Center for Global and Economic Studies

Marburg Memorial Lecture

The lecture series is named in honor of the late Theodore F. Marburg, a long-time member of the economics department. The goal of the Marburg Memorial Lecture is to provide a forum for the discussion of moral, philosophical and social dimensions of economic issues, as well as continue Professor Marburg’s commitment to the economic aspects of peace and justice. The Marburg Lecture is made possible by the generosity of the Marburg family and through the support of the Center for Global and Economic Studies.

October 27, 2015

"Pregnancy, Causality and Economics"

Dr. Emily Oster
Associate professor of economics
Brown University

Research on the value of health behaviors, once the lone purview of doctors and medical journals, is increasingly available to consumers from the Internet and media coverage. What is often missing is a serious look at whether the relationships in data are really causal ones. Does drinking a lot of coffee lengthen your life, as some studies suggest? Or is it just that the kind of people who drink a lot of coffee live longer for other reasons?

Noted health economist Dr. Emily Oster will discuss these issues in the context of her recent book on pregnancy, her writing on other health data and her academic research on inferring causality in the face of confounding variables.

The author of Expecting Better, a book on using data to make better pregnancy decisions, Oster is also featured in Steve Levitt’s second book, SuperFreakonomics, for her work on television and female empowerment in India. In 2007, she gave a TED Talk on reducing the spread of HIV in Africa.  She is also a frequent columnist on FiveThirtyEight.

An associate professor of economics at Brown University, Oster was previously an associate professor of economics in the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She received her bachelor’s degree and doctoral degree from Harvard in 2002 and 2006, respectively.

Previous Marburg Lectures

2014-2015 Professor Edward Glaeser, Harvard University, "Triumph of the City" - watch video
Cities are often seen as the source of social problems such as poverty and crime, while we retain romantic notions of idyllic rural life. The truth is very different. In this lecture, Professor Edward Glaeser, the world’s leading expert in the economics of cities, will discuss why cities are crucial to economic development, why proximity has become ever more valuable as the cost of connecting across long distances has fallen and why, contrary to popular myths, dense urban areas are the true friends of the environment, not suburbia.

2013-2014 - Harvard University Professor of Economics Raj Chetty - watch video
Prof. Chetty is one of the authors of a groundbreaking new study on upward mobility in America. The study examined data from cities across the country, and found that the chances of poor children’s climbing the economic ladder were considerably higher in some places than others. Prof. Chetty’s research focuses on what he calls “equality of opportunity: how can we give children from disadvantaged backgrounds better chances of succeeding”

2012-2013 - Prof. John A. List - watch video
Department of Economics, University of Chicago
Using the world as his sandbox, Prof. List tells us why women get paid less than men, how we can shrink the racial achievement gap in one minute, and what seven words can end discrimination. Dr. List has been one of the pioneers in the development and use of field experiments in economics. A field experiment evaluates the market behavior of participants, but instead of these actions taking place in an artificial laboratory setting, the field experiment is conducted in the normal market setting for the participant.

2011-2012 - Dr. Ronald G. Ehrenberg - watch video...
An expert in the economics of higher education, Ehrenberg has served as a consultant to faculty and administrative groups and trustees at a number of colleges and universities on issues relating to tuition and financial aid policies and other budgetary and planning issues. In 2002, he wrote Tuition Rising, an examination of the American higher education system. While in Milwaukee, Dr. Ehrenberg also was interviewed by the Journal Sentinel on the topic of rising tuition. 

2010-2011 - Dr. Robert Putnam
Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University Dr. Putnam discussed American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. Professor Putnam and Professor Daniels, co-director of the CGES, were interviewed for the Marquette Difference Network. 

2009 - Professor Marianne Ferber
Department of Economics      
University of Illinois, Urbana

2008 - Professor James P. Ziliak, Gatton Chair in Microeconomics
Director, Center for Poverty Research
University of Kentucky

2007 - Professor Solomon W. Polachek
Departments of Economics and Political Science
State University of New York at Binghamtom

2006 - Professor Jerry Evensky
Department of Economics
Maxwell School of Syracuse University

2005 - Mr. Chris Lowney
Author & Special Assistant to President
Catholic Medical Mission Board

2004 - Dr. Laurence Iannaccone, Professor
Department of Economics
George Mason University

2000 - Dr. Ransford W. Palmer, Professor
Department of Economics
Howard University  

1998 - Dr. Herman E. Daly, Scholar in Residence
University of Maryland
School of Public Affair

1997 - Dr. Marilyn Moon, Senior Fellow
Health Policy Center of the Urban Institute

1995 - Fr. William Byron, S.J., Director
Center for the Advanced Study of Ethics
Georgetown University