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Economist John Siegfried to discuss “Better Living through Economics,” November 12, 2010.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY— Economist John J. Siegfried will discuss his recent book, Better Living through Economics, in a lecture on Friday, November 12, at 12:00pm in the Blodgett Hall Auditorium. Siegfried will use case studies described in the book to demonstrate how economic research has improved social and economic conditions over the past half century by influencing public policy decisions. The lecture, presented by the Economics Department, is free and open to the public.

Siegfried’s Better Living through Economics illustrates how economists were instrumental in revising the consumer price index and in devising auctions for allocating spectrum rights to cell phone providers in the 1990s. It also describes how, more surprisingly, economists built the foundation for eliminating the military draft in favor of an all-volunteer army in 1973, for passing the Earned Income Tax Credit in 1975, for deregulating airlines in 1978, for adopting the welfare-to-work reforms during the Clinton administration, and for implementing the Pension Reform Act of 2006 that allowed employers to automatically enroll employees in a 401(k).

The book argues that important policy changes resulting from economists’ research include a new approach to monetary policy that resulted in moderated economic fluctuations (at least until 2008!), the reduction of trade impediments that allows countries to better exploit their natural advantages, a revision of antitrust policy to focus on those market characteristics that affect competition.  Also, changes that affected daily lives of many, like an improved method of placing new physicians in hospital residencies that is more likely to keep married couples in the same city, and the adoption of tradable emissions rights, which has improved our environment at minimum cost are analyzed.

John J. Siegfried is professor of economics at Vanderbilt University and secretary-treasurer of the American Economic Association. He serves on the board of directors of the National Bureau of Economic Research and the National Council on Economic Education. He is a specialist in antitrust economics, industrial organization, economic education, sports economics, and economics of higher education. He is co-editor of a number of books including The Economics of Crime: An Anthology of Recent Work (1980), Economic Analysis and Antitrust Law (1988), Economic Challenges in Higher Education (1991), and Empirical Studies in Industrial Organization (1992), and has published extensively in journals such as the Journal of Economic Education, the American Economic Review, American Economist, Economics of Education Review, Southern Economic Journal, and the Journal of Sports Economics, among many others.

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Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, October 4, 2010