Students and faculty from The ECON LAB present at a national conference

Student researchers Theo Bookheimer and Eric Lee along with Professors Alice Kassens and Michael Enz shared their experiences, challenges, and adaptations made during the move from in person to online courses over the pandemic as a panel at the 32nd Annual Teaching Economics Conference hosted by Robert Morris University. Watch and hear what they shared. The format was a prepared Q and A between the faculty and students so each perspective is explored.

You can watch it here:

Researcher: George Gilbert

George Gilbert is a senior Economics major who is also getting concentrations in finance and accounting and is a member of the Men’s Lacrosse Team. After working at a car dealership, he became curious about the economic impact of COVID on that industry. In his own words:

“I will be examining the impact with which the pandemic has had on the automotive industry as a whole. The pandemic has brought the US economy back into its first recession since 2008. During the 2008 recession, the automotive industry was crushed. But, in 2020 the response to this recession has been quite different. Car sales have surpassed recent years and many car dealerships are on pace to break company records, even with many of them being shut down for some period of time. Not only will I be looking at the cause of this, but I will also be looking at the change in the market for cars, and determining whether or not prices have changed due to this increase in demand. Lastly, I will look at the downstream effect of the shutdown on automotive manufacturing and if this has also impacted the price and market for cars in 2020.”
-George Gilbert

Researcher: Eric Lee

Eric Lee is a senior majoring in Actuarial Science and minoring in economics. He is from Archbald, PA and recently accepted a job at Geico for his life after Roanoke College. There he will be analyzing all kinds of data. With The ECON LAB he is investigating mental health during the pandemic.

In his own words:

“When brainstorming research ideas for this semester, I wanted to think about what the biggest effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been on myself and the people around me. There are certainly many ways that the pandemic has negatively impacted individuals and the economy. However, I have chosen to focus on the effects that the pandemic has had on the mental health of Americans. This topic is very important to me because of the number of close friends I have seen in a very poor mental state since this began.

            As a basic first step, the data that was put out by the CDC’s Household Pulse Survey will be analyzed. This data does not include many variables (only symptoms of depression and anxiety), but it can be broken up by age, race, education level and state. This could allow for some basic analysis. For example, did some states or age groups experience worse mental health outcomes than others? I would be particularly interested to see if people of varying education levels were affected differently.

            I also plan on analyzing how mental health was affected by past recessions and making predictions about this recession since there is not much data yet available. Most importantly, I will analyze how the Great Recession of 2008 affected people’s mental health. Using data from BRFSS and other sources, I am sure that I will be able to break people up into similar groups as the Household Pulse Survey did this year. This could allow for comparisons to see if people are reacting similarly thus far, or if mental health outcomes are different due to the fact that this recession is associated with a viral pandemic.

            The goal of this research will be to illuminate how people are affected mentally by crises that are out of their control. There are important questions at the heart of this: are worse mental health outcomes a definite result of recessions and financial crises? Is there anything that can be done to lessen the impact of these events on the mental health of Americans? Hopefully, this research can begin to answer to some of these, or at least begin a discussion that could lead to further research being done on this topic.”