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Trumbull News Detail

Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar to Speak About Inequality at Birth

Posted Oct. 15, 2012
enter photo description
Professor of Economics and Public Affairs
Janet Currie will visit Kent State University on
Oct. 15 and 16
as part of the Phi Beta Kappa
Visiting Scholar Program.

Janet Currie, Ph.D., Henry Putnam professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, will visit Kent State University on Oct. 15 and 16 as part of the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program. Currie will meet informally with students and faculty members, take part in classroom discussions and give a public lecture that is free and open to the entire academic community and general public.

Currie’s lecture, titled “Inequality at Birth: Some Causes and Consequences,” will take place on Monday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m. in Room 100 at the College of Business Administration.

Recent research shows that health at birth is affected by many factors, including maternal education, behaviors and participation in social programs. In turn, endowments at birth are predictive of adult outcomes and of the outcomes of future generations. Exposure to environmental pollution is one potential determinant of health at birth that has received increasing attention. A large amount of literature outside of economics advocates for “environmental justice,” and argues that poor and minority families are disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards.

In this lecture, Currie will provide new evidence on this issue, showing that children born to less educated and minority mothers are more likely to be exposed to pollution in utero and that white, college-educated mothers are particularly responsive to changes in environmental amenities. She estimates that differences in exposure to toxic releases may explain six percent of the gap in incidence of low birth weight between infants of white, college-educated mothers, and infants of black high-school dropout mothers.

Currie is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program whose goal is to contribute to the intellectual life of universities with Phi Beta Kappa chapters. Each visiting scholar spends two days on campus exchanging ideas, experiences and research with faculty and students.

The College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business Administration and College of Public Health are sponsoring the visit and lecture. For more information, visit www.kent.edu/business or call 330-672-2367.