The Economics Department

Economics Honors Symposium 2014

Wed, April 23, 2014 | CLA 1.302E

5:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Omicron Delta Epsilon (ODE) and the Department of Economics present the Economics Honors Symposium this Wednesday, April 23rd from 5:30-7pm and 7:15-8:30pm at the Julius Glickman Conference Center in CLA 1.302E. Honors students will be presenting their senior theses and undergraduate research. Visit for more details. The agenda is as follows.

Spring 2014

University of Texas at Austin

Economics Honors/Research Symposium

Wednesday, April 23rd in CLA 1.302E


Chairperson:  Kelsey Sawyer

5:30-6:00 p.m.

Nina Le                       Energy-Saving Technical Change and Economic Growth

Departmental Honors in Economics Thesis, Spring 2014                                                 

Faculty Advisor: Matthias Kehrig

The research in Nina’s thesis is regarding how economic growth is impacted by various energy parameters and variables. Long-run economic growth can be studied in various growth models such as the Ramsey-Cass-Koopmans growth model, which explains the long-run growth in the economy with technological improvements. As developing countries become more industrialized and developed, they may require more energy hence the availability of energy could foster or hamper economic growth. The observations have led her to explore the extent to which energy usage affects the path towards convergence. She will be modifying the Ramsey-Cass-Koopmans Model and adding in energy consumption as an additional production factor in the model. This model will help explain how energy consumption affects when a country reaches the steady state. Using the modified output production function, sheI analyzed how they affect the convergence to and behavior in and around steady state.

Discussant: Crystal Luviano


6:00-6:30 p.m.

David Oh                    The Gift of Salvation                                                     

Departmental Honors in Economics Thesis, Spring 2014                                                                 
Faculty Advisor: Stephen Trejo

David seeks to contribute to the recent growth in the economics of religion by expanding on the model of household utility founded by Azzi and Ehrenberg (1975). His utility model distinguishes itself from that of Azzi and Ehrenberg by allowing the level of salvific merit of each religion to have an effect on individual's utility maximizing decision. Empirically, David tests his model using the data from the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP).

Discussant: Angie Acquatella

6:30-7:00 p.m.

Taili Huang                 An Agent Based Model Approach to Analyzing Deadly Pandemics

2014 Jain Award for Best Computational Economics Paper                                                          
Faculty Advisor: David Kendrick

With the increasing popularity of agent based models (ABM), this paper will propose an ABM built in Matlab to simulate an outbreak of a deadly influenza virus. This model shares some similar characteristics with the susceptible-infected-recovered (SIR) model built by McKendrick and Kermack but also incorporates the effects of the non-homogenous demographic characteristics and population density. This model is then used to test the effects of a few public health policies and the findings are mostly consistent from common sense.

Discussant: TBD


BREAK 7:00-7:15 p.m.



7:15-7:45 p.m.

Christina Kent                        Measuring the Impact of Home Internet Access on Educational Outcomes

Departmental Honors in Economics Thesis, Spring 2014                                                                 
Faculty Advisor: Stephen Trejo

While test scores for Hispanic students have increased since the 1990s, these students are still falling behind in educational achievement compared to their non-Hispanic White peers. In addition to a wide education gap between these two groups, there also exists a persistent technology access and connectedness gap between Hispanics and Whites. Using an OLS regression model, Christina shows that lower rates of home internet access for Hispanic youth contributes to the gap in educational outcomes relative to non-Hispanic Whites.

Discussant: Suhith Shivani


7:45-8:15 p.m.

Michael Lee                Efficient Pricing of Carbon in The EU and its Effect on Consumers 

Published in “The Developing Economist”                                                                                              Faculty Advisor: David Kendrick

An Undergraduate Journal of Economics at UT-Austin, Spring 2014

A European single market for electricity is modeled to find the optimal portfolio of energy genera- tion technologies in the presence of a carbon tax. The goal is to find the Pareto optimal carbon tax rate such that both carbon emissions and production costs are minimized. Different sources of electricity– namely coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, offshore wind, and solar– are given levelized costs and carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) on a per megawatt-hour (MWh) basis. 20,000 energy portfolios, each with different allocations of the respective generation techniques, are generated via a Monte Carlo process and subsequently evaluated by their per MWh cost and emissions. The cost of each generation technol- ogy is related to the upfront capital expense, the variable operations and resource costs (O&M), the amount of CO2 it produces and the EU-wide carbon tax rate. This tax-rate is increased until the most cost-efficient portfolio is also the least CO2 producing– thus finding the optimal carbon tax-rate for aligning environmental and economic interests. Data extracted from this model suggests that this efficient price is around $80 USD per ton of CO2. 

Discussant: Robert McDowall


8:15-8:45 p.m.

Anisha Sutaria           The Impact and Need for Teleconferencing and Telework Technologies: Investigating Communication Channel Impacts on Developed Countries and Potential Impacts on Chile

Departmental Honors in Economics Thesis, Fall 2013                                                                       
Faculty Advisor: Alfred Norman

Telework and telecommunication tools are rapidly changing the way that society operates on a day to day basis. While it's easy to see how we use telework and telecommunication tools, it's harder to understand the true underlying implications that they hold. This thesis aims to understand how we have gotten to the current state we are at with telework and telecommunication tools (within a business context), why it is important to understand the implications of these tools (those already made and those in the future), and finally the future growth trajectory of telework and telecommunication tools. This thesis then goes further to analyze whether telework and telecommunication tools have the potential to impact transitional nations with strong economics, in particular, Chile.

Discussant: Shreyas Shrikanth



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