Economic Policy

Exploration of the intersection of policy and economic trends, public finance, and economic development

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IGPA Experts use cutting edge social science research methods to analyze public policy. Our independent evidence and analysis is non-partisan, data-driven, and based in the best academic scholarship available.
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Robert Resek served as University Vice President for Academic Affairs from 1988 to 1995 where he was chief budget officer, and senior academic officer for the University. Resek focused his research as a professor on technical progress, investment behavior, the demand for money, risk analysis and regional economics. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the US State Department, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Board of Higher Education. In 1977 he became director of the Bureau of Economic and Business Research of the University where he published a quarterly Illinois Economic Review, an annual economic outlook and a statistical abstract of Illinois. As an advisor to Governor Jim Thompson, he organized a conference and book, The Midwest Economy: Issues and Policy. During his tenure, the bureau significantly expanded its role in analyzing the state economy including the development of significant forecasting capability for the state economy and state revenue.   He was active in the Association of University Business and Economic Research where he served as director, vice president, and president.

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Julian Reif’s primary area of interest is health care economics, with a current research focus on the value of health and the effectiveness of social insurance programs. One of his recent papers argues that the societal value of medical technology is significantly larger than has previously been recognized, especially with respect to medical treatments for severe diseases. The paper also shows that medical treatments act as a form of insurance. Consequently, medical innovation policy can have a large impact on reducing health risks. Another recent paper finds that Medicare Part D, a prescription drug program for the elderly established by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, successfully reduced mortality following its implementation. He also studies energy and environmental policy, such as the gasoline tax, air pollution, and carbon emissions. His recent work in that area includes estimating the effect of air pollution on mortality, medical utilization, and healthcare costs. He finds that the reduction in air pollution over the past twenty years reduced elderly mortality, generating significant social benefits.



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Elizabeth T. Powers has conducted research on the incentive effects of public insurance programs, the effects of child health on maternal labor supply, employment effects of the minimum wage, and the caregiver labor market. Ongoing research projects are in the areas of children’s cognitive development, U.S.-Mexican migration, child support policy, work disability and the Disability Insurance program, and long-term care facilities. Powers is the author of numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and received fellowships and awards for her scholarship from the University of Pennsylvania, Vassar College, the Brookings Institution, and the University of Illinois. She has been a principal investigator on numerous grants.

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David F. Merriman's major area of study is state and local public finance. Merriman directs The Fiscal Futures Project, which created and maintains of a comprehensive and consistently defined measure of the Illinois state budget.  He has published extensively about the effect of tax increment finance policy on local economic growth and the determinants of tobacco tax avoidance. He has also studied Walmart’s impact on urban economic development. His most recent research concerns state and local business taxation.

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Darren Lubotsky’s research falls within two broad areas: the American labor market and the health and cognitive development of children. Some of his recent projects study the impact of rising health insurance premiums on public-sector compensation, the impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit on employment, and the economic status of immigrants in the United States.



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Anthony T. Lo Sasso is an economist whose research spans several dimensions of health economics and health services research. Lo Sasso is keenly interested in how government policies affect private sector decisions. Lo Sasso has studied the impact of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program on uninsurance among children and the extent to which public coverage “crowded out” private coverage. In addition, he has examined how community rating provisions affected individual health insurance coverage and uninsurance. Lo Sasso also studies the effects of health savings accounts and other high-deductible health insurance products on service use and spending.



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Geoffrey J.D. Hewings' major research efforts are directed toward modeling of urban, regional and interregional economic systems. Much of this work is based on a set of econometric-input-output models that have been developed for several metropolitan areas and states in the United States as well as several regions in Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and Japan. Hewings heads the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL).



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George Gross' major research activities are in power system analysis, economics, and control and electric utility regulatory policy. He has a keen interest in the interdisciplinary aspects of these areas. Gross has numerous publications in international refereed journals and has lectured at many universities around the world. Gross has introduced new courses into the curriculum and has organized national annual conferences on regulatory issues. He participated in the establishment and direction of the annual Edison Electric Institute School for Power System Operations and Planning, and has actively participated in industry restructuring forums, including appearances before FERC, NARUC and state regulatory agencies.

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J. Fred Giertz's major research interests are in the areas of public finance and regional economic development. He specializes in state and local taxation and expenditure analysis and in regional economic development issues. He has consulted with a number of state agencies and writes frequently on the Illinois budget and general economic issues in publications such as State Tax Notes and the Central Illinois Business Magazine. Giertz compiles the U of I Flash Index, a monthly indicator of the Illinois economy. Several recent articles have appeared in the National Tax Journal.



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Robert Kaestner's area of expertise are health, labor and social policy. He is an expert in health and labor economics and has conducted research on the effects of Medicaid and private health insurance on infant and child health; whether or not expansions in Medicaid crowded out private health insurance; the effect of Medicare coverage on health behaviors, prescription drug use, hospitalizations and mortality; the impact of state policies on the timing, place of occurrence and incidence of abortion; the effects of welfare reform on employment, fertility, health insurance and health; the effect of Title IX on adolescent physical activity and weight. He has authored more than 100 scholarly publications and has been awarded several research grants from the National Institutes of Health.