ISU student wins award at international research conference

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POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) – Idaho State University student Gwyneth Donahue’s research into the wage gap between immigrant and native workers in the United States has earned her the award for best undergraduate paper at the International Atlantic Economics Society conference.

As part of the award, Donahue’s research will be published.

Donahue, an economics student at the College of Business, began her research as part of Professor Iris Buder’s econometrics course in the spring of 2021.

“Econometrics applies statistical and quantitative methods to analyze business and economic phenomena,” Buder said. “When Gwyn proposed her research project, I could already see the potential of her idea and she continued to put a lot of effort into developing her theoretical model, which was based on her extensive research of the literature. After Gwyn submitted her last research paper for the class, it was truly one of the best undergraduate econometrics papers I have ever read.

Buder suggested that Donahue continue his work on the paper throughout the summer and submit it to the IAES to enter the competition.

Donahue said his motivation for choosing the topic was to explore the underlying cause of the wage gap and whether it can be explained by educational or professional choices or the potential for discrimination against immigrants.

“While education, occupation and other demographic attributes have been shown to contribute to the wage gap [between immigrant and native workers in the U.S.], the paper also demonstrates that there remains an unexplained part by these variables, which can probably be attributed to discrimination, ”Donahue said.

Donahue said she also found that the wage gap narrowed the longer an immigrant stayed in the United States.

“Although this wage ‘convergence’ is not consistent across all occupations,” she said, “indicating that immigrants in unskilled occupations have a higher wage gap with natives than immigrants in unskilled occupations. skilled professions. “

Throughout the research process, Donahue was able to gain experience using two research methods, including Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression analysis as well as the Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition that Donahue attributed to the most great lessons from experience. She was also exposed to a better understanding of the structure and presentation of academic papers.

“[I was able to learn] how to conduct appropriate research using statistical analysis and how to effectively communicate the results. I learned to use statistical analysis and statistical software, and to apply these tools to help answer economic questions, a skill that will no doubt be applicable in the future, ”said Donahue.

After attending the conference, Donahue said the experience only improved his plans to join academia in the future. She said the ability to compete internationally in addition to publishing her research would be a valuable attribute to add to her doctorate. program requests once she graduates.

Buder explained that these types of experiences are beneficial for students for a variety of reasons, but are especially noteworthy for those planning to pursue higher education. Buder said that conducting research at the undergraduate level can not only demonstrate the cognitive and writing skills of a graduate school student, but is also a good opportunity to help guide students to their ideal graduate program. according to their research interests.

“Gwyn’s hard work on this research project has paid off in a huge way – to be published as an undergraduate is a pretty big achievement,” Buder said.


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