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The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Professor Lucie Schmidt Presents Research at Economics Series With Hamilton College

Emery Furgason

Colgate University welcomed Lucie Schmidt, Robert A. Woods professor of economics at Smith College, to speak as a part of the joint Economics Lecture Series with Hamilton College on Friday, Jan. 16.

The series allows academics in the economics field to present recent and ongoing research. Professor Erik Lillethun, assistant professor of economics at Colgate, explained the importance of the Colgate University-Hamilton College seminar series.

The Colgate-Hamilton Economics Seminar Series is an opportunity to hear about the recent research of top scholars in all fields of economics, sometimes here at Colgate and sometimes at Hamilton College,” Lillethun said. “It helps the professors stay connected to the greater world of economics research and it gives students an opportunity to learn about the cutting edge in economics research.”

Professor Schmidt presented her research, which explores the relationship between Social Security benefits and child well-being. In particular, Schmidt was interested in finding a possible correlation between Social Security benefits allotted to people aged 62 years and older and these benefits bringing children out of poverty in households with older caregivers receiving these benefits.

“Along with greater exposure to older adults, children are also experiencing greater exposure to Social Security income in the household,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt highlighted that for lower-income families, Social Security funds are a stable, consistent and reliable source of income. Schmidt continued by inquiring how much of a benefit children in these families receive from Social Security.

“Social Security income is directed to seniors,” Schmidt said. “Perhaps that income would yield more or less spending on children in the household than other income sources.”

Schmidt expanded on her question by asking if Social Security benefits that are explicitly directed to the children impact how these funds are spent by the household.

The ongoing research suggests Social Security is helping families with grandparents as caregivers avoid deep poverty and negative economic outcomes.

Assistant Professor of Economics Mike Levere was excited to find some commonalities between Schmidt’s research and the content in his courses.

“I was grateful to have Professor Lucie Schmidt from Smith be able to come give a talk on her research,” Levere said. “Professor Schmidt is one of the leading experts about government benefit policies and poverty. I routinely teach her research in my classes, both Inequality and Public Policy — ECON231 — and Public Economics — ECON344. [Schmidt’s] presentation today dovetailed perfectly with concepts I’ve been teaching in my Public Economics class.” 

Levere also reflected on the findings of Schmidt’s research.

“[Schmidt] motivated her paper by noting that research shows Social Security benefits reduce the number of children in poverty,” Levere said. “However, her estimates show that once you account for the fact that people may be less motivated to work after getting Social Security benefits, there is no longer a reduction in child poverty. That perfectly exemplifies the importance of considering the indirect effects of policies, or the ways that such policies may influence people’s behavior.”

The Colgate University-Hamilton College Economics Lecture Series continues Friday, Apr. 5, during which Colgate will welcome University of Maryland Professor of Economics Ginger Jin to campus.

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