BFI NewsNov 10, 2021

BFI Announces Expanded International Economics and Economic Geography Research Initiative

Initiative to support research on the economic links between countries, regions, and urban neighborhoods

The Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago is pleased to announce a new initiative to support research in international economics and economic geography. Led by Brent Neiman, Edward Eagle Brown Professor of Economics at Chicago Booth, and Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor at the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, this initiative expands the scope and replaces the previous International Economics Initiative.

Cross-border flows of goods and cross-border holdings of stocks and bonds have grown rapidly in recent decades. Nearly all major companies import some of their intermediate inputs from foreign suppliers and obtain some of their capital funding from foreign investors. In today’s interconnected world, events that start in one country can quickly impact economies all across the globe.

These links are not only increasingly relevant across countries, but also across the regions and neighborhoods within them. Trade policy, for example, has unequal effects across states and cities with different sectoral specialization. Top companies have expanded geographically to offer their products in a larger set of local markets, and we have seen increasing polarization of skills across cities as educated agents migrate to large urban areas. A selected group of urban hubs increasingly concentrates cognitive occupations and innovation.

“I am thrilled to be joining this newly reorganized initiative to study the myriad of economic issues and policy problems that involve interactions of individuals and firms across space,” said Rossi-Hansberg. “Our ability to model and understand these urban, regional, and international issues has grown tremendously and we hope that this initiative will be the world’s main hub for this research in the future.”

The International Economics and Economic Geography Initiative brings together prominent University of Chicago faculty whose research informs these crucial topics and facilitates application of leading academic frameworks to real-world policy analysis.

“Given the speed at which the global economic landscape is changing and the constantly improving access to granular data from cities, regions, and countries all over the world, the need and opportunity for rigorous research in international economics and economic geography is as great as ever,” said Neiman. “Through marquee events and various forms of faculty support, we plan to create an environment that fosters novel and impactful work.”

In addition to hosting events that bring together leading economists, including the annual International Macro Finance and monthly Trade & Spatial Afternoons, the initiative will support research grants. Grants are intended to support a number of research activities, including the purchase of new data sets and software, research assistants, and travel. When published, the insights gleaned from this research and data will have real-world impacts across a variety of topics and fields of study.

“Brent and Esteban are some of the best the field has to offer when it comes to international economics and economic geography. With their expertise and leadership, I have no doubt this initiative will succeed in producing new insights and pushing the field forward,” said Erik Hurst, the Frank P. and Marianne R. Diassi Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at Chicago Booth and Deputy Director of BFI.

For more information on the International Economics and Economic Geography Initiative, click here.