Each summer, St. Kate’s students work as research assistants for the Economics and Political Science Department. Faculty hire students who are economics, political science, data science, or related majors to collaborate on research projects. Summer research jobs allow students to explore their fields and provide them with skills to prepare them for their future careers — all while getting paid.
This summer, eight students were working on research projects. On Thursday, July 23, the Minnesota Center for Diversity in Economics (MCDE) held a virtual luncheon for these students to present their summer research projects to the St. Kate’s community. The topics covered were: (1) gender dimensions of forced displacement, (2) the Sudan Labor Market Panel Survey, (3) adolescent sleep and elementary enrollment, and (4) discrimination in the Twin Cities rental market.
Isabel Pastoor presented on Gender Dimensions and Forced Displacement of Syrian Refugee Adolescents in Jordan. She has been assisting University of Minnesota’s Dr. Ragui Assaad and St. Kate’s Dr. Caroline Krafft on this project. They are in the preliminary stages of their research, but have been analyzing data to look into how gender attitudes mediate gendered outcomes among Syrian refugee adolescent girls in Jordan. Specifically, they are examining views on women’s mobility, domestic violence, as well as decision making. These dimensions reveal the status of Syrian refugee girls in Jordan. Once there is a better understanding of the position of adolescent refugee girls, the team can begin to formulate the most effective policies to improve gender equality.
Leena Sebastin, Solveigh Johnson, Audrey Mutanhaura, and Ruby Cheung presented on the Sudan Labor Market Panel Survey (SLMPS). They are assisting Dr. Caroline Krafft on this project. Dr. Ragui Assaad is co-leading the overall project as well. The team is programming the Sudan Labor Market Panel Survey to collect detailed information that they can use for in depth, multi-dimensional analyses of economic and labor market issues in Sudan. These analyses then can be used to create future policies to improve Sudan’s labor market and economy. This survey is needed because very little data is available to the public on Sudan — especially about labor markets. There are also questions geared towards gender and assets, so they can study economic power in the household. The students went in-depth about what steps need to be taken to program this survey in ODK-X. The team plans to have the survey completely programmed by the end of August and have it out in the field this fall.
Olivia Matzke presented on Unintended Tradeoffs: Adolescent Sleep vs. Elementary Enrollment. She worked on this project with St. Kate’s student Emma Kettle, Macalester students Lizzy Burton, Emma Curchin, Jessica Brown, and St. Paul Public Schools student Adri Arquin. St. Kate’s Dr. Kristine West and Macalester’s Dr. Lesley Lavery led this project. The team studied the impact of enrollment when start times were changed in St. Paul public schools--later for high schoolers, earlier for middle and elementary schoolers. St. Paul changed the start times in 2019 because of studies that showed later start times improved health outcomes for adolescents. Unfortunately, due to transportation issues, some elementary schools had to move to an earlier start time because of a later start time for high schoolers. The team found that there’s been a decline in enrollment in St. Paul Public Schools due to the earlier start times for elementary and middle schoolers. Going forward, they plan to write up a research note and create a summer scholars poster.
Last but not least, Karisa Johnson presented on Discrimination in the Twin Cities Rental Market. She worked on this project with St. Kate’s student Emily Young and St. Thomas students Mumtas Mohamed, Giang Nguyen, and Cheyanne Simpson. Their team was led by St. Kate’s Marina Mileo Gorzig, PhD and St. Thomas’s Deborah Rho, PhD. The team studied what impact Ban the Box is having on the Twin Cities rental market — specifically if it is increasing discrimination or not. Ban the Box is an initiative intended to lessen discrimination against those with a criminal record by taking off of applications the box one would check to indicate they are an ex-offender. However, Karisa highlights that in the labor market, where Ban the Box has been enacted, economists have seen an increase in discrimination against Black and Latinx men due to employers relying on stereotypes. She goes on to point out that a history of redlining and racial covenants in Minneapolis already affects who can get housing in different parts of the city. The team did find that there was rental discrimination. The response rate by landlords for white Americans was higher and more positive than for Somali-Americans and African-Americans. They are still collecting data and are looking forward to analyzing it further.
Each of these research projects is working to create a more socially just world. The Economics and Political Science Department is dedicated to giving students the opportunity to do work that is meaningful and acquire the skills necessary for their future careers.