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 Microeconomics, Intermediate Microeconomics, and the Economics of Happiness (syllabus). I have written articles on topics related to economic development, subjective well-being, new institutional economics, education, and political economy. I am available as an economic and well-being consultant. 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 (and political institutions) 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 well-being data reveal important information about quality of life that shouldn’t be ignored. Thus, I use some alternative measures for quality of life. Broadly speaking, the first set of measures is based on the psychological notion of subjective well-being. These measures include concepts like life satisfaction (or life evaluation) but also short term hedonic experiences such as joy, anger, depression, etc. The second set of measures is based on the philosophical notion of “capabilities” — objective measures of income, education, safety, environmental quality, health, and community.
For example, the United States today is far richer than it was at the beginning of the twentieth century or even in the 1970’s. Yet, the gap between the rich and poor is also at a historically high level (only comparable to what happened prior to the Great Depression). Millions of people have expressed their discontent with the current level of income inequality through the Occupy Wall Street movement. Are we better off today, then, as a result of the economic growth even if this growth has come at the expense of a more equal society? This is the question that my research tries to answer using alternative measures such as the level of self-reported happiness.
I am also interested in economic freedom and the political institutions that define it. Some of the questions that my research explores include: What is the effect of economic freedom on income inequality, productive and non-productive entrepreneurship, and does economic freedom lead level of subjective well-being.
Outside of academia I spend time with my family, travel, take lots (and I mean lots) of pictures, and enjoy every opportunity to be outdoors. I am also a big soccer fan.
New Institutional Economics, Public Choice, Subjective Well-being and Life Satisfaction, Development Economics, The Economics of Education.