Professor Pena is an associate professor of economics with research interests in public sector economics, labor economics, and economic development. Much of her current research relates to undocumented and documented immigration, public policy, poverty, and agricultural labor markets. Dr. Pena received her Ph.D. in Economics from Stanford University in 2007, M.A. in Economics from Stanford University in 2004, and B.A. in Economics from the Johns Hopkins University in 2001. She teaches Microeconomic Theory, Public Economics, and Microeconomics of Development at the graduate level, as well as undergraduate Intermediate Microeconomics, Introduction to Econometrics, and Economics of Public Finance. She describes her teaching philosophy as follows:

“My teaching philosophy has revolved around the idea that the art in teaching economics lies in the ability to relate the subject to the experiences of students. Teaching students why economics matters to their lives changes their understanding of the world around them. My view is that this not only ensures a next generation of economists to extend the field, but also can result in positive externalities such as changes in students’ compassion for the poor, ethics in business, and personal responsibility for household finances. The best economics classes in my opinion elucidate supply and demand relationships and engage students mathematically, analytically, intuitively, and verbally while encouraging informed citizenship and decision-making. This is relevant at the undergraduate and graduate (through PhD) levels.”

Selected Publications:

“Determinants of Child Labor in the Modern United States: Evidence from Agricultural Workers and their Children” (with Maoyong Fan and Mimi Houston), Economics Bulletin, Volume 34, Issue 1 (2014): 287-306.

“Undocumented Immigrants and the Welfare State: The Case of Regional Migration and U.S. Agricultural Labor,” Journal of Regional Science, Volume 54, Issue 1 (January 2014): 96-113.

“Hispanics and the Great Recession: Differences in Unemployment Rate Duration by Ethnicity and Race 2003-2010” (with Harvey Cutler and Martin Shields), In: Hispanics in the U.S. Labor Market (editor: Richard R. Verdugo), Information Age Press, 2014.

“Poverty Measurement for a Binational Population,” Migration Letters, Volume 10, Issue 2 (May 2013): 254-269.
“Remittances and Undocumented Migration,” In: The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration (editor: Immanuel Ness), Wiley-Blackwell, February 2013.

“Undocumented Immigration and the Business of Farm Labor Contracting in the U.S.,” American Journal of Business, Volume 27, Issue 1 (2012): 10-26.

“Economies of Scale and Gender Discrimination in Transition: The Case of the Republic of Tajikistan,” Applied Economics, Volume 44, Issue 18 (June 2012): 2265-2281.