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Monday, April 23, 2012

Rutgers Research Trip #1-Part 1

Week #1
My biggest ongoing research project concerns the impact of clinical depression on the labor market outcomes of young adults (20-34 yrs.). I started this project in 2009 with Dr. William M. Rodgers III of Rutgers University. This is a special project for a variety of reasons, one being that I get to work with my undergraduate professor and adviser, now friend and mentor.

The project will likely result in at least three manuscripts. The first two are our current focus. I traveled to New Jersey to both work with Bill in person and to access restricted data at the RDC @CUNY-Baruch College.  Last year I secured the VFIC Mednick Memorial Fellowship to fund the trip. My traveling poodles, Millie and Lily, accompanied me on the trip (although they do not get to go into the city.)

I met with Bill twice in the first week. The first meeting was to set a plan for this trip and the one in July. Last Wednesday we met at a Starbucks near where Bill had a TV interview with EBRU for the show EBRU Today. This week he discussed equality for women in the workplace. We hammered out a 3+ hour session reviewing the results generated over the past few months, namely a meta analysis of a set of depression impacts from three data sets and three measures of depression and a decomposition of the therapy effects on labor markets outcomes for the clinically depressed. The later analysis is similar to a decomposition of the earnings gap between men and women.

Several major items came out of our meeting. We decided that it was important to use quantile regression techniques, in addition to Heckman selection models, to analyze hours of work. That become one of my tasks for the remainder of the week. Additionally, in the therapy decomposition, an indicator for health insurance should be included. It will be interesting to see the impact of this variable as some mental health professionals do not deal with health insurance making the patient responsible for reimbursement from the insurer and initially having to cover the office visit. Could this create disparities between low- and middle/upper-income households? Finally we need to try a set of industry indicators as labor market outcomes vary by industry, particularly during periods of economic downturn.

How has my time management been? I have found that I am most productive in the early morning (5:30-10:00 am) and the evening (5:30-10:30 pm) on this trip. Thus my routine has evolved into two intensive sessions a day sandwiching a running session and non-research related work. One afternoon I even participated in my student's (Sara Caudle) Honors in the Major presentation via conference call.  I have also been working on the dreaded academic assessment report for the RC Economics Program. I am getting a considerable amount completed, so I will stick with this schedule.

Rutgers track facilty
Running is also getting on track after an ankle scare two weeks ago. I sprained my ankle running on the Mill Mountain trails with friends. Thankfully it was nothing major and after some rest, lots of cold/hot contrast therapy and gritting my teeth through some runs I am back in order. I did my first track workout at Rutgers University's track. The facility is next to the basketball arena (imagine the crowds for some of those Big East match-ups!) I also went to Princeton University last Friday evening to watch the Larry Ellis Invitational. Some impressive performances including a high school female running 2:05 in the 800 and another going 16:15 in the 5K!

Over 5000 runners!
Sunday I did the 8K at the Unite Half Marathon @ Rutgers University as a rust buster. This course was challenging with lots of long steady climbs after 2.5 miles. I was the first female and second overall in a field of over 700 runners. The time was nothing to write home about, but a good tempo effort, especially just 4 weeks after a marathon with very few workouts under my belt. I also had the pleasure of running my friend and research colleague, Dr. Yana Rodgers (Bill's wife and my Economics of Development professor at the College of William and Mary), in the last few miles of the half marathon. She ran close to her personal best and we hope qualified for a big half marathon in New York. I also met several other female runners on my cool-down. Running is such a great community activity in addition to its health benefits. There were over 4500 runners in the half marathon! Luckily the three inches of rain the area was suppose to get held off until the half was almost over.

This week will be much of the same, save a trip or to into NYC to visit the RDC.

Happy running and research,


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