Monthly Archives: December 2013

Latest REPEC rating has BU economics at #10!

I know rankings of departments are always imprecise, but I think  BU Economics should be proud that REPEC, (REsearch Papers in EConomics), which measures research output on 31 dimensions and takes an average, currently puts us at #10 in the US, just behind Yale, and ahead of Penn, Brown, Michigan and Northwestern. Keep up the great productivity!


Here is the link.

In case it changes before you look, or your don't have time, here are the top 30 places.

Top 25% US Economics Departments
Please note that rankings can depend on the number of registered authors in the respective institutions. Register at the RePEc Author Service.
Rank	Institution	Score	Authors	Author shares
1	Department of Economics, Harvard University Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA)
	1.02	64	50.86
2	Economics Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA)
	2.3	41	32.55
3	Department of Economics, University of Chicago Chicago, Illinois (USA)
	3.41	41	34.28
4	Department of Economics, Princeton University Princeton, New Jersey (USA)
	3.87	47	33.41
5	Department of Economics, University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, California (USA)
	4.16	45	34.66
6	Department of Economics, New York University (NYU) New York City, New York (USA)
	6.39	54	40.17
7	Department of Economics, School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University New York City, New York (USA)
	7.58	52	40.63
8	Department of Economics, Stanford University Stanford, California (USA)
	8.18	55	44.19
9	Economics Department, Yale University 
New Haven, Connecticut (USA)
	9.62	52	30.74
10	Department of Economics, Boston University Boston, Massachusetts (USA)
	11.89	52	42.41
11	Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA)
	12.33	38	33.32
12	Economics Department, Brown University 
Providence, Rhode Island (USA)
	12.76	41	37.31
13	Economics Department, University of Michigan 
Ann Arbor, Michigan (USA)
	12.86	68	53.1
14	Department of Economics, Northwestern University 
Evanston, Illinois (USA)
	12.93	35	30.54
15	Finance & Economics Department, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University New York City, New York (USA)
	14.36	25	20.52
16	Department of Economics, University of California-San Diego (UCSD) La Jolla, California (USA)
	16.29	42	34.57
17	Department of Economics, University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) Los Angeles, California (USA)
	16.9	42	32.8
18	Economics Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, Wisconsin (USA)
	20.34	36	24.97
19	Department of Economics, Cornell University Ithaca, New York (USA)
	20.53	45	28.04
20	Economics Department, Dartmouth College Hanover, New Hampshire (USA)
	21.04	30	27.25
21	Department of Economics, Boston College Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts (USA)
	21.32	46	40.43
22	Economics Department, University of California-Davis Davis, California (USA)
	22.1	38	34.98
23	Department of Economics, University of Maryland College Park, Maryland (USA)
	22.76	43	35.97
24	Economics Department, Georgetown University Washington, District of Columbia (USA)
	23.21	43	34.12
25	Department of Economics, Duke University Durham, North Carolina (USA)
	23.95	43	34.71
26	Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University Nashville, Tennessee (USA)
	25.5	33	31.14
27	Department of Economics, University of Minnesota Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA)
	26.67	27	20.99
28	Economics Department, Michigan State University East Lansing, Michigan (USA)
	27.5	38	32.35
29	Economics Department, Stern School of Business, New York University (NYU) New York City, New York (USA)
	27.98	23	20.61
30	Department of Economics, University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) Santa Barbara, California (USA)
	29.55	31	26.08

This page shows one of the many rankings computed with RePEc data. They 
are based on data about authors who have registered with the RePEc Author Service, institutions listed on EDIRC, bibliographic data collected by RePEc, citation analysis performed by CitEc and popularity data compiled by LogEc. To find more rankings, historical data and detailed methodology, click here. Or see the ranking FAQ.
These rankings take only into account institutions registered in EDIRC and authors registered with the RePEc Author Service
 and the institutions they claimed to be affiliated with. For US 
Economics Departments, these are 478 institutions. Institutions need 
satisfy the following criteria to be included: Institutions having the 
following words in its name or its name translation on EDIRC: Economics and one of School, Department, Division or Faculty; be located in the United States.

Grade inflation article – BU looks tough

A few quotes from a story in today’s Boston Globe.

“Harvard, other schools still fighting grade inflation” The Boston Globe By Marcella Bombardieri. December 05, 2013

“At Yale College, where 62 percent of grades are in the A range, proposals to curb grade inflation are in doubt following student protests and faculty concern.”

“After a Boston Globe analysis in 2001 found that an astonishing 91 percent of Harvard College students were graduating with honors, officials released data showing that 48.5 percent of grades were A’s and A-minuses, compared to 33.2 percent who received those marks in 1985.”

“In response to the uproar that followed, the [Harvard] faculty capped honors — summa, magna, and cum laude — at 60 percent.”

“In response to a professor’s question at Tuesday’s meeting of the [Harvard] Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Jay M. Harris, dean of undergraduate education, said that the median grade awarded to undergraduates is an A-minus, while the most frequently awarded grade is an A.”

“Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, found in a national survey that 41 percent of students had grade point averages of A-minus or higher in 2009, compared to just 7 percent in 1969.”

“A few universities emphasize strict grading, or what students unhappily call “grade deflation.” Boston University has been known for difficult grading for many years.”

Personal experience with the new Federal Exchange web site

Randall P. Ellis, Professor, Boston University Department of Economics and past president of the American Society of Health Economists.

Today, Tuesday Dec 3, I went on line to check out the new web site for selecting individual health insurance. I checked out options for enrolling in the Oxford County Maine. The web page now has a totally new feel and look to it. Most importantly, it allowed me to shop for different plan options without having to first pass through the extensive security barriers which used to prevent people from shopping until they established eligibility. Now, it is attractive and better than the Massachusetts exchange.

I clicked through 50 screens, and dozens of plans in the middle of Tuesday morning with no noticeable delays or glitches. (The Boston University benefits web site gave me more problems in recent weeks.)

The options look terrific to me, although I am covered at work and hence not eligible to enroll through the exchanges.

The premium in rural Oxford County Maine for a 20 year old in the lowest cost option is only $110 per month, without any government subsidy. That is astoundingly low compared to the overpriced policies that were previously available.

I also priced out a gold plan (Community Advantage) comparable to my coverage at Boston University for a family of three. Without any subsidy, that plan would be $1799 per month. The Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Gold Guided Access plan was $2013/month. At BU I am currently paying $1813 per month. So these two plans look reasonable to me in comparison. Of course my employer subsidizes my coverage, and many will be eligible for subsidies from the ACA or their employer.

Also new is the link to the Kaiser Family Foundation calculator, which allows the user to get an estimate of any savings that he or she is eligible for based on income and family size. I played with it for a while, and it worked well. I quickly used that calculator to calculate that a 39 year old in Oxford Maine earning $30,000 per year could expect to pay $3790 per year, and then receive a tax credit of $1278, bringing the total cost to $2512 per year which is 8.37%.

This new interface makes shopping on the exchanges simple and easy to understand.

Although terribly unpleasant, the flaws in the initial system promoted awareness and discussion in the media about the new exchanges, which is good. It also encouraged employers to step forward and offer coverage instead of relying on individuals. Both of these are very positive outcomes.

I predict that enrollments through the exchanges by the end of December will be below the initial, optimistic forecasts of the administration, but that millions more will enroll in early 2014 as people fill out their tax forms and are prompted to answer whether they have health insurance. In Massachusetts, that was a greater motivation to purchasing than the end of the calendar year.