Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

The La Follette School Seminar Series engages participants in discussion of a range of public policy issues and showcases the research of faculty from the La Follette School, other UW-Madison departments, and outside the UW-Madison community. Faculty, students, and visitors take part in lively dialogue about topics such as poverty and welfare, health, education, international affairs, trade and finance, and the environment. For more information, email Associate Professor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..   

Unless otherwise noted, all presentations are from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the La Follette School of Public Affairs, 1225 Observatory Drive, and there is no cost to attend. Please check back periodically for the most current information.

Wednesday, Sept. 25
The Unobserved Returns from Entrepreneurship
Sarada, Assistant Professor, Wisconsin School of Business

An assistant professor of management and human resources, Sarada will discuss her empirical study of the risk-return tradeoff faced by entrepreneurial households. The study provides an alternate perspective to a longstanding empirical puzzle: that most entrepreneurs persevere despite persistently low earnings and earnings growth.

Because entrepreneurial earnings are notoriously difficult to measure, instead of focusing solely on individual labor income, Sarada approaches the question from a household welfare angle. She looks at how the switch into self-employment corresponds to changes in reported earnings and hours worked at the individual level, and in expenditure and wealth at the household level.

Using longitudinal data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics that spans 47 years, Sarada found that while individuals reported earning on average 26 percent less in self-employment, their household expenditure was 3.6 percent higher. This expenditure premium accrues over time with experience in self-employment and is not offset by lower savings, higher uncertainty, or longer work hours. Restricting the analysis to two subsamples: a) those with at least 16 years of schooling and b) those who go on to incorporate, yields the same qualitative results.

Wednesday, Sept. 18
The Influence of Early-life Economic Shocks on Long-term Outcomes: Evidence from the U.S. Great Depression
Lauren Schmitz, Assistant Professor, La Follette School of Public Affairs

Assistant Professor Lauren Schmitz, who joined the La Follette School faculty in fall 2019, will discuss her research about how physical health, psychological wellbeing, and productivity around retirement age varies with exposure to economic conditions in early life.

Using state-year-level variation from the most severe and prolonged economic downturn in U.S. history—the Great Depression—combined with restricted micro-data from the Health and Retirement Study, Schmitz and colleagues find that changes in employment at the year-of-birth induced significant changes in economic wellbeing, metabolic syndrome, depressive symptoms, and limitations in performing activities of daily living around age 60.

The researchers show that these effects are not driven by endogenous responses throughout the 1930s and that they likely represent lower bound estimates of the true impacts. The findings of their paper have important implications for the design of retirement and healthcare systems and for assessing the costs of business cycles.

Past Seminars