Peter Orazem, university professor, is spending spring semester 2018 working on research projects at the University of Primorska, Koper, Slovenia, as part of the Fulbright Scholar program, which operates in more than 125 countries throughout the world.
Orazem is working with colleagues in Slovenia on an analysis of an entire generation of workers from planned to market economy, based on a data set constructed by the Statistical Office of Slovenia. The data set is composed of everyone who has held a job in Slovenia since 1990.
"The data must be analysed in a safe room in Ljubljana, so for me to work on the project, I needed to be able to be in Slovenia for an extended period," said Orazem. "So my colleagues had a Fulbright approved with me in mind, and I then wrote a proposal."
Orazem's six months in Slovenia will be spent writing papers on the employment, unemployment, and wage responses to changes in labor market policy.
"Our first paper looked at how minimum wages affected low- and high-skill employment and average earnings. The second paper is looking at how minimum wage and severance policies affect firm costs, capital investments, profit and probability of exit. The third paper will show how labor turnover is affected by those same policies. In May, I have to give a plenary talk to a meeting of economists."
The work is not without its challenges. Though Orazem’s mother and father (an ISU Ph.D. in economics) were from Slovenia, and all of his extended family live in the country, he has never spent a long period of time there.
"My language skills are improving, but I know kids' words – I cannot discuss my work in Slovenian because I do not know the words for employment, severance, unemployment insurance."
But Orazem and wife Patti are also taking time to visit his family, to enjoy the local cuisine, and to travel before returning to Ames July 15.
"Restaurants here are wonderful and inexpensive; seems like there is a bakery every other block. Busses go everywhere. We can get to Italy, Austria or Croatia in 90 minutes by bus."
"This is a fabulous opportunity. I think the work we will do here is a once in a lifetime opportunity to analyze an entire labor market. The Statistical Office has agreed to leave the data set available for five years so I expect to close out my career exploiting this information."
Iowa State University is among the U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most Fulbright U.S. Scholars for 2017-18, as announced by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 380,000 participants — chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute toward solutions for shared international concerns. More than 1,100 U.S. college and university faculty and administrators, professionals, artists, journalists, scientists, lawyers and independent scholars are awarded Fulbright grants to teach and/or conduct research annually.