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Welcoming New Researchers to Our Team!

We are pleased to announce the addition of 31 new research members to CIREQ. Their arrival further strengthens our commitment to promoting research in various areas of economics and related social sciences, aiming for a deeper understanding of the economy and the challenges of economic growth. We warmly welcome our new members and look forward to their valuable contributions towards advancing our research endeavors. To discover CIREQ's newest members, please follow the link provided here.

upcoming conferences and workshops

Interdisciplinary Events 2021-2024

Conferences, Workshops and Roundtables

26 April 2024 from 9am to 5pm (CIRANO)
Redistribution and Fiscal Policies
28 October 2022, 10:30 - 12:00
Economics and Computation
22 October 2022 (ITHQ)

Highlights from RECENT events

This conference was held in honor of Professor Eric Ghysels, whose work has been influential in the field of econometrics. In this two-day conference, 33 researchers from Canada, the US, and Europe have presented state-of-the-art results on important topics in econometrics. This included two presentations by Nobel Laureates: Robert Engle and Lars Hansen.

The main themes of the conference were: (a) forecasting, (b) mixed frequency data analysis, (c) volatility and financial modeling, and (d) the method of moments and instrumental variables.

This event was a big success, drawing an audience of approximately 80 professors and students.

The interdisciplinary workshop brought together more than 80 registered participants from a variety of fields: economics, computer science, philosophy, sociology and business, many of them students. In a lively exchange of ideas, important topics, such as the current advances and future directions of Artificial Intelligence, in particular natural language models, their implementation in the economy, their impact on the workforce and on social well-being as well as the position of Canada and Quebec with respect to the development and implementation of the new technologies, were discussed and debated. The featured speakers and panel included Jackie Cheung, the Canada CIFAR AI chair, co-director of the Reasoning and Learning lab at McGill as well as the Mila Quebec AI Institute; Avi Goldfarb, the Rothman Chair in AI and Healthcare at University of Toronto and Chief Data scientist at the Creative Destruction lab, a co-author of the influential book “Prediction Machines: the simple economics of AI”; Remi Duquette, Industrial AI Vice-President of Maya HTT,  who is instrumental in successful implementation of AI and machine learning in industrial projects including several orbiting satellites; Jocelyn Maclure, Steven A. Jarislowsky chair on Human Nature and Technology at McGill, a well-known public ethicist and philosopher and the current president of the Quebec Ethics in Science and Technology Commission.

The workshop featured six speakers from sociology and economics. Kristen Harknett (U. of California, San Francisco, Sociology) examined the disruptive impact of precarious work conditions on family formation, cohabitation and marital stability using data from the NLS and the Shift Project. The Shift Project data set contains detailed information on work scheduling alongside reports on parenting behaviors from 2016 to 2019 at 129 of the largest retail and food service firms in the U.S.

Lisa Dettling (Federal Reserve Board) and Melissa Kearney examined the link between fertility, income, unemployment, and employment insurance (UI). They find that on average babies born in recessions are healthier, but that infant health is negatively affected by the mother’s unemployment rate when they are in utero. UI more than offset the negative effects coming from the loss of income due to unemployment. UI would have to be 70-80% of the income to erase the negative effect on infant health. These effects are stronger earlier in the pregnancy.

Joshua Lewis (U.de Montréal, economics), Andriana Bellou and Emanuela Cardia examined the impact of the Great Depression on fertility changes between the 1930s and 1960s. Young women decreased fertility during the 1930s and entered the labor market in large numbers. They remained or re-entered in the labor markets throughout the 1950s reducing opportunities for young women, thus contributing to the baby boom. Their retirement created new opportunities and contributed to the subsequent baby bust.

Jessamyn Schaller (Claremont McKenna College, Economics and Finance) and Kasey Buckles examined cross-country evidence between 1990 and 2021 on the association between employment and declining fertility outcomes.

Brauner-Otto (McGill, Sociology) and Stone investigated the motherhood penalty in Nepal. Work History Calendars collected as part of the Chitwan Valley Family Study yield longitudinal data that allow for rigorous examination of whether childbearing disrupts women’s employment. This is the first such study in a low-income context. Analyses revealed that women in rural Nepal experience a motherhood penalty of roughly 20-30%, much greater than estimates based on cross-sectional data. This penalty is driven by women working in salaried jobs and does not appear for those working in low-skill, wage labour agricultural jobs. The largest penalties are seen for employment rates, but more moderate penalties do exist for work intensity.

Finally, Monica Grant (U.of Wisconsin-Madison, Sociology) presented evidence on fertility intentions and uncertainty using survey data from rural Malawi. Malawi presents some of the most erratic rainfall contexts, with 70% of the population relying on rain-fed subsistence agriculture. Between 1990 and 2022, the region experienced a drastic decline in fertility, from 6.7% in 1990 to 4.4 in 2015 and to a projected 3.98 in 2022. Monica examined how rainfall fluctuations, environmental uncertainty and the Idai cyclone affected fertility. Using Malawi demographic data between 2000 and 2015, rainfall data and 65 interviews in 2019, she finds that after the cyclone Idai (March 2019) almost all respondents reported crop loss and 90% of respondents said that they used modern contraception. In response to these drastic climatic changes, families increased the spacing among children and reduced family size. 

The workshop organized by CIREQ on November 16th, 2023, focused on the evolution of work, wages and labor market power in the last few decades, and in particular in the years following the Covid 19 pandemic. The invited panelists, Ioana Marinescu and Jamie McCallum, experts in economics and sociology, respectively, shared their views on shifting labour market power, the fall and rise of unions, and the interplay of labor market participation, employment opportunities, and wages.

Marinescu highlighted how after the pandemic, the labor market appears to have changed significantly, as much stronger wage growth in medium- and low-wage jobs reduced part of the increase in inequality observed over the previous decades. McCallum pointed to recent occasions where unions achieved substantial wage gains, in particular in the US auto sector, with spillovers to non-unionized firms in the sector. An important factor consists in still low unemployment rates, which imply that firms have less scope to hire unemployed workers, and compete more actively for those already employed.

The discussion then moved on to consider concrete policies. Marinescu stressed the importance of the proposed new US merger guidelines, which propose to consider the anticompetitive effects of mergers not only in product markets but also in labor markets. McCallum pointed out that workers’ current labor market power also benefits from expanded welfare programs during the pandemic, which bolstered savings and potentially raised reservation wages. There remains an active debate on how long the effects of these policies will last.

The workshop concluded with a Q&A session, in which Marinescu and McCallum replied to audience questions on changes in the size structure of firms, employment rates, and on what drives unions’ ambition in bargaining. Overall, the event stressed recent changes in labor market dynamics, as well as several driving factors.

The Roundtable organized by CIREQ on November 10th, 2023, focused on the multifaceted challenges posed by aging populations. Gustavo Ventura and Kevin Munger, experts in economics and political science, respectively, led the discussions. The panel explored the economic and political ramifications of demographic shifts, emphasizing the sustainability of pension systems and broader socio-economic impacts. 

Ventura provided an economic perspective, highlighting the strain on Social Security and Medicare in the US due to the decreasing ratio of working-age population to retirees. He discussed potential policy solutions, such as pension reform, increased taxation, and more open immigration policies. Munger contributed insights into the political landscape, highlighting the disproportionate influence of the older generation in politics, through office holding, voting patterns, and campaign contributions. He stressed challenges to reforms due to the entrenched political power of the Boomer generation.
 
In discussing feasible policy reforms, the panelists agreed that the current political climate complicates addressing these issues. Ventura pointed out the general reluctance of both major political parties in the US to tackle Social Security and Medicare reforms. Munger emphasized the generational divide in political representation and its implications for policy decisions.
The Roundtable concluded with a Q&A session, where Ventura and Munger addressed audience queries on taxation strategies, the financial adequacy of boomer savings, and the lack of youth activism in political processes. Overall, the event put in relief the great economic and political challenges of aging populations and the constraints in implementing effective policy solutions.

 

This multidisciplinary workshop in law and in economics gathered more than 60 students, researchers and professionals interested in competition in the Canadian telecommunications industry. The first presentations offered an analysis of the recent acquisition of Shaw by Rogers. They compared this transaction with other examples of mergers between mobile network operators recently approved or blocked elsewhere in the world. These analyses also shed light on some limitations of the Competition Act and the merger review process in Canada. Modifications aiming at alleviating these shortcomings have been discussed. The following presentations summarized econometric studies of the competition between mobile telecommunication firms at three levels: spectrum auctions, investment in networks and plans offered to consumers. Finally, to draw more connections between academic research and practice, the last presentation of the workshop described the role played by the Competition Bureau during recent Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) hearings related to the state of competition in this industry.

Technological change has been shaping the future of work in profound ways. Recent technologies not only transform industries but also redefine the nature of employment. In this evolving landscape, it is important to understand the interaction between technological change and the labor market more than ever. This conference has combined recent studies on the causes and the consequences of technological change, with a special focus on its relation to the labor market. 

The topics covered included recent findings on the relationship between capital deepening and structural reallocation across sectors and occupations, and the role of within-firm labor reallocation across establishments for the slowdown in business dynamism. Some papers have highlighted the sub-optimality of decentralized innovation, one suggesting that the lack of consumption-smoothing devices for displaced workers calls for policies that slow down the speed of innovation, and another calling for R&D policies that target more efficient and innovative firms. Novel evidence was also presented on the extent to which large firms use patents to protect their businesses, and on micro-level estimates of the complementarity between labor skills and physical capital. The keynote lecture covered how firms’ patenting activities shape the income distribution of workers, and discussed new methods using ChatGPT to identify patents related to routine- and non-routine activities within occupations.

Economic theory has been rapidly advancing in a number of directions in recent years. From developing a framework to compare human and algorithmic agents, to obtaining a sharper characterization of the role played by information in economic interactions, the range is broad, and the topics are important. The conference brought together junior researchers working at the research frontier. The day began with a means to compare two sources of information from an agent’s perspective who may possess a third source that is correlated with the first two. A characterization of how much private information a buyer would want a seller to possess followed. The next session featured exciting new work on model misspecification, as well as a new look at the classical Coase conjecture through a reputational model of bargaining. Post lunch we learned about the implications of agents interacting across multiple games followed by a comparison of human and algorithmic evaluators. The final session started with a careful study of the use of quotas in mechanism design problems and ended with a characterization of the remarkable power of the agenda setter in the legislature.

We are extremely happy that Enrico Moretti accepted our invitation to give the keynote lecture in the CIREQ Applied Economics Conference. Enrico is the Michael R. Peevey and Donald Vial Professor of Economics at Berkeley. His research career has been broad and prolific, touching most areas of labor economics. Enrico’s early work deepened our understanding of human capital externalities, leading organically to three areas of his research, that of agglomeration economies, peer effects, and place-based policies. Alongside his groundbreaking work on externalities, Enrico Moretti has also written papers in diverse topics such as party vs voter preference in determining the roll-call votes of elected representatives, the intergenerational transmission of human capital, the impact of compulsory education on political participation and crime, the consequences of pollution for health, the role of children’s gender in household formation, among many other topics. He has received several awards including the Carlos Alberto Award, the prestigious Rosen Prize from the Society of Labor Economists as well as the William Bowen Prize for his book “The Geography of New Jobs”.

Together with Enrico Moretti’s fascinating keynote lecture on the role of city size in determining labor market outcomes, the conference was composed of a fantastic line up of speakers. In the first day, Fernand Rojas Ampuero (Center for International Affairs, Harvard University) discussed and presented the long run negative effects on children of displacing lower income families from slums into social housing. Her research showed how these displacements led to worse outcomes such as education and employment that persisted well into adult life of the children. In the same day, Heather Sarsons (Vancouver School of Economics, UBC) analyzed how taking into account consumer preferences for fairness in goods production can reconcile different contradictory findings of the effect of minimum wages on labor markets. In the second day, we were pleased to have Winne van Dijk (Yale University) who highlighted how a right to counsel law for tenants in New York led to unintended large increases in rents. Also in the second day, Lorenzo Lagos (Brown University) analyzed the important question of making the workplace more gender balanced with better amenities such as childcare facilities. His findings point to the important role of unions in achieving these goals.

The conference was finished by an exquisite lunch prepared by the staff at ITHQ.

This interdisciplinary workshop was dedicated to the memory of Anthony Alfred John (“Tony”) Marley, a long-time member of the McGill Psychology Department and CIREQ, who died June 14, 2021. An early student of Duncan Luce, Tony played a foundational role in the development of mathematical psychology; and, more specifically, to the development of some influential statistical models of decision-making. Among other things, Tony played an instrumental role in developing the multinomial logit, showing (with Holman) that the model admits a simple parameterization in terms of the double exponential distribution. Thanks to McFadden, that model eventually became the workhorse for empirical work in discrete choice, being used to test theories in a wide variety of applications ranging from models of sensory stimulus processing in psychology to models of consumer choice in industrial organization.

The workshop featured eight speakers from several different fields, ranging from psychology and decision theory to econometrics, neuro-economics, industrial organization, and even machine learning. The diversity of the invited speakers is a testament to Tony’s eclectic research interests and the very broad academic influence of his work.

Many of the speakers presented research that was not only deeply influenced by Tony’s academic research, but also shaped by his generous spirit. The proceedings were bookended by two of Tony’s long-time collaborators, Mike Regenwetter (psychologyU. Illinois Urbana-Champaignand Bill McCausland (economics, UdeM-CIREQ), who punctuated their presentations with heart-felt personal anecdotes. Many of the speakers in between followed suit: Ryan Webb (Marketing, Rotman School of Management, U.Toronto), Roy Allen (economics, U. Western Ontario), Ian Krajbich (psychology, UCLA), and Sean Horan (economics, UdeM-CIREQ) all reminisced warmly about the important mentorship role that Tony played early in their careers.

While it is perhaps too soon to tell, we are hopeful that the connections made at the workshop among researchers from different fields will ultimately lead to fruitful interdisciplinary research collaborations in the future.

In this one-and-a-half-day conference, 27 researchers from Canada, the US, and Europe have presented state-of-art results on important topics in econometrics.

One of the central themes was causal inference, with a particular focus on the advancements made in difference-in-difference techniques over the past few years. In the field of macroeconomics, interests focused on how the economy react to various shocks, such as wars or changes in monetary policy. Impulse response functions are a valuable tool for studying the impact of these shocks. Moreover, some of the presentations leveraged recent advances in machine learning to offer guidance in economic policy.

Several PhD students and post-doctorate fellows presented in the poster session. This event was a big success, drawing an audience of approximately 70 professors and students.

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