For his 2014 Levitt Summer Research Fellowship Grant, Adam Pfander ’16 is working with Professor of Economics Paul Hagstrom to examine the employment opportunities of immigrants during the “Great Recession” of 2007-08. Pfander laid out three main goals for his project titled “Foreign-Born Labor Markets in Recession.” He hopes “to explain the impact of the recession on immigrant households; to discuss the impact of the recession on immigrant entrepreneurs; and finally, to analyze the role of immigrant ethnic-networks in buffering or exacerbating any of these effects.”
The Great Recession, sparked by the financial crisis of 2007 through 2008, caused a large reduction in economic output for much of the globe. One of the biggest concerns for the United States was its increased unemployment rate. Pfander hopes to discover whether the recession disproportionately affected employment among immigrant workers — were immigrants more likely to become unemployed or suffer pay-cuts? In addition, he is interested in how the recession may have changed the type of employment immigrants sought out. For example, did immigrants stay at hourly wage and salaried jobs or did they start their own businesses?
In order to answer these questions, Pfander began with a thorough exploration of the economics literature on the labor market for immigrants. The next step, he said, is to work with data from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to see how immigrants’ employment situations have changed since the onset of the Great Recession. He hopes to use this work to eventually develop a theoretical framework to model how recessions shape the employment opportunities of immigrants.
Pfander believes the research he and Professor Hagstrom are undertaking this summer is a necessary step to developing policy to alleviate any disproportionate effects of recessions on the immigrant population. Pfander said, “Understanding the impact of recessions on the most vulnerable segments of the population is key if we are to mitigate these effects in the future.”
Pfander is an economics major with a particular interest in recessions. However, as he noted, “Economics is more than a simple academic pursuit — it is a passion of mine, and I could not be happier to finally be doing real research on a pertinent topic.” Pfander appears keen to continue on in the field, stating, “If my ultimate career path entails economic research, I would be ecstatic.”
Adam Pfander ’16 is a graduate of Concord Academy, Mass.