REEEC is glad to welcome Dr. Zaruhi Sahakyan as a faculty affiliate. Dr. Sahakyan is a Lecturer in the Department of Economics. After her undergraduate studies at Yerevan State University in Armenia, she received an Edmund Muskie Fellowship for studying International and Development Economics at Yale University. While at Yale, she also worked as a research assistant for Prof. Robert Shiller and Prof. Gustav Ranis. After graduating from Yale with a Master of Arts degree, she came to the University of Illinois to pursue a Ph.D. in economics. She graduated in December 2008. Since then, she has been a lecturer in the Department of Economics. She teaches courses in Economic Statistics, Microeconomics, Economics of Risk and Political Economy. She has also been invited to give guest lectures for REEES 200 at REEEC. In 2009, she was a panelist at the REEEC Current Affairs Forum on “Reform or Retrenchment: Postcommunist Eurasia and the World Economic Crisis.”
Dr. Sahakyan’s research focuses on issues of political economy, the economic analysis of politics, particularly in the area of immigration policy. She has developed a theoretical model of preferences on immigration and trade policy (from a theoretical point of view, the consequences of trade and immigration are very similar). Additionally, she has empirically tested the model’s predictions on the correlation of preferences in immigration and trade issues, focusing on the voting behavior of legislators of the 108th U.S. Congress.
As many countries age, their social security systems are stretched, and immigration is discussed as a potential remedy for these demographic problems. However, in a developing multipolar world, today’s developed countries cannot necessarily rely that every potential immigrant really wants to come to them, if they are only willing to accept them as immigrants. To capture this situation, Dr. Sahakyan has developed a model in which different countries compete for different types of immigrants by setting immigration quotas and an intensity of bureaucratic security.
Together with her husband, economics professor Mattias Polburn, she is currently engaged as a consultant for the Central Bank of Armenia. The bank is building a research department in order to provide a unified source of expertise to the economic decision makers in Armenia, which is considerably more than what central banks normally do. This project, supported by USAID, involves organizing a program that brings international experts to Armenia to provide training for the staff members.