Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Saturday at USC

I don't drive.  I have a license but I haven't driven 1 mile in the last 5 years.   Los Angeles is a car town so this means that when I have to go somewhere somebody gives me a lift.  At 815am this Saturday morning,  I took a 25 minute cab ride from Westwood to USC.  As I walked the USC campus, I took this photo.

I sat down at a bench and graded ten of my students' essays (there are 100 registered students).  Each of them had written a memo related to a REEP paper they had read and thought about.  I could have graded more but I got tired of reading them.  I walked into the lobby at the Sol Price School of Policy at USC and was immediately recognized by one of my past UCLA students who is now a graduate student at USC. She asked me if I had joined the USC faculty and wanted to know why I was there at 845am on a Saturday.  I told her that I didn't think that I had joined the USC faculty but that there certainly exists an offer such that I would.   Having been one of my students, she knows that I think "at the margin".  I then went up to the third floor and participated in the morning Agglomeration Conference.   Jenny Schuetz presented the first paper of the morning.  She presented new research findings investigating the determinants of where retail stores open in California metropolitan areas.  Under what circumstances would a Walmart open near the Staples Center?  I then presented the last paper of the morning focused on urban governance in China.  Here is the paper's title page:

Incentivizing China’s Urban Mayors to Mitigate Pollution Externalities: The Role of the Central Government and Public Concern

Siqi Zheng
Tsinghua University

Matthew E. Kahn

Weizeng Sun
Tsinghua University

Danglun Luo
February 2013

This paper will soon be submitted to the Regional Science and Urban Economics issue that honors John Quigley.  The USC Seminar participants offered some terrific feedback and our paper will be stronger because of it.  Richard Green was the paper's discussant and several of my other old friends made a number of great points that we are now working to incorporate into our revision.   As I argued in the seminar, empirical studies of "leadership" will become a growing research topic.  Think of your own University, how do you know that your Dean or President is a good leader?  What empirical evidence would convince you of this (besides for receiving a raise!)?   In our paper, we explain why China's new rules of the game raise our optimism about Mayors stepping up and being better leaders with respect to environmental protection.  



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Patrick Walsh said...

If they had a choice in REEP paper, what were the more popular ones chosen?