Professor Enrique Seira Joins MSU Department of Economics as new Frederick S. Addy Distinguished Chair of Economics

November 16, 2022 - Katie Nicpon

Caption: Professor Seira [Acadia National Park.] Photo credit: Professor Enrique Seira.

The MSU Department of Economics welcomes Professor Enrique Seira to their faculty as the new Frederick S. Addy Distinguished Chair of Economics. He joined the department for the 2022-2023 academic year to teach development economics and research in the field of development.  

“I am extremely excited to form part of the MSU community and the Economics Department. The field of development economics has transformed itself in the last 2 decades and I want to make sure MSU students are exposed to this exciting body of knowledge,” he said.

More concretely, he has a broad range of interests such as consumer finance - how consumers make credit choices, how to increase financial inclusion, and how regulation and transparency could help. He also works on labor courts, how to improve their effectiveness, how to reduce conflict, and how to reduce corruption. Finally, he is very interested in democracy, how to sustain it and what erodes it. 

“Colleagues are amazing, the department is very well run, and I am looking forward to contributing to the research environment, connecting with people from different fields, both within economics but also across departments, like agricultural food and resource economics, criminal justice, education, management, and others,” he said.

Professor Seira would also love to contribute to the State of Michigan more generally if possible. 

“One of my passions has been to help governments and companies implement better policies, rigorously tested, while contributing to our knowledge base,” he said. “I hope I can get in contact with government officials and company management to do this here.” 

Seira was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and studied economics at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM), and completed his Ph.D. in economics at Stanford University. 

“ITAM is a small, but very serious university in Mexico City, where some of the best research in economics in Mexico is produced,” he said. “It is not well known, so I serendipitously heard about it in a conversation just before deciding what and where to study. At Stanford, I was under the guidance of terrific people like Jon Levin, Susan Athey, Liran Einav who taught me how to do research. I have come to value and admire them and their work more and more as I do research.”

Seira spent a year at the World Banks’ IFC in Washington D.C. and then two years working in the Mexican government advising first the Undersecretary of the Treasury and then the Secretary of Economics. 

“This experience deeply influenced me and my research. I came to understand better how policy in Mexico —and I guess many developing countries— is done, and the challenges of designing, proposing and implementing good policy. It also made me value academia, and how important it is to have time and a suitable context to think more deeply about problems.” 

Enrique enjoyed a successful career of 12 years at  ITAM.   He became the director of the Economics Research Center there  (one of the best economic research institutions in Latin America.

He was also the first Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) affiliate in Mexico and founded a non-profit organization Que Funciona para el Desarollo to help researchers conduct research in Mexico. 

Caption: Professor Seira Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico’s wine region. Photo credit: Professor Enrique Seira.

“After developing my research career in Mexico for close to 12 years, I felt I reached all I could accomplish there research wise, and began looking for opportunities to grow and do research in the US,” he said. “The US is still the place where economics research is most valued, supported, and pursued. MSU invited me to join their amazing community, and now me and my family are happily here.” 

He chose to join MSU because of the strong research focus and the strength of the Department of Economics. 

“The department’s faculty is strong in empirical methods (econometrics), which are my working tools,” he said. “ The working environment is collaborative and collegial, and I felt the department was renovating itself and this was a critical moment to be part of that.”

Seira is the third Frederick S. Addy Distinguished Chair, a position established in 2020 by Mr. Addy’s generous gift. Mr. Addy, former executive vice president, chief financial officer and director of Amoco Corp. and his wife Marilyn believe that their contributions help attract the best professors and hence the best students to the university.  

“We are very proud that we were able to welcome Professor Seira as the third Frederick S. Addy Distinguished Chair in Economics,” said Professor Steven Haider, Department Chair. “Mr. Addy was one of the most generous supporters of our department for years. He firmly believed, as does the Department of Economics, that excellence in research and undergraduate education should go hand-in-hand. With the help of Mr. Addy’s generous support, we have been able to attract faculty who are both world-class researchers and educators. Professor Seira truly lives up to this lofty ideal.”

Seira values teaching, is very proud of his students and is looking forward to teaching a senior seminar and a graduate course.

“Today I firmly believe that a large part of my contribution is my teaching and mentoring” he said. “I care deeply about the success of my students, their success is one of my main life goals.”

He’s also looking forward to joining the community of East Lansing. 

“I like the campus, nature, and the quiet quality of life. Plus, I love basketball and MSU is great for that! 

Caption: Professor Seira hiking in Acadia National Park. Photo credit: Professor Enrique Seira.

 

When asked about a fun interest or fun fact, he shared, “I like to do asado (BBQ), my hometown’s favorite food ---and my wife’s, as she is from Argentina. I like poetry (not only sometimes fun but helps me live better). As I said above, I love basketball –how can one not!  I started watching NBA when Magic and Jordan were in their prime.” 

To learn more about Professor Seira and his research, visit: http://econ.msu.edu/faculty/seira/index.php.