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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Presentation for the Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center

This morning I gave a presentation on some aspects of the new health care law that are of interest to small business owners. The event was sponsored by the Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center and my former student, Brunella Salazar-Gonti `13, was one of the organizers.

Below are copies of my presentation and my handout.


Thanks to the organizers and all who came,

Monday, November 11, 2013

PPACA Small Business Exchange Premium Rates

Small businesses have a health insurance exchange or marketplace similar to that for individuals under the new health care law: Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP)

A small business is defined as one who employs no more than 25 full time equivalents (FTE), pays no more than $50,000 in average annual wages to those employees, and who contributes at least 50% of the premium expense for those employees enrolled in the qualified exchange plan.

Curious about SHOP rates in your area? Use the database below to get some estimates. The rate is determined by the primary business location.

Powered by Socrata

I will be presenting some details about options for small businesses on November 13th for the Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center. For more information about the event, go here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Award, presentations, and the taper

It has been a busy few weeks, so here is a quick recap:

I am proud to announce that I was second place in the National Economics Teaching Association (NETA)/Cengage Learning Best in Class Award competition. Part of my award was a paid trip to the 9th National Economics Teaching Conference in Austin, TX October 24-25. I had never attended this conference, but it is now on my annual list of "Must do" conferences. Not only did Cengage and NETA put on a well organized conference with great speakers, but the group of economists that attend are fantastic. I came away with great ideas and new friends/colleagues...and running partners! I am far from the only "Running Economist".

I will be presenting this project again on Friday morning at the VCSS Annual Conference in downtown Roanoke. My session is scheduled for 9-9:50 am in Pocahontas B at the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center. I hope to see you there.

The writing continues to progress as well. I am waiting for the final approval from Administration to submit a manuscript analyzing 2011-12 Senior Exit Survey data, which should occur this week. I will post a draft to SSRN once I get the OK.

Finally, the taper for the Philadelphia Marathon has officially begun. My last big run was Sunday (22 miles with 4 x 800 at 5K effort) and it went very well.

Happy Halloween,

Monday, October 7, 2013

Learning to write a lot

The summer of 2013 went by too quickly, and the fall is quickly slipping away. Tick tock, tick tock goes the publishing and training clocks.

My summer was productive both as an economist and a runner. The annual research trip to Rutgers University included big steps in my joint project regarding clinical depression and labor market outcomes with Bill. Any empirical economist will understand the joy we experienced when we discovered a natural experiment that was possible to utilize! More to come on that in the near future. Our goal to get a draft finished by September was not met, but our new goal of by the end of 2013 will be aided by some new writing techniques discussed below.

During one of our coffee shop meetings Bill shared that he had started carving out a set period each day to work on his research projects and this approach had proven to be effective; he has made great progress on several ongoing projects. Recently I started reading "How to Write a Lot" by Paul J. Silvia. He not only suggests the same, but argues that writers should vigorously defend a set writing schedule, even if that means fibbing to those who might not understand "No, I cannot meet at that time because that is my writing period." As the new John S. Shannon Endowed Professor of Economics I have an even greater responsibility to write well and to write a lot. I am getting better about not letting grading, excuses, life, etc. get in the way of writing (I have submitted one paper so far this semester), but I have great room for improvement. I hope that this blog will help keep me accountable. If you are an academic writer, you should read Silvia's book.

On the running front, the progress continues! Each week I get stronger. I continue to take Monday's off, but still hit a high of 86 miles on a six day running week; I hit the majority of my workout goals and continue to enjoy monitoring my progress towards Philadelphia. Twice I incorporated a race into a workout, including running the last 10.1 miles of the High Bridge Half Marathon at goal marathon pace. For those of you who do a majority of your long workouts solo, this is a much less mentally taxing way of getting the work done.

Winning the High Bridge Half Marathon in August
Having a strong support group is crucial to running success and I have found that in so many different places recently. Not only do I have an amazing long run partner (Sarah Glenn), but also members of the RNTC (including Steve Crowder), the new Roanoke Valley Elite Track Club, my coach and friends with Without Limits, Brooks shoes and apparel, and Hammer Nutrition.

Until next time, keep writing and running,

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Rutgers University Research Trip

I have been in New Jersey for the last few weeks on my annual research trip. My co-author (and good friend) William M. Rodgers III (Rutgers University, John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development) and I use the time to work intensively on our joint project concerning clinical depression and the labor market outcomes of young adults. Additionally, I use the time to focus on marathon training. The perfect Running Economist adventure (although I do miss my husband, kitty, and pups who are back in VA; the two little rascals/helpers came along).

Helper #1
Helper #2
This trip has been very productive. After several years of work, four data sets, applications for restricted data access, trips to the New York Census Research Data Center in NYC to use said restricted data, presentations in CA, DC, VA, and NJ, the submission process is in sight! Currently I am rechecking our estimates, heeding comments made by reviewers at the January ASSA/AEA meeting, and tabulating the results. It is hard to believe that so much time, effort, travel, etc. will likely fit into a handful of tables, albeit power-packed tables! We are hoping to send the paper out to a journal by end of August/September. Some power writing will need to occur over the coming weeks.

Thomas Sweet's, my 2nd office
 On the running front, things have been going very well. I finally listened to my coach and took two weeks off of cardio in May, and the rest is paying off. I had not taken 14 days off from cardio since at least 7th grade (which looks incredibly obsessive as I read it). My racing and training was stagnant and poor for about a year and something needed to change. The time off was just the change I needed. It was mentally difficult to get through the time off and the first few weeks of running afterwards felt awkward to say the least. Clothing was not fitting like it used to, which made it all the more difficult to get through the rest period, but here I am typing this blog post in early August feeling as strong as ever. Now I wonder what took me so long to truly take a break!

View on a run
I have signed up for a few races including a half in October; the Philadelphia Marathon is my A-race. My goal is the same as it has been the past few marathons: sub-2:55. I am confident that this time will be the charm. Patience will continue to be a virtue as I still do not have any speed. I have largely been working on strength and endurance. Coach Clifford will start adding in faster, more intense things about 10-12 weeks out from the marathon. Currently, my mileage is in the 70-75 mile/week range on six days (with one off or swim day) and it will likely get into the low 90's in late September/early October.

Off for my long run and a day of research,

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer 2013, so far

It is hard to believe that the summer is half way over! Productivity on the running, teaching, and research fronts have been solid.

In June I taught an introductory course in macroeconomics and had a great group. We continued to use Twitter to hone students' critical thinking and writing skills. With two semesters of using Twitter under my belt, I am working on a manuscript geared towards an economics education audience. One of my summer goals is to have that manuscript out by the first weeks of September.

Another manuscript in the works regards determinants of undergraduate satisfaction. Without revealing too much, I use a variety of analysis techniques, including factor analysis and decision trees, to investigate student satisfaction at a small liberal arts institution. One of my summer goals is to have the manuscript submitted by the first weeks of September.

June also marked the start of my first Summer Scholar project. Emma Webb `15 and I are working on a project to measure and enhance undergraduate wellness. Our project grant continues through the summer and many more details will come after its completion.

I am also working on updating the PowerPoint slides for the 12th edition of Dornbusch, Fisher, and Startz's Macroeconomics. It is an honor to be asked again to join the team for such a well respected intermediate textbook. The slides are due on July 15th. Publisher deadlines are very useful for getting things done.

Finally, I have a Faculty Summer Study Award from Roanoke College to analyze PPACA with respect to its impact on various markets including the labor and Rx markets. One purpose of this project is to enhance my spring semester Health Economics course. The process of carefully reading the bill is a slow one, but an important one for a health economist.

In the words of our PR "Superlady" Teresa at Roanoke College, I have been on a roll with respect to media hits this summer. I have been interviewed three times for articles in Everyday Health, once by a local TV channel WDBJ7, and once for an article on Links to each of those items can be found using the "Media" tab on this blog.

Looking ahead, I am going to Rutgers University next week for a three week research stint in which I will work on my depression and labor market project with Dr. William M. Rodgers III and piecing together a new project with Dr. Yana Rodgers regarding women's health in developing countries. That trip is always a joy not only because it is a time to focus solely on these joint projects, but also because these folks are such great friends.

On the running front after over a year of lackluster performances and frustrated training this lady is BACK! My coach, Tom Clifford, mandated two weeks of zero cardio in May. I had not taken that much time away from cardio since 7th grade! Clearly my body was receptive to the break and recovery as I am starting to feel like MAlice again. When I get tired in workouts I can dig deep; I get sore after each workout (something I have missed over the last year possibly because I was not able to push my body to that point); I smile when I run; I smile when I sweat...I had forgotten how wonderful it all was.

I have decided to run the Philadelphia Marathon in November with an aim of getting a PR (sub-2:57:18) and I genuinely believe that I can, that I will even. Now that I have my "grrr" back, my confidence is growing. I will be posting soon about some new training elements that Coach Tom has added to my training and the Hammer Nutrition and Brooks essentials that are getting me through the summer training, heat and humidity.

Happy summer,

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Management Institute Presentation

Tonight I had the opportunity to give a lecture on health economics to the 2013 class of the Roanoke College Management Institute. This was my second time giving this lecture and I thoroughly enjoyed the group and giving the talk.

Using advice from Dr. Ali Nazemi, the Director of the Institute, this year's lecture spent (much) less time on economic principles and more on application. The lecture defined health and health economics, discussed the connections between health and economic growth, and finished with the importance of health in the workplace.

The PowerPoint presentation can be found here:

Check it out, give me your feedback. Does your employer have a wellness program? I would love to hear about it.


Monday, March 4, 2013

The next John S. Shannon Professor of Economics, Roanoke College

I am so honored to have been named the next John S. Shannon Professor of Economics at Roanoke College. Dean Richard Smith and President Michael Maxey made the announcement a little over a week ago and I am still pinching myself to make sure that it is real. The announcement was as follows:
Dear members of the Roanoke campus community:
President Maxey and I are very pleased to announce that Dr. Alice Kassens has been selected as the John S. Shannon Professor of Economics. She will begin her five year appointment in August 2013. Dr. Kassens succeeds Dr. Garry Fleming who has held the professorship with distinction for the past five years.
The Shannon Professorship seeks to enhance faculty development in economics while also building interest and achievement in the field. It honors and supports a faculty member who is an outstanding teacher and accomplished scholar who is also thoroughly committed to enriching the lives of Roanoke students. Dr. Kassens was selected by President Maxey and me after careful and deliberative process that involved a faculty review committee. 
I hope that you will join President Maxey and me in congratulating Dr. Kassens. Roanoke College is fortunate to have her on its faculty. 
I was overwhelmed with the kind words from friends, faculty, staff, and alumni after the announcement.

The College released the following regarding Mr. Shannon and the Professorship:
John S. Shannon Professorship in Economics
"I have long felt that it's important to have some understanding of how markets work and their role in a free society," asserts Jack S. Shannon '52. To help promote that objective, he has funded the John S. Shannon Endowed Professorship in Economics.
After graduating from Roanoke with a B.S. in economics, Shannon received his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1955. He spent most of his career as a corporate lawyer in the railroad industry, serving as chief legal officer of Norfolk and Western Railway and its successor, Norfolk Southern Corporation, retiring in 1996. During the railway deregulation years, he was able to observe how market forces bring about the efficient allocation of assets and efforts, with resulting social benefits.
As a member of the College's Board of Trustees from 1974 to 2005, Shannon witnessed growth in enrollment, student body diversity, more credentialed faculty and academic recognition with the arrival of Phi Beta Kappa. His intent for the Shannon Professorship, he explains, is that it will "enhance faculty development in the area of economics and stimulate student interest and achievement in the field."
I have put many hours into promoting the Roanoke College Economics Program, a program that I cherish. Our students are second to none, and I am honored to help guide them through their undergraduate education. The professorship will permit much needed time for expanding my research agenda while maintaining my teaching and promotional efforts.

I look forward to meeting Mr. Shannon so that I can personally express my gratitude and I will work tirelessly to make the most of this wonderful opportunity.

Thank you,

February 2013 Virginia Consumer Sentiment and Inflation Expectation Report - PRNewswire version

One of my favorites jobs at Roanoke College is my work with the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research. Each quarter I produce the Virginia Consumer Sentiment and Inflation Expectations report. The latest report was released last Friday. The condensed version sent out via PRNewswire is below.

Roanoke College Poll: Virginia Consumer Sentiment and Inflation Expectations (via PR Newswire)

SALEM, Va., Nov. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Roanoke College Institute for Policy and Opinion Research (IPOR) surveyed 651 Virginians about their financial situation, general business conditions now and in the future, their inclination for purchasing durable goods, and their thoughts on prices in…

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Give me "something to believe in"

"Something to believe in" has always been one of my favorite songs. It is a staple on my iPod running playlist. The chorus has always spoken to me when I feel that I am fighting an uphill battle. For the past three years, these lyrics have taken on new meaning and bring tears to my eyes.
And give me something to believe in If there's a Lord above And give me something to believe in Oh, Lord arise ...I tried all night not to break down and cry As the tears rolled down my face I felt so cold and empty Like a lost soul out of place 
As many of you know I lost my father suddenly three years ago this coming Monday; a week ago today he was hospitalized. Each year since, as January draws to a close I feel a dark cloud closing in around me. I miss my father and think of him every day, but as February comes, marking another year I will not see him, laugh with him, I am overwhelmed with sadness and grief.

This year, as I trained for my 4th Quintiles Marathon at Wrightsville Beach, the sadness impaired my drive to push myself in workouts. I suppose my mind and body just didn't want to hurt any more than they already were; perhaps there is a physical and mental limit to pain the body can or will handle. I can't make the sadness of losing my father go away, but my body could shut down so that I could not impose pain through intense marathon workouts. Who knows, I'm certainly not the kind of doctor that understands these things.

It is times like these in which I am so very grateful for my husband, family, friends, coach, and teammates. I lean on them so much, often not disclosing why things seem so hard. I am so truly blessed to have these people in my life.

To get my head back in the game, my coach (Tom Clifford) gave me a series of challenges the past few weeks. The first was 30 x 400 meters at 5K effort which was moved to the hilly roads of Fincastle due to snow. He told me to think of having $100 bills in my pocket instead of $1 bills. It might sound silly, but I literally reached into my imaginary pocket and tossed out any $1 bills when negative thoughts creeped into my head...and it worked. The horses along the road looked at me with great interest when I released an enormous celebratory scream upon completing the workout.

This brings challenge #2. I typically race the half marathon at Myrtle Beach before Quintiles as a tune-up. Tom told me to race the 5K the night before racing the half marathon...WHAT? Tom was by my side for each event, even when another unexpected challenge came along: a massive pile-up and tumbling runners claiming both of us. Tom and I both ate pavement at the start of the 5K, a first for me. He pulled me up and we took off. Continuous comments like "Allie, I believe in you. You need to too" and "Now is the time to push; you got this" during the 5K drove me to a win, top 10 overall, and fastest 5K of the season. Dinner and laughs with Tom, Christa, and Josh topped off the night.

Saturday morning brought the half marathon. I was able to push through on tired legs and run a decent time. It was a huge confidence booster. After the race there was plenty of camaraderie with Without Limits friends.

I will leave Myrtle Beach with something to believe in and fewer tears rolling down my face. Having such an amazing support group of friends and family is invaluable. I am blessed. They have helped make running a therapy and release again and a refuge from grief and sadness.

Bring it on Quintiles!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

ASSA Annual Meeting, San Diego: Interviews, presentations, running, and friends

Early this morning I landed in Roanoke, VA after an exciting, but tiring, trip to San Diego. I attended the 2013 Allied Social Science Associations (ASSA) Annual Meeting. This is one of the largest and arguably the most prestigious academic conference in the world of economics. (We even had a cool app for our iPhones...that is big time.)

There were several purposes of the trip:
1. Interview candidates for the Assistant Professor of Economics (development and/or environmental preferable) opening in our program at Roanoke College. We (colleagues Dr. Garry Fleming and Dr. Edward Nik-Khah and I) interviewed nine candidates on Friday and Saturday that we selected from over 300 applications. The academic labor market for economics appears to be improving, although there is a surplus of PhD's.

2. Chair and present in a session sponsored by LERA:
The Impact of Mental and Emotional Health, Stress and Disability over the Business Cycle (Symposium)—Laguna

Chair: Alice Louise KassensRoanoke College
Presenters: Alice Louise KassensRoanoke College and William M. Rodgers IIIRutgers UniversityThe Impact of Clinical Depression on the Labor Market Outcomes of Young Adults during Economic Downturn
Samuel L. MyersUniversity of Minnesota and Ding SaiChinese Academy of Social SciencesThe Effects of Disability on Earnings in China and the United States over the Business Cycle
Tim M. Diette and Arthur H. GoldsmithWashington and Lee University and Darrick HamiltonThe New SchoolRevisiting the Long-Term Unemployment and Mental Health Causality Quandary: A New -- Resilient Population -- Approach and Results
John ChaissonThought Leadership InstituteA Study to Identify the Effects of Candidate and Employer Recessionary Stress on the Quality of Hire, Candidate Fit and Hiring Efficiency
Discussants: Alvin E. Headen, Jr.North Carolina State University
Lauren AppelbaumUniversity of California, Los Angeles

This session was special for several reasons. First, it was my first opportunity to present a paper at  ASSA which is a big professional accomplishment. Second, the composition of the group. William M. Rodgers III is not only my coauthor, but he was my undergraduate professor at The College of William and Mary and has played a tremendous role in my life (along with his amazingly brilliant wife, Yana). Al Headen was one of my professors in graduate school, and was the chair of my dissertation committee. Again, a person who has given me great advice over the years and is very special to me.

The session went smoothly and some interesting topics were discussed. Art Goldsmith had many thoughtful and useful comments for Bill and my work. The presentation that I gave is below if you want to check it out!

3. Connect with colleagues. Given Bill works at Rutgers, we have to make the most of opportunities to work face-to-face. We had two productive meetings, one before the presentation and one afterwards, to review our results and talk about next steps.

Saturday afternoon Bill brought me to the business meeting and book author celebration for the International Association for Feminist Economists (IAFFE). Yana is quite active in this organization and introduced me to many of the women of IAFFE after the meeting. I plan to join the group and hope to become a useful and productive member.

Saturday I had lunch with Al Headen between interviews. I adore his wit and if you listen carefully he is a wealth of information and advice. He is brilliant (PhD=MIT) and has a wealth of advice and experiences to share, but he does not force it on anyone. He generously offers it, but it is up to you to take the advice and run with it. He keeps me on my toes.

Of course, I made time for play! I got up around 5 am each morning to work and go for a run. Due to time constraints, I had to stick close to the hotel, but running in warm weather along the water beats the cold any day. Sunday night I hammered out 7 x mile tempo workout on Harbor Island. Perfect place for that workout: flat, along the water, and little traffic. I stuck to the main road that follows the water.
Ariel view of Harbor Island. 
Monday I did venture over to Balboa Park since the conference was over and I had more time. There are some mega-hills to climb to get there! The park itself is nice with amazing views of the mountains and water. There are some trails on either side of Florida Drive. I must say that I was not impressed. The trails we have in the Roanoke area are far superior. I am sure that there are many great trail systems in the San Diego area that I did not have time to hit.
One of the trails in Balboa Park
Finally, I was treated to dinner on Sunday night by my good friend Patti and her husband and daughter. I have not seen Patti in years and it was so wonderful to see her again. She is loving the San Diego life!

Next week, the spring 2013 semester begins. I have some new ideas for my Principles course and my Faculty Scholar Award begins. Updates coming soon.