By Liz Warren-Pederson
Doctoral students in economics at the Eller College have a long history of attracting grant funding for dissertation projects — Carl Kitchens and Brendan Livingston are the latest. Each was awarded a $10,000, one-year Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences.
“I’m trying to figure out what happened to private charities during the Great Depression,” said Livingston. “Researchers are unsure why current poverty relief is provided by the government rather than by churches and charities.”
One theory, he noted, is that New Deal legislation forced people to donate to the poor, reducing voluntary contributions to private charities. “Previous data about this time period is inconclusive because we don’t have data on donations to charities,” he explained. “The NSF grant allows me to create a data set where I observe both donations and spending by charities before and during the Great Depression. This allows me to tell a story about what happened to private charities during the Great Depression.”
Kitchens, meanwhile, is working on a paper that explores eminent domain, or the power of the state to seize a citizen’s private property, such as land, with compensation but without consent. The paper uses data from the Tennessee Valley Authority, one of the biggest eminent domain cases in the country’s history. Some of Kitchens’ data indicates that the project may have lowered electricity costs less than projected.
Other recent recipients of dissertation grants from the NSF include:
Jonathan Fox: “Public Health Movements, Local Poor Relief, and Child Mortality in the United States: 1910-1932.”
Jedidiah Brewer: “The Effect of Hypermart Entry on Traditional Gasoline Retailers: Evidence from a Natural Experiment.”
Samuel Allen: “Doctoral Dissertation Research: The Political Economy of Worker’s Compensation Benefits: 1940 -2000.”
Ryan Johnson: “Doctoral Dissertation Research: The Economic Progress of American Black
Workers in Periods of Crisis and Change, 1910-1950.”
Melissa Thomasson: “Examining the Impact of Government Tax Policies on the Development of the
Market for Health Insurance.”