Welcome to my website! I am Boris N. Nikolaev, PhD. I am an Assistant Professor of Economics at Oxford College of Emory University. Currently, I teach courses in the Economics of Happiness [syllabus], Macroeconomics [syllabus], and Intermediate Microeconomics. My research interests are in the areas of public policy, applied microeconomics, entrepreneurship, mental & subjective well-being, and new institutional economics. On this webpage you will find information about my research, teaching, and a little more.
My current research specializes in examining the role of good governance in promoting quality of life through policies that foster economic development. An important question here is what do we mean by well-being or quality of life (and how do we measure it)? Traditionally, economists have used more objective measures such as national (and personal) income, unemployment, crime rates, and life expectancy. But in recent years, there has been a shift in economic thinking, although still not widely accepted, that has emphasized the importance of how people feel about their lives, or their subjective well-being. While I think that traditional indicators of economic prosperity are still the most important gauge of economic prosperity, I also believe that subjective indicators of well-being reveal important information about quality of life that shouldn’t be ignored. Thus, I use some alternative measures for quality of life to assess different public policies. Broadly speaking, the first set of measures is based on the psychological notion of subjective well-being. These measures include concepts such as life satisfaction (or life evaluation) but also short term hedonic experiences such as joy, anger, depression, etc., and people’s perception of how much freedom of choice and control they believe they have over their lives. The second set of measures is based on the philosophical notion of “capabilities” — objective measures of income, education, safety, environmental quality, health, and community–or the presence of valuable options and alternatives that allow people to make the type of choices they value the most.
I am also interested in economic freedom and the institutions that define it. Some of the questions that my research explores include: What is the effect of economic freedom on productive and non-productive entrepreneurship, and does economic freedom lead to higher levels of subjective well-being. Recently, I have become interested in the causes of economic institutions.
Outside of academia I spend most of my time with my family, travel, take lots of pictures, and enjoy every opportunity to be outdoors. I am also a big soccer fan.
RESEARCH INTERESTS: Public Policy, Applied Microeconomics, Entrepreneurship, Mental Health & Well-being, Economic Development, New Institutional Economics
(student co-authors in bold)
– (with Daniel Bennett) Factor Endowments, The Rule of Law & Structural Inequality: Testing the Engerman-Sokoloff Hypothesis. Journal of Institutional Economics (forthcoming) [download here]
– Does Other People’s Education Make Us Less Happy? Economics of Education Review (forthcoming) [download here]
– (with Daniel Bennett) Give Me Liberty and Give Me Control: Economic Freedom and Control Perceptions. European Journal of Political Economy (conditionally accepted) [download here]
– (with Rauf Salahodjaev) The Role of Intelligence in the Distribution of National Happiness. Intelligence. 56(1) 2016: 38-45
– Living with Mom and Dad and Loving It…or Are You? Journal of Economic Psychology. 51(1) December 2015: 199-205 [download here]
– (with Pavel Rusakov) Education and Happiness: An Alternative Hypothesis. Applied Economics Letters. November 2015. DOI: 10.1080/13504851.2015.1111982 [download here]
– (with Ainslee Burns) Inter-generational Mobility and Subjective Well-being – Evidence from the General Social Survey. Journal of Behavioral & Experimental Economics. 53 (1) 2014: 82-96 [download here]
– Using Experiments and Media to Introduce Game Theory Into the Principles Classroom. Journal of Private Enterprise. 29 (2) 2014: 149-160 [download here]
– Economic Freedom and Quality of Life – Evidence from the OECD’s Your Better Life Index. Journal of Private Enterprise. 29 (3) 2014: 1-31 [download here]
– (with Joshua Hall, John Pulito, and Benjamin VanMetre) The Effect of Personal and Economic Freedom on Entrepreneurial Activity: Evidence from a New State Level Freedom Index. American Journal of Entrepreneurship. 6(1) 2013: 85-99
– (with Rauf Salahodjaev) Historical Prevalence of Infectious Diseases, Cultural Values, and the Origins of Economic Institutions [download here]
– (with Milena Nikolova) Does Joining the EU Make You Happy? [download here]
– (with Daniel Bennett) Economic Freedom and Happiness Inequality — Friends or Foes? [download here]
– (with Daniel Bennett) On the Ambiguous Economic Freedom-Inequality Relationship [download here]
– (with Daniel Bennett) Income Inequality and Economic Growth–Are Americans Better Off? Evidence from Subjective Well-being Data [download here]
– (with Milena Nikolova) Saving Habits and Happiness: Evidence from Panel Data [download here]
– (with Daniel Bennett) Economic Freedom and Emotional Well-being [download here]