The project started with a contract with the Center for Indian Country Development at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve.
First, we’re studying historic labor force participation trends for American Indians and Alaskan Natives. We focus on how changes in the male/female labor force participation gap differ by race.
Second, we’re studying enumeration issues within the census, for instance, how does the definition of different variables change over time, and how might that affect Native populations specifically?
Third, we’re creating a database called the Tribal Experience Database (TED), harmonizing raw geographic and economic data from 1980 to the present into something easily accessible for researchers to look at the economic outcomes of indigenous populations by tribe. This is important because differences between tribes have historically been overlooked when economic research is conducted, causing distinct indigenous populations to be lumped together.
What would you say to a younger student interested in economic research?
You should do economic research if you want a career in economics or public policy because it gives you practical experience others might not have. You get to see what being an economist is like firsthand. A big part of it is finding out what your research interests are; you might learn about research areas you never knew existed!
How do you think collaborating on this research project will help you in your career?
For my career, I want to earn a PhD in economics or applied economics and then lead economic research with a focus on gender. Working on this project has been so amazing because Kristine has let me take it in whatever direction I’m interested in and really own it. It’s improved my writing, presentation, critical thinking, and analysis skills so much. Before I started this project, I couldn’t use Stata at all. Now I’m really confident with my coding skills, and I feel like I can speak to them in job interviews. It’s also helped me meet people who will be good job connections. It’s taught me to meet deadlines for our stakeholders and present research for different audiences with varying levels of technical knowledge. This skill is really important in policy work!
Why is it important to have diverse voices in economics research?
It’s so important! Our economy is diverse, so it only makes sense to have a diverse population studying it. Right now, we primarily have white men running our economic systems. If we want to make our economic systems work better for women and people of color, we need to understand them first.
by Isabel Pastoor