, and game theory.