Health and life satisfaction in East and West Germany post-reunification, and teacher quality, happiness, and retention in public and charter schools.
These are two areas of research alumni Jacqueline S. Smith Zweig, ’04, and Lauren Calimeris, ’03, respectively, have been spending their time on in the past few years.
Jackie and Lauren are two of about 18 Colby graduates who are currently enrolled in Ph.D. programs in economics. Each returned to Colby recently to present seminars on her doctoral research.
Zweig, who majored in Economics and minored in Mathematics at Colby, is currently in her fifth year obtaining her Ph.D in applied microeconomics at the University of Southern California.
Her research involves health, labor and happiness.
“Although I did not want to be a [medical] doctor, I did want to do research related to health. At Colby, my [senior project] was on the pharmaceutical industry. When I started doing research in the Ph.D. program, I became interested in the effect of health on academic performance, labor market outcomes, and well-being,” Zweig said.
On Nov. 2nd, she gave a seminar on the first chapter of her dissertation, “Explaining Health and Life Satisfaction in East and West Germany Post-Reunification.”
In this paper, she shows how subjective well-being was affected by the transition from socialism to capitalism in East Germany after the re-unification when the economy changed so significantly.
“In another chapter, my co-authors and I investigate the effect of air pollution on the academic performance of schoolchildren in California. We merge data on publicly available test scores for each grade in each school in California with pollution data from the monitors closest to each school,” Zweig said.
Calimeris is currently finishing her Ph.D in economics at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her primary field is labor, and her dissertation focuses on the economics of education.
In her presentation on Nov. 17, Calimeris discussed her research on how different quality teachers sort between charter and public schools. In her paper, she finds that the highest quality teachers are more likely to teach at charter schools than traditional public schools. The quality effect is largest for the youngest and newest teachers.
The paper measures teacher quality in a novel way, greatly enhancing our understanding of the match between teachers and schools.
She became interested in this topic through her own personal experiences.
“I knew I wanted to do something with education as I highly value quality education, a quality public education especially. I went to public schools, my mom was a public school teacher, and a lot of my friends from Colby are public school teachers,” Calimeris said.