The department faculty conducts multi-disciplinary research on a wide range of topics. The following list is instructive but in no way exhaustive of the areas in which research is conducted.
- Economic Theory
- Development Economics (using tools of Applied Microeconomics)
- Environmental Economics
Summary of Fields of Research and Faculty Groups:
- Economic Theory Group
Economic Theory research in the department focuses mainly on topics in Mechanism Design and Information Economics. Questions related to the structure of socio-economic institutions, ways to improve them, and their implications for society at large motivates research in this area. More specifically, theory research concerns designing optimal 'rules of the game' tailored to meet pre-defined objectives. Consider the example of auctions that are widely used to distribute rights for use of spectrum, mining, and a plethora of other resources. Rules related to auctions are designed by keeping in mind objectives that can range from encouraging competition among bidders to generating maximum revenue for the auctioneer. The efficient design of rules allows the achievement of well-defined objectives or at least an outcome close to the desired objective. Designs may be affected further by the availability of information on part of the bidder, or the auctioneer, or both. Other branches of research in Economic Theory focuses on the design of institutions that need to aggregate individual preferences (eg. implementing a policy based on voting).
Moving away from Microeconomic Theory which relates to the topics described above, the department also conducts research pertaining to applied mathematics and theories of optimization.
- Macroeconomics Group
Macroeconomics research at SNU focuses mainly on topics related to emerging markets. To this end, and in contrast to many other economics departments in the country, dynamic general equilibrium models are used to conduct research. These models combined with data at various levels have strong implications for macroeconomic policy. Some areas of research include topics in monetary policy, sovereign/consumer debt, default, and their political economy implications. Other topics are related to the evaluation and determination of optimal institutions such as fiscal rules and the determination of optimal tax policy.
Furthermore, the availability of firm and plant-level data for emerging markets in recent years has spurred macroeconomic research related to the evolution and distribution of productivity. Different from microeconomic research, dynamic general equilibrium models can inform of various second-order effects that may be significant to the macroeconomy not only in the short run but in the long run as well.
- Development Economics Group
This research group focuses on various areas of Development Economics using tools of Applied Microeconomics. The core areas in which research is carried out are as follows.
- Economics of Education: Topics on which past and ongoing work are being carried out include inter-caste marriage and education, gendered stream choice, educational loans, gendered peer effects in education, etc.
- Health Economics: The faculty is currently working on topics like the effect of disease eradication on health outcomes, electoral cycles on health outcomes, policies enhancing access to healthcare facilities, etc.
- Labor Economics: Current and past projects in this field include job polarization in Indian labor markets, the evolution of labor market gaps across religious groups, etc.
- Political Economy: Research topics include affirmative action, female voting, transparency in public good provision, governance issues, etc.
- Topics on Inequality in access to resources based on gender, class, caste, and networks.
The above list is indicative of a great deal of overlap. This allows for synergies among the group members.
- Environmental Economics Group
The environmental economics group at SNU focuses on multi-disciplinary research that brings scientific aspects of environmental phenomena into the field of economics. Needless to say that the impact of environmental factors on the economy has several long-term consequences. The group identifies such areas and works on relevant research questions that are of interest to stakeholders in the policy circles. Some current research themes are
- Enhancing environmental and livelihood resilience through protecting eco-systems and bio-diversity: The focus is on regional ecosystems such as wetlands and forests, and on communities deriving a livelihood from them. These aspects are increasingly getting interlinked and form an important area of research.
- Political economy of environmental policy and management: This area deals with the design and implementation of policies such as Payments for ecosystem services, carbon taxes, etc. Such policies can go a long way in mitigating environmental degradation and meet the UN's sustainable development goals (SDGs). However, they can create discord among community members on issues related to unequal distribution of resources or endowments. Working out the best implementable solution requires integrating political economy aspects with the problem at hand.
- Political economy of climate change mitigation and adaptation: Climate change mitigation requires working on managing common property resources and efficient utilization of groundwater among other things. Conflicting interests create inequality and result in mismanagement. Integrating political economy aspects into such problems also provides important insights.