Announcing: 2017-2018 Values & Capitalism Young Scholars

AEI’s Values & Capitalism initiative is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017–2018 V&C Young Scholar Awards. We received many impressive research proposals this year from talented students across the country, and from this pool, selected six undergraduates who will pursue rigorous, original research on an issue of public policy or economics with the oversight of a faculty advisor over the course of the 2017–2018 academic year. As a recipient of the award, each student will receive a $5,000 scholarship toward tuition, and in April 2018, they will defend their research in front of a panel of experts at AEI’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Upon its completion, their work will also be published on the Values & Capitalism website. Congratulations to this year’s V&C Young Scholars, and thank you to all who submitted research proposals.

2017–2018 Young Scholar Award Winners

Anne Rodriguez is a senior at Providence College, majoring in political science and theology. Ms. Rodriguez will conduct a study on constitutional durability, reviewing the Constitution of the Dominican Order of Preachers (an order of Catholic priests established in 1216 AD) in comparison to the Constitution of the United States, the Norwegian Constitution, and the Belgian Constitution. Ms. Rodriguez intends to use the Constitution of the Dominican Order of Preachers, a document hitherto virtually untouched by political scientists in constitutional studies, to highlight the U.S. Constitution’s strengths and potential weaknesses. The study will provide an analysis of these texts along with an analysis of the current well-being of each group of people governed by these constitutions.

Emma Nyhof is a senior at Hope College, majoring in economics and psychology. Ms. Nyhof’s research will investigate how behavioral economic theory may explain some of the decision-making surrounding the “benefits cliff”—the high effective marginal tax rates faced by benefits program participants when they increase their work hours. Specifically, Ms. Nyhof will conduct a literature review of the current work surrounding behavioral economic theory and its relationship to decision-making in the context of poverty, as well as an econometric analysis of labor force participation behavior among those enrolled in social welfare programs. Through this study, Ms. Nyhof hopes to suggest specific ways to amend means-tested welfare programs that would smooth out the benefits cliff and ultimately help people reach self-sufficiency.

Duncan Voyles is a senior at Hillsdale College, majoring in applied mathematics and economics. Mr. Voyles’ research is motivated by the assessment that small-scale farmers in the Midwest are facing unemployment because they are being displaced by their large-farm counterparts. The common explanation for this is that large farms have access to economies of scale in technology which are not available to small farms. However, there is a competing hypothesis which argues that government regulation imposes a larger burden on small-scale farms than on large-scale farms because the latter can afford the legal and political lobbying services needed to navigate these regulations. Mr. Voyles will examine the extent to which each of these factors are driving the problem and propose remedial policy solutions. The research will include on-the-ground reports conducted with farmers in the greater-Hillsdale, Michigan area and will incorporate some statistical analysis methods to assess the hypotheses.

Logan Matthews is a senior at Belmont University, majoring in economics and politics & public law. Mr. Matthews’ research is motivated by a public choice theory known as “fiscal illusion,” which suggests that the less transparent a tax system is to the taxpayer, the more difficult it is for the taxpayer to recognize and understand the true cost of government. With this notion in mind, Mr. Matthews will analyze the tax systems of states in the United States to see if the covertness or overtness of a state’s tax system can help explain the radically different fiscal outcomes observed among states. Mr. Matthews will create an index to measure each state’s tax system and compare this measure against other variables that affect the implementation of fiscal policy.

Thomas Dowling is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, majoring in political science with a concentration in civic leadership and history. Mr. Dowling’s research will examine the effect of state legislature staffing and resources allocation, known as professionalization, on state-level public policy outcomes and governance. The project will use standard matching regression analysis, a quasi-experimental case, and repurposed randomized field experiment data to measure professionalization effects. The research will be used to provide an optimized resource allocation model for the governance of state legislature.

Nicole Bachaud is a senior at Seattle Pacific University, majoring in development economics and global development studies. Ms. Bachaud’s research project aims to isolate the impact of sustainable development on economic growth. The analysis will focus on a number of dependent variables, including the human development index (HDI), foreign direct investment (FDI) in “green” sectors, and an economic freedom index, as well as some control variables to ensure that the project only measures the impacts of sustainable development policies and agendas. Ms. Bachaud hopes that her study will contribute to the growing field of sustainable development analysis by highlighting some of policy implications in order to make a way for a more sustainable future.

Applications for the 2018–2019 Young Scholar Awards are now being accepted.
More information can be found here.

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