I joined IDE in 2022 after a 32-year career teaching and researching development economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. I received my Ph.D. (Econ) from the Australian National University, an institution with a strong specialization in trade and development. That focus is especially relevant in Southeast Asia. This region’s economy has always been defined by trade and has been subjected to “shocks” from the global economy as far back as the 15th century. In the 21st century these shocks emanate from commodity markets, global value chains, investment and capital flows, and global macroeconomic crises. My research traces the effects of these external economic forces on economic growth, poverty alleviation, income distribution, employment, and investments in education and human capital. I am also interested in international economic influences on environment and the use of the region’s natural resources. Regionally I have worked mainly in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Most of my current research addresses questions about educational investments in economies that are growing and changing structure as the result of globalization. Exposure to global markets transforms the sectoral mix and skill intensity of labor demand. Resulting changes in earnings and skill premia may influence schooling decisions, especially for teenagers as they complete compulsory education and become legally able to join the wage labor force. The choice between continued schooling and blue-collar employment has lifetime consequences for individual earnings and mobility. It also affects future generations through parental transmission of income, wealth, and opportunity. I and my coauthors study school-work choices and intergenerational mobility using labor force data in Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Development economics is a field distinguished by close attention to institutions and economic deprivation. These often inhibit labor mobility over space or over occupations, with consequences for the distribution of gains from globalization and growth. My current research also examines the effects of constraints to mobility, whether from poverty, ethnicity, or social customs.