Joaquin Blaum was familiar with the research coming out of Brown’s Department of Economics long before he arrived on College Hill this summer. When he was trying to decide on a topic for his Ph.D. thesis at MIT, Blaum says, a paper on inequality by Oded Galor, professor of economics, resonated with him and sent him off on a research path that would eventually become his dissertation. “When I had the chance to come here, I didn’t hesitate. It was a natural choice for me and a good fit,” Blaum says.
The native Argentinian describes his research as a cross between macroeconomics and development economics. It focuses on one particular issue: How inequality affects the supply side of the economy, including the decisions firms make about hiring labor, investing in capital, and when and where to set up their businesses.
Blaum says the way in which wealth is distributed within a country can have implications for the overall degree of production efficiency. Thus, development is not just a matter of having more capital, but also has to do with the way capital is used. Using empirical data and mathematical modeling, Blaum seeks to determine the effect that wealth inequality can have on per capita income.
Similarly, Blaum is currently working on a paper that examines how financial frictions can explain the differences in growth across various sectors in the United States during the last 60 years, where output growth has been more rapid in sectors that are more capital intensive.
Blaum earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in economics from Universidad Di Tella in Buenos Aires before coming to the United States for his Ph.D. at MIT in 2006. Starting in January 2013, Blaum will co-teach a core macroeconomics class in the Ph.D. program with David Weil, professor of economics, in addition to an advanced macroeconomics class. In the fall of the 2013-14 academic year, Blaum will also teach an undergraduate macroeconomics class. Blaum has held several prior teaching assistant positions, both in Argentina and at MIT and says he looks forward to the varying experiences that teaching students on all academic levels will bring.
“I’m very excited. With grad students you can teach papers that you want to learn as well, so it’s sort of a joint venture in which everybody learns. With undergrads, it’s a different experience but there is the challenge of motivating them and making them like it. With my field, it’s easy to do that. You just need to spark some interest within the students.”