Lisa Tarquinio joins Department of Economics

July 15, 2021

Lisa Tarquinio, Assistant Professor, Department of EconomicsLisa Tarquinio has joined the Department of Economics.

Tarquinio researches development economics, drawing in information and research related to climate change, political economy, and migration.

Tarquinio is interested in how governments respond to natural disasters that affect households, such as floods or droughts. In a recent paper, she researched the effectiveness of drought relief programs in India; measuring whether the programs were targeted to the areas experiencing the most environmental shock. The study showed that relief often goes to areas where no drought has occurred. Tarquinio further examined what this disproportionate relief means for economic recovery in drought affected areas.

“With predictions of increased rainfall variability in India, what we can learn about relief and the response today can help us mitigate the impacts in the future,” she said. “There is good evidence that developing countries will be more significantly affected by climate change,” due both to differences in the ability to respond to more extreme weather and how often this severe weather may occur.

A country’s level of development can greatly impact the response to climate change. Tarquinio noted that developing countries may see higher death and injury rates due to extreme weather. Lack of access to financial services or private insurance will mean government sponsored relief programs will become more important. Finally, more people in developing countries are economically dependent on agricultural production, which will be impacted by changing climate.

In her work focused on migration, Tarquinio and her co-authors measured the effect of immigration in the United States at the county level on changes in measures of local innovation and economic growth in the same area. They used historical immigration data on waves of immigration to the United States to understand how immigration affects local areas.

“You should always be concerned when trying to estimate the impact of immigration on an area that there might be pre-existing conditions that both bring in immigration and affect growth,” said Tarquinio, noting that it can be unclear whether immigration is causing economic growth or whether economic growth leads to increased interest to migrate.

In her work, she found that immigration does lead to an increase in patenting, as well as the job creation rate and wage growth, pointing to the positive effects of immigration on local counties.

While she approaches the issues through an economic lens, Tarquinio is excited to work with political scientists and geographers in the faculty.

“I’ve previously worked with engineers, geographers and economists,” she said. “People could have interest in similar issues but from different perspectives and derive different outcomes.”