The San Francisco Fed’s Economic Research Department congratulates two researchers—Aina Krupinski Puig and Hina Usman—as the authors of the essays selected in our first “Unlocking Our Potential” graduate student essay contest.
The selected student essays explored topics of economic inequity through different lenses. Born in Barcelona and currently living in Washington, DC, Puig, a macroeconomics PhD student specializing in inequality topics at American University, focused on the impact of monetary policy through interest rates on spending patterns among different types of U.S. households, differentiated by gender and race. Usman, who is originally from Lahore, Pakistan, is a fifth-year PhD candidate in applied microeconomics at University of California, Irvine, whose essay examined whether economic insecurity fuels racially motivated crimes in the United States.
“These essays help shed new light on the impact of gender and racial inequities, which have a real economic cost for every American,” said SF Fed Research Director Sylvain Leduc. “We applaud these students’ contributions to this important area of scholarship.”
The essay contest’s goal of exploring fresh perspectives on these topics is a part of San Francisco Fed’s commitment to better understand the economy’s potential in support of the Fed’s maximum employment mandate.
How does monetary policy affect households differently?
In studying the effects of interest rates on different types of households, Puig found that demographic groups respond differently to changes in interest rates. This is reflected through different spending patterns between women and men and between Black and white-headed households. Her analysis suggests that households with mortgages, those with women as head of the household, and those headed by white people drive overall consumption responses.
Puig said, “I think it is important to be aware of these distributional impacts to better target policies and ensure that they support the well-being of all people.”
Puig will visit the San Francisco Fed as a Research Scholar this summer to expand her research through working with staff before returning to her doctoral studies.
Does economic insecurity fuel racially motivated crime?
In her research, Usman focuses on how policies and economic factors can impact the ways in which marginalized people—including minorities, incarcerated individuals, and women—can integrate more fully into mainstream society.
In her essay with coauthor Usman Ghaus, Hina models how economic insecurity affects racially motivated crime. She noted, “The focus of this study stems from a common belief in popular media that non-natives steal jobs from natives and negatively affect the economy.”
Beginning with unemployment data to determine existing levels of economic insecurity, the authors compared how the incidence of hate crimes following September 11, 2001, differed according to levels of economic insecurity. County-level data suggest that those counties with higher unemployment experienced more hate crimes compared to more economically secure counties with lower unemployment.
Usman will present her work to the SF Fed remotely and continue to refine her research as she works toward completing her doctoral dissertation at UC Irvine and preparing to enter the job market in January 2023.
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