Letter from the Chair

Frank SchorfheidePhiladelphia, July 2018


As chair of the Economics Department at the University of Pennsylvania, I wish to thank you for visiting our website. We are consistently ranked as one of the top ten U.S. economics department, with faculty and students dedicated to applying vanguard theoretical, computational, and empirical methods to answer questions of general economic research and policy interest. You can access this research through the personal pages of our faculty and the PIER working paper series.

Our diverse and distinguished faculty represents more than a dozen countries from five continents. It includes two Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and eleven Fellows of the Econometric Society. Our faculty serves the economics profession diligently, as many have editorial responsibilities at major economic journals, including Econometrica and the Review of Economic Studies. Many faculty members are receiving external research funds from either the National Science Foundation or the National Institute of Health while several others are affiliated with economic think tanks such as the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Centre for Economic and Policy Research.

For the academic year 2018/19 we welcome three new assistant professors. Karun Adusumilli is an econometrician who joins us from the London School of Economics, where he conducted his doctoral studies. A significant part of his research develops novel techniques to measure treatment effects, e.g. the effect of a job training program, and to provide an accurate assessment of the uncertainty associated with these measures. 

Francesco Agostinelli joins us from the doctoral program of Arizona State University. He is an applied microeconomists with interests in labor economics and the economics of education. Part of his research studies children’s skill formation and clarifies the role of peer effects on parental time investments in their children. In this work he measures the extent to which the environment in which children grow up shapes their development through the effects of social interactions.

Margaux Luflade conducted her doctoral studies at Duke University. Her research interests also fall in the area of labor economics and education. She has written papers on school choice using a very rich administrative data set from Tunisia. One of her papers investigates how providing students information about which programs would admit them can improve the quality of school-student matches.

Over the summer, our department has relocated into a new building, the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics, abbreviated as PCPSE. As the name suggests, the building houses the departments of Political Science and Economics as well as several related research centers, facilitating productive synergies between disciplines. The Perelman Center, located at the corner of 36th and Walnut Streets, combines the fully renovated historical West Philadelphia Title and Trust building with an adjacent new six-story structure. As of this writing, the contractors are punching out their remaining work while the movers are hauling our belongings from the McNeil building so that we are fully operational for the Fall semester. In addition to its wonderful inhabitants, the Perelman Center also features state-of-the art classrooms, meeting facilities and beautiful public spaces with stunning vistas of the city. If you are in the neighborhood, please make sure to stop by and check it out for yourself.

Our vibrant Ph.D. program houses 120 students from across the globe, conducting research in four major areas of inquiry: econometrics, economic theory, empirical microeconomics, and macroeconomics. Our Ph.D. student placement record continues to be strong. We look forward to watching our students become future leaders in the Economics profession and proudly accept the challenge to guide future cohorts of Ph.D. students to similarly successful outcomes.

At the undergraduate level, we offer two majors: an economics major as well as a mathematical economics major. The latter is designed for students with a strong interest in both economics and mathematics who will potentially consider pursuing a graduate degree. Combined, our two majors have consistently been the largest undergraduate major in the School of Arts and Sciences, and as a department, we are committed to impart the insights we have gathered from our own research to our undergraduate students in a scientifically rigorous yet accessible and interesting way.

I cordially invite you to come visit us in Philadelphia and join in our exciting quest to better understand the complex international economic world and to analyze the efficacy of a wide range of economic policies, one research project at a time.

Yours Sincerely,

Frank Schorfheide
Professor and Chair of the Economics Department