2018-2019 Publications


Dollar Stores in Illinois: Trading Areas, Consumer Behavior, and Impacts on Commercial Structure and Incumbent Retailers

The structure of the US retail sector is changing, the exit or closing rate of US malls has tripled in the last few years and the 25% of the remaining malls are expected to close in the next seven years (Zomok, 2018).

The Opioid Epidemic and its Impact on Labor Productivity in Illinois

Illinois’ labor force is shrinking at the rate of .24% per annum. Opioid-involved drug overdoses are contributing to this poor state of labor force, on average drug overdoses account for 17.2 deaths per 100,000 Illinoisans. This paper is an attempt to quantify the impact of opioid use on labor productivity. Results of a differential equation modeling of the opioid epidemic suggests that for every 1% increase in opioid prescriptions, the state will lose 4% of its labor productivity.

Natural Capital as an Economic Public Product: An Empirical Analysis of Illinois Counties

This paper addresses the question, “how do Illinois counties rank in terms of investments in natural capital”. A statistical modeling of county capability suggests that metro counties not only invest in natural capital, but also benefit from the investment by attracting more STEM-qualified employees / entrepreneurs to the county who engage in innovative, R&D activities.

Economic Capital of Illinois: An Empirical Analysis

This paper explores the contributions of market economy to sustainable development using the ‘capability theory’ framework. The operational (production of goods and services) and dynamic (innovation) capabilities of firms promote well being in communities, but not in an optimal manner; firms offer a number of low-paying jobs and economic growth often comes at huge costs to the environment. Public policy should be concerned with optimal economic growth; create jobs that pay a living wage and economic growth that is not (or least) harmful to the environment.

Social Capital Manifestations in Illinois Counties: An Empirical Assessment

Social capital refers to acts of cooperation between two or more individuals or groups. While cultural capital is embodied in persons, social capital exists in relations among persons. The economic benefit of social capital is its ability to reduce transaction costs associated with formal coordination mechanisms such as contracts. This paper shows that communities in which people find it easier to co-operate will have higher levels of social capital than communities where collaboration is more difficult.Steps that counties can take to enhance social capital in their region are outlined, but policymakers should recognize that social capital is often a byproduct of religion and other factors that are beyond their control. A software is provided for sustainability researchers and practitioners to estimate community capital for each of the 102 Illinois counties.

Cultural Capital in Illinois: A County-Wise Analysis

This paper is driven by the idea that cultural capital contributes to wellbeing. Empirical analysis of cultural capital suggests that children in Illinois are missing opportunities for cultural development;their caregivers spend very little time in educating them. The paper argues that children living in poverty cannot (and should not) be culturally acceptable to Illinois residents’.

Determinants of Sustainability and Human Capital

Knowledge and skills of a person are called ‘human capital’. A person’s stock of human capital is determined by her time-use choices. Based on the reasoning that policymakers must first learn what persons are already doing before designing public policies to enhance wellbeing, we focus on modeling people’s time-use choices across Illinois counties. Results suggest that persons without a high school or a college diploma do not spend much time on education or skill development activities.We have developed a software that shows how much workers in Illinois counties, the 25+ age group with different levels of qualifications, are investing in (and valuing) skill development. Policymakers can build on this research to help workers gain the most for their investments in education and training.

Sustainable Economic Development Indices (SEDI) for Illinois Counties

This paper addresses the question, “how effective are Illinois counties in converting wealth (GDP) into wellbeing of residents”. To address this question, a multi-item measure of wellbeing (SEDI) was constructed using publicly available data. Based on the multi-item measure, a wellbeing development index (WDI) was calibrated for each county. The SEDI and its derivative the WDI are relative measures, they highlight how a county performs relative to the entire universe of Illinois counties or individual peer groups (for example, economic development regions).To facilitate adaption of SEDI, a software is provided free for practitioners interested in assessing the wellbeing status of Illinois counties.

Living Wage Calculator for Illinois Counties

The living wage calculator is calibrated on consumer expenditure data sourced from both public and private agencies. Major sources of data are BLS, HUD, and USDA. The calculator models living wages for households with members of varying ages. As far as we are aware, this is the first, publicly available living wage calculator that uses information from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to deduce income tax implications for wage earners.

Economic Development Strategy for the Greater Peoria Region, Illinois: Insights from Growth Accounting and Decision Theory

This paper highlights strategies for establishing and maintaining a robust economic ecosystem in the Greater Peoria region. The strategic advantage of the region is deduced from an empirical analysis of the region’s national accounts and multifactor productivity statistics. A decision theory modeling of the empirical results suggests that manufacturing sector should be the focus for economic development.

Determinants of Economic Growth in Illinois: An Empirical Analysis

This paper presents growth-accounting results for Illinois. It is shown that growth in GDP is mainly driven by labor and capital. The role of technology in GDP growth is minimal or none.

Thirty Years of IIRA’s Rural Research Reports: A Thematic Analysis

This paper employs a machine-learning algorithm to analyze the words of all the Rural Research Reports published since 1990 to discover the themes that run through them. The results are then built into an interactive computer application through which one can explore and examine the publications (Rural Research Reports) related to the themes.


A Microanalysis of Carpooling in Rural Illinois

The concept of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) has long been an attraction for policymakers wanting to minimize greenhouse gas emissions (cf. the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, 1991 (Jaskevich 2001)). Since carpooling reduces the number of single-occupancy vehicles (SOV) on the road, research is needed to identify approaches that would be useful in increasing carpools (Burbank and Brinckerhoff (2009)).

Entrepreneurial Intensity

A common prescription for community economic development is to stimulate entrepreneurship (Audretsch 2007; Herman, 2018). This prescription is largely derived from global data that shows positive correlations between the entrepreneurial activity of nations and their GDPs.