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Economics center adds two new faculty affiliates to its roster

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Mario Crucini

The Purdue University Research Center in Economics (PURCE) is pleased to announce the addition of two new faculty affiliates. Professors Mario Crucini and Colin Sullivan joined us in August 2021, and the Krannert School of Management and PURCE are glad to welcome them to Purdue University.

Mario Crucini is professor and Semler Chair in the Department of Economics. He has studied business cycles across countries for more than three decades, and is excited about a new area of his research examining the growth and business cycle experiences of different locations within the United States. 

“It turns out that the presumption that all or most locations of the U.S. follow the same basic growth and recession patterns is untrue,” Crucini says. “Understanding the extent of this, its causes and potential cures, is essential to understanding U.S. income inequality.”

Examples of this in Crucini’s recent work include the tradeoffs of health and economics in the application of national, state and local stay-at home orders; the extent to which the $800 billion stimulus package by the Obama administration helped counties most negatively affected by the Great Recession; and an exploration of the large loan program to business, administered by the Small Business Administration under the recent CARES Act.

Crucini was most recently at Vanderbilt University, where he was a tenured professor and director of the Center for International Price Research. In addition to his work on business cycles, he has published important research on savings behavior, investment, exchange rates, tariffs, and U.S. monetary policy. He is a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a senior fellow at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and an associate editor of the Journal of Monetary Economics.

“Mario is one of the leading macroeconomists in the country,” says PURCE Kozuch Director Kevin Mumford. “He gives PURCE an increased ability to analyze the effects of important federal government policy changes and communicate with government and community leaders.”

Crucini earned his PhD in Economics at the University of Rochester. He taught at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the Stern School of Business at New York University, and The Ohio State University.

Of his teaching philosophy, Crucini says he likes to combine economic models with data and relate them to public policy discussions.

“Students have much more data available at their fingertips these days, and moving from the data as seamlessly as possible to the models helps them to organize their thinking about economic theory and policy in a similar way to how trends in temperature and rainfall and severe weather have motivated students to think about the causes and consequences of climate change,” he says.

Crucini is a strong believer in learning-by-doing, “such that students follow the process from beginning to end in making an argument without simply being told the answers,” he says. “I also do not shy away from those areas in which answers are incomplete or highly debatable. Those areas, after all, are where researchers spend most of their time exploring.”

He wants his students to be “peers in the economic forensic investigations, not just consumers of the results.”

Colin Sullivan is an assistant professor of economics who comes to Purdue with degrees from the University of Chicago, Harvard University, and the Wharton School, where he earned his PhD in Applied Economics. He most recently was a postdoctoral fellow in Stanford University’s economics department.

“Colin is an outstanding economist doing important policy work on discrimination, hiring practices, and organ transplant policy. We are fortunate to have him joining us,” Mumford says.

Sullivan’s research uses experiments and observational data to understand how markets work, and how to improve them. He focuses on matching markets, “where prices are not the only thing that determines who gets what,” Sullivan says. “For example, patients can't pay for organ donations in the U.S., which results in a shortage of organs for transplant. One branch of my research studies how to allocate this scarce supply of lifesaving organs.”

Sullivan also designs experiments to understand what drives hiring discrimination and how to increase labor market access. He is working on a project to identify whether paternalism contributes to discrimination in hiring decisions.


“Laws around the world intending to protect women from danger actually prevent women from accessing job markets,” he says. “Do employers prefer to hire men because they imagine the job might be dangerous or uncomfortable for women? If employers discriminate to protect women, our typical policies for increasing female labor market access may be ineffective or counterproductive.”


This idea, called “paternalistic discrimination,” may play a role in many hiring contexts, especially in developing countries, Sullivan says.


He wants his students to see “economics in action” in the world around them.


“For many students, economics can seem daunting and distant from their everyday lives,” Sullivan says. “I strive to make the tools of economic analysis intuitive and accessible, drawing on topical issues and current policy debates to illustrate concepts, and encouraging students to formulate their own economic arguments.”