RISE Webinar – Conversations with our Faculty
Oct 27 2020
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At this webinar, faculty from the Rice Economics Department will discuss and answer questions about their ongoing research projects.
Title: Ecology and Economics for Pandemic Prevention
Summary: For a century, two new viruses per year have spilled from their natural hosts into humans. Zoonotic viruses infect people directly most often when they handle live primates, bats, and other wildlife (or their meat) or indirectly from farm animals such as chickens and pigs. The risks are higher than ever as increasingly intimate associations between humans and wildlife disease reservoirs accelerate the potential for viruses to spread globally. Currently, we invest relatively little toward preventing deforestation and regulating wildlife trade, despite well-researched plans that demonstrate a high return on their investment in limiting zoonoses and conferring many other benefits. As public funding in response to COVID-19 continues to rise, our analysis suggests that the associated costs of simple preventive efforts would be substantially less than the economic and mortality costs of responding to these pathogens once they have emerged.
Ted Loch-Temzelides is the George and Cynthia Mitchell Professor in Sustainable Development at the Department of Economics, a Baker Institute Center for Energy Studies Scholar at Rice University, and a CESifo Fellow. He has taught and given keynote and research seminars at numerous universities and conferences around the world. Ted has worked and consulted for several institutions, including the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Central Bank of Portugal. His research interests include environmental inequality and global health, conservation and resilience, and non-standard models of decision-making. His current research focuses on quantifying the economic and health consequences of climate change, pollution, deforestation, and zoonotic pathogen transmission. He has been awarded numerous grants, published in several leading journals, and serves on the editorial board of the journal Economic Theory.
Title: "Efficiency vs. Equality in Equilibrium"
Summary: Economists (and more broadly, social scientists) have long been concerned about the tradeoffs between various measures of economic efficiency (seller revenue, allocative efficiency, etc.) and social equality (various notions of fairness). My research shows how taking into account strategic behavior by agents in the economy sheds new light on this old concern. For example, in an auction setting, I show how a commonly used way to enforce the fairness of the auction may be totally ineffective, as a seller can design an anonymous auction that achieves unfair goals (e.g., favoring a preferred buyer). I also revisit fairness concerns about the machine learning algorithms that increasingly run our lives (e.g., credit decision algorithms in banks, risk scoring algorithms in criminal justice, etc.) and the push for "fair" machine learning algorithms. I show how economic efficiency implies that algorithms should be designed to achieve a popular and intuitive measure of fairness – equalizing false positive/false negative rates across various demographic groups.
Mallesh M. Pai is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at Rice University, and a CEPR Research Fellow. His current research interests include mechanism design/auction theory, the economics of privacy, and the economics of machine learning. His work is supported by the National Science Foundation, and he has published in several top economics journals. Prior to joining Rice, Mallesh was a Janice and Julian Bers Assistant Professor of the Social Sciences at the Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania. He has a PhD in Managerial Economics and Strategy from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, and a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
This RISE webinar is free, but registration is required at: https://riceuniversity.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_x3k7VJy0S8mj3vpe0CSvQg.
Once you register, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to access the webinar using a computer, smart phone, or telephone. For registration assistance, please contact Allyssa Kile at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This event is part of Owl Together, a week long virtual event that brings together the best offerings of Rice's 2020 Homecoming & Reunion and Families Weekend. Register here for Owl Together.