Culture, Society & Family Learning & Education Researcher news

Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center awards first research grants to shape economic, migration policies

Research findings will be presented at the second annual Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center Symposium to be held in Mexico City April 6, 2018.

The Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center at SMU has awarded grants to four scholars from both sides of the border who aim to support the Center’s goal of providing policy-relevant, action-oriented research on the dynamic relationship between Texas and Mexico.

Findings from each of the four projects, selected by the Texas-Mexico Center’s Faculty Advisory Board, will be shared this spring, says Luisa del Rosal, executive director of the Center.

“This is a tremendous benefit to Dedman College, where so many faculty members research and teach about Texas and Mexico,” says SMU Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Dean Thomas DiPiero. “This will help strengthen the social, economic and cultural ties between the two regions.”

The four projects are:

  • “Migration, Inequality & Public Policies in Mexico and the United States”
    Lead researcher: Colegio de Mexico President Silvia Giorguli, Mexico City
  • “Are Mexican and U.S. Workers Complements or Substitutes?”
    Lead researcher: Raymond Robertson, Helen and Roy Ryu Chair in Economics
    & Government, Texas A&M Bush School of Government & Public Service, College Station
  • “Institutions, Trade and Economic Prosperity: An Examination of the U.S. and Mexican States”
    Lead researcher: Dean Stansel, associate professor, O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom, SMU Cox School of Business
  • “Slowdown in Mexico-U.S. Migration: Why is Texas Different?”
    Lead researcher: Colegio Tlaxcala President Alfredo Cuecuecha, Tlaxcala, Mexico

Grant recipient Stansel said his team will focus on the potential economic damage from a possible new regime of trade restrictions in the U.S.

“By examining the interconnected relationships between trade policy, trade volume and economic prosperity in the U.S. and Mexico,” he said, “we hope to provide insights into the importance of maintaining a system of relatively free trade.”

Research findings will be presented at the second annual Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center Symposium to be held in Mexico City April 6, 2018.

Three dozen applicants applied for the grants, which was “more than we expected for the first year,” says Javier Velez, vice-chair of the Texas-Mexico Center Executive Advisory Board and CEO of Mission Foods’ U.S. headquarters in Dallas.

“It was pleasing for us how much interest there is in effectively promoting and facilitating a better understanding of the relation between Texas and Mexico,” Velez said.

The Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center at SMU is dedicated to improving relations between Texas and Mexico through dialogue and research. It works to encourage greater cross-border integration and cross-sector collaboration in academia, government, non-governmental organizations and business. The Center strives to enhance a political dialogue to reshape the policies that govern the relationship between Texas and Mexico, focusing on five areas: trade and investment, energy, human capital and education, border issues and migration. — Denise Gee, SMU

Culture, Society & Family Economics & Statistics

Charity, social justice and earth-friendly activism replace big houses, diamond rings and ostentatious living for status seekers

conspicuous conservation, new aristocrats, ryan murphy, smu, Cox

Keeping up with the Joneses has taken on a whole new meaning, according to new research by a professor in the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

Rich people traditionally flaunted their wealth with ostentatious living, designer clothing, big houses, fast cars and grand parties. But times have changed says Ryan Murphy, a research assistant professor in Cox’s O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom.

In a review of the research literature on modern conspicuous consumption, Murphy found that flashing a lavish lifestyle to signal one’s high-income status is losing favor.

In his briefing, “The New Aristocrats: A cultural and economic analysis of the new status signaling,” Murphy says “conspicuous consumption” has become outmoded.

Taking its place is a new-found interest in high-profile gestures by the social elite, who on the surface pursue moral aims but in reality signal status, he says.

“I still believe the rich are signaling status, but doing so in ways that are on the surface moral, especially ways that demonstrate a rejection of globalization and capitalism,” Murphy says. “But the social and intellectual elite who once bought fast cars and oversized houses to demonstrate where they are in the social pecking order are now buying Priuses.”

The briefing paper was published by Adam Smith Institute. The U.K.-based policy institute, dedicated to free market policies, noted that the paper describes “Why nobody’s keeping up with the Joneses anymore.”

“Signaling status” is a common exercise for the wealthy, but today’s “new aristocrats” focus their energies on signaling their virtue and avoiding simple crass consumerism, Murphy says.

This new class of high-dollar do-gooders differentiate themselves from classic aristocrats of the past who acquired useless skills, such as fencing, and from those described as having old-money, who made ostentatious displays of frivolous spending.

Instead the trend is toward “conspicuous conservation,” as wealthy people attempt to signal a lack of interest in status games.

This may mean they are also less amenable to policies such as luxury taxes, Murphy says, as the relationship between status goods and raw financial cost is much weaker than it once was.

Murphy, in SMU’s O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom, is an expert in institutional economics, public policy and macroeconomics.

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