SMU economics professor wins prestigious appointment to nation’s premier organization for impartial economic research, the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, the nation’s leading nonprofit economic research organization, has appointed SMU Assistant Professor Elira Kuka a faculty research fellow.

Kuka is in the SMU Department of Economics. She will be a fellow in the NBER’s research program on children, a key policy area.

NBER, founded in 1920, is a private, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to conducting economic research and to disseminating research findings among academics, public policy makers and business professionals.

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) is the most prestigious and active research organization in economic policy and empirical analysis in the U.S., said University Distinguished Professor Santanu Roy, chair of the SMU Department of Economics. Several Nobel laureates and Chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers (to the White House) have been fellows of the NBER, Roy said.

“To be appointed a Faculty Research Fellow at the NBER is a tremendous recognition for a young scholar like Elira Kuka, who is just completing her second year as assistant professor after her Ph.D. It is a major boost to the SMU Economics Department’s research profile and visibility,” Roy said. “Elira’s work on several important public policy issues related to children’s health, unemployment insurance and education have started appearing in the very top journals of the profession. She is on a firm trajectory to be a star in her research field.”

NBER-affiliated researchers study a wide range of topics and they employ many different methods in their work. Key focus areas include developing new statistical measurements, estimating quantitative models of economic behavior and analyzing the effects of public policies while remaining impartial and foregoing recommendations.

Over the years the NBER’s research agenda has encompassed a wide variety of issues that confront our society. Twenty-six Nobel Prize winners in Economics and 13 past chairs of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers have held NBER affiliations.

The more than 1,400 professors of economics and business now teaching at colleges and universities in North America who are NBER researchers are the leading scholars in their fields.

Kuka joined SMU in 2015. She received an undergraduate degree from Wellesley College, Mass., and her Ph.D. in economics from the University of California at Davis. Her research focuses on understanding how government policy affects individual behavior and wellbeing, the extent to which it provides social insurance during times of need, and its effectiveness in alleviation of poverty and inequality.

Her current research topics include the potential benefits of the federal Unemployment Insurance program, the protective power of the U.S. safety net during recessions and various issues in academic achievement.

Kuka’s appointment was effective May 1, 2017.