Focusing on the differences

June 04, 2019

Sergio Ocampo-Diaz, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics

Sergio Ocampo-Diaz is joining the Department of Economics as an Assistant Professor.

Ocampo-Diaz recently completed his PhD at the University of Minnesota. His research focuses on macroeconomic theory and heterogeneous agent macroeconomics.

Heterogeneous agents in economics are used to highlight and test differences between people, which may impact how they respond to changes in the economy.

Ocampo-Diaz develops economic models that highlight or provide understanding into macroeconomic trends. Using these models, he introduces levels of heterogeneity to understand how different policies or changes, such as automation, impact the economy.

In a recent paper, Ocampo-Diaz examined how different occupations are affected when technology changes.

“Automation affects how work is done, but it also affects workers, these effects are different for different types of workers,” said Ocampo-Diaz. “I developed a theoretical framework to study why certain workers do what they do, and how the assignment of tasks to workers is affected by technology.”

Ocampo-Diaz also developed a model to determine the effects of wealth taxation on different economic actors, including those with high levels of wealth, and those with high income. He compared these outcomes to the effects of taxing capital income.

“Taxing wealth is much better for more productive investors,” said Ocampo-Diaz. “When you are taxing capital income, you are taxing the productive investors more. Taxing wealth means you tax wealth holders, including those with low levels of income.”

His current research applies heterogeneous agent models to measure differences in impact and behaviour of self-employed people in developed and developing countries. While in developed countries, self-employment can be seen as a sign of success, in developing countries, it generally results in subsistence or low-productivity.

While the areas of focus are quite different, the methods employed are the same through all the projects. The heterogeneous agent models provide important insight that can lead to better policy developments, Ocampo-Diaz said.

Ocampo-Diaz said his decision to join Western was easy.

“The faculty is currently researching hot topics in labour economics,” said Ocampo-Diaz. “My main research is into the effects of new technology and how it’s reshaping work, and Western is making a big splash into how we think about these things. With that, and the collegial atmosphere, it was an easy sell.”