Centenary students attend Economic Scholars Program conference in Dallas

Front row, l to r: Trey Llorence, Betsy Rankin, Dillon Rogers, Makayla Maxwell-Stallcup, John Nwoha, Harold Christensen. Back row: David Hoaas, Scott Halper, Jake Hillebrenner. Not pictured: Brooks Smitha.

SHREVEPORT, LA — Six Centenary economics majors attended the Economic Scholars Program (ESP) at the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank April 11 and 12. All six students were also featured on the program of the competitive undergraduate conference as either presenters or discussants. Makayla Maxwell-Stallcup, Trey Llorence, and Scott Halper presented their senior economic research papers while Dillon Rogers and Brooks Smitha, also seniors, were chosen to present posters. Junior Jake Hillebrenner served as a discussant for another student presenter.

ESP is a collaborative effort between Austin College and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas to foster the involvement of undergraduate economics students in all facets of research. Since 2007, student scholars and faculty from institutions across the U.S. and Canada have come together to share undergraduate student-initiated or student–faculty coauthored works. Centenary students have been chosen for the conference program every year since 2008.

Maxwell-Stallcup’s research considers the Disability Insurance program that exists to help citizens who have become unable to solely support themselves or their families. Considering the political nature of the Social Security Disability Insurance program, her paper explores the existence of a relationship between a state’s political affiliation and its specific approval rate. Other variables like poverty rate, unemployment, percentage of people unemployed for 15 weeks or longer, urban population of a state, population, and racial demographics are included in the research to explore other possible factors that could theoretically affect the approval rate. According to the results, the unemployment rate and the population below the poverty line variables are the significant determinants of approval.

A common topic in the news, social media, music, and practically everywhere is the legalization of cannabis in the United States. Llorence’s study examines whether controlled cannabis affects rates of domestic violence. His research uses ordinary least squares regression on cross-sectional data on the state of Colorado at the county level regarding cannabis use and its effects on violence in the household for the year 2017. The research suggests that the legalization of marijuana does increase crime based on the variables considered in the study.

Halper’s research considers whether school reputation is significant in postgraduate success as measured by median earnings of students at each institution ten years after entering a four year college or university. His model uses data from IPEDs, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, U.S. News undergraduate college rankings, Forbes undergraduate college rankings, the Wall Street Journal and Times undergraduate college rankings, and the government’s College Scorecard for 2016. His results suggest that school reputation is significant in determining post graduate success.

Rogers’ work studies whether or not the amount of student loans by individuals at the state level upon leaving school has an effect on the purchase of residential property. The dependent variable is the homeownership rate in each state with the independent variables as follows: average cost of college, median house price, median income, total per capita savings, student loan debt per capita, percent of population that is African-American, and percent of population that is another minority. All variables are significant except student loan debt per capita. This may be due to the fact that because individuals already have incurred debt through student loans that they become less averse to taking on more debt in the form of homeownership.

Smitha’s research considers the rate at which players move up and down the ranks of professional baseball. His model and analysis focuses on the determinants of the number of minor league pitchers that are called up to the major leagues in a given year. His research considering the upward mobility of pitchers looks at innings pitched, age, seasons spent in the minor leagues, and earned runs average.

The students were accompanied in Dallas by Professors Elizabeth Rankin, John Nwoha, David J. Hoaas, and Emeritus Professor Harold Christensen. Support for travel to the conference was provided by The Community Foundation of Northwest Louisiana – The Omicron Delta Epsilon At Centenary College Fund.


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