Interdisciplinary Workshop Series

The Center has sponsored a variety of academic research workshops featuring faculty speakers from the Departments of Economics, Political Science, and Sociology who present and share their ongoing research efforts with other faculty colleagues and students. These workshops are designed to provide a space where faculty members can share their research findings with those both inside and outside their departments, and gain invaluable feedback from colleagues and students. 

Below we list our prior interdisciplinary workshops: 

Sustainable Consumption and the Comprehensive Economic Well-Being of American Household by Steven Fazzari, Bert A. and Jeanette L. Lynch Distinguished Professor of Economics and Professor of Sociology


This research develops a comprehensive measure of household economic well-being, “sustainable consumption,” that integrates information on household income, assets, debt, transfer payments, and asset returns. This concept estimates a lifetime consumption path that balances household resources with a realistic expenditure path. We calculate sustainable consumption using PSID data and demonstrate that it anchors actual household spending.

Following rapid growth from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s, average sustainable consumption stagnated before falling more than actual spending after the Great Recession. Decomposing sustainable consumption identifies the relative importance of different household resources for well-being—insights that would be missed when income, wealth, or transfers are considered separately. Taxable income supports the majority of sustainable consumption although its share has fallen while the Social Security share has grown. Lower real asset returns affect the relative share of household resources arriving at different times of life.

We also use sustainable consumption to measure the dynamics of economic inequality. Average real sustainable consumption rose 83 percent from the middle 1980s through 2018 for the top five percent of the income distribution while it was almost unchanged for the bottom 40 percent. The gap between the top five percent and the bottom 40 percent rose almost twice as much when measured with sustainable consumption compared with the rise of income inequality.

To Dicuss or Not to Discuss: How Selective Exposure to Political Discussion Conditions Experimental Findings on Polarization [Working Paper with Erin Rossiter, Assistant Professor, University of Notre Dame] by Taylor Carlson, Associate Professor of Political Science 

Abstract Political discussion within echo chambers of people who agree with each other can increase polarization, while political discussion across the aisle can reduce polarization. Most of the evidence supporting these findings comes from experiments in which researchers randomly assign people to discuss politics with people who agree or disagree with them. This approach overlooks the fact that Americans have clear preferences for avoiding political discussions, and if they must discuss, most people strongly prefer discussion with people who agree with them. By assigning people to discussion settings without considering if they would ever choose that social setting themselves, prior experimental findings may not describe real-world political discussions. To address this limitation, we use a Preference Incorporating Choice and Assignment (PICA) design to estimate the effect of agreeable or disagreeable political discussion on polarization, conditional on the types of political discussion people actually prefer. Consistent with previous work, we find that disagreeable political discussion reduces polarization for both people who prefer disagreeable discussion and those who do not. However, we fail to replicate the finding that agreeable discussion increases polarization. The findings from this study help us understand how to best scale discussion-based interventions to reduce polarization.

Who Issues What: Mapping Financial Innovation by Ana Babus, Associate Professor of Economics 

Abstract: Innovations to financial prodcuts available to firms for raising capital can have far-reaching impacts on the economy. However, the majority of these products are issued by a narrow set of firms, raising questions about whether they mitigate specific frictions prevalent in certain secotrs of the economy. In this paper, we address the question and propose a framework that allows us to systematically document which ifrms issue which products. To this end, we represent financial products as a bundle of characteristics. Using granular data on secruities issued by non-financial public firms in the US between 1985 and 2014, we examine which characterstics are sought out by some issuers and avoided by others. We then link attributes of issuers to the characteristics of products and identify commonalities across firms that issue similar sets of characteristics. 

Citizen Valuation of Policing by Andrew Jordan, Assistant Professor of Economics 

Abstract: There is an apparent tradeoff between violent crime and police use of force, but we know little about how citizens weigh this tradeoff. We elicit vaulations of crime and policing via a survey that asks respondents to select among apartments with different rents, ameniites, and neighborhood policing characteristics. On average, respondents are willing to pay four times more to decrease use of force than violent crime. When respondents are informed about inconsistent body-worn camera activation by local police, they become more willing to pay both to decrease crime and force and to improve housing amenities. 

Explaining the Redistribution Gap: Inequality, Tax Policy Design, and Ideology by Guillermo Rosas, Professor of Political Science 

Abstract: Redistribution efforts have lagged behind the long-term increase in inequality observable in most democracies. We investigate three explanations for this redistribution gap: a widespread insensitivity to inequality, weak preferences over the equalization potential of tax plans, and limited updating of tax reforms' perceived ideological positions. We devise several experiments creating exogenous variation in the level and structure of inequality and tax poicy design that we field to samples of the adult population in Denmark, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Individuals are slightly more supportive of taxing the rich as inequality increases. Moreover, mass preferences strongly depend on the equalization potential of tax reforms: individuals value more progressivity, low tax intensity, and poor-friendliness. Inequality also fails to induce meaningful shifts in the perceived ideological positions of tax reforms. We leverage these results to perofrma a stochastic frontier analysis identifying the relationships between tax reforms' equalization impact and public support. 

Displaced and Unsafe: The Legacy of Settler Colonial Racial Capitalism in the U.S. Rental Market by Elizabeth Korver-Glenn, Assistant Professor of Sociology

Abstract: Unsafe rental units are disproportionately located in communities of color, resulting in numerous detrimental effects for resident's health and socioeconomic well-being. Research examining how renters perceive and experience housing quality issues has largely ignored Indigenous residents. Using multiple methods, I and my co-authors examine the mechanisms of rental housing inequity and how long-income renters experience such inequities. We draw on in-depth interviews with 43 low-income American Indian, Black, Latinx, and White renters across two research sites, examining their perceptions and experiences of racialized dispossessing. We find that exept for American Indian renters in our sample with same-Tribe landlords or property managers, low-income renters of color routinely experience other-race landlord and property manager non-responsiveness to housing quality and safety issues and perceive landlords and property managers racilizing them as inferior.

To view related information on Korver-Glenn's research, visit our Working Paper Series page