Letter from the Chair

Frank Schorfheide

Philadelphia, July 2019


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 thirteen 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 2019/20, we say farewell to Frank DiTraglia and Yuichi Yamamoto who accepted appointments at Oxford University (UK) and Hitotsubashi University (Japan), respectively. At the same time, we welcome two new assistant professors. Both of them completed their doctoral studies at Yale University.

Wayne Gao [insert hyperlink] is an econometrician who also has strong research interest in microeconomic theory. In his dissertation Gao studies the identification and estimation of panel multinomial choice models that feature high-dimensional parameters that capture unobserved tastes for observed product characteristics as well as parameters that capture unobserved product characteristics. These models play an important role in industrial organization because they are used to capture the demand side of the market.

Joachim Hubmer [insert hyperlink] is a quantitative macroeconomist. Broadly speaking, his work seeks to understand what forces shape the distribution of income, consumption and wealth in the economy, and how these distributions in turn impact macroeconomic performance. More specifically, his dissertation develops a novel explanation for the recent fall in the aggregate labor share, i.e., the fraction of gross domestic output that is paid to workers as compensation for their labor effort.

One year has passed, since the Department relocated to its new building, the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics. As the name suggests, the building is shared with the Political Science Department as well as several related research centers, facilitating productive synergies between discipline. In retrospect, the move to the new building unfolded very smoothly. We settled in quickly and started to enjoy the new offices, the state-of-the-art classrooms, meeting facilities, and beautiful public spaces with stunning vistas of the city.

Our vibrant Ph.D. program houses approximately 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