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March 27 — "Does Birthplace Matter? The Financial Decisions of U.S. Immigrants"

More than 175 million people live outside their country of birth. Together with their skill and talents, international migrants bring attitudes and experiences acquired in their country of origin to the destination country. Learn how, U.S immigrants’ savings, investment and entrepreneurship decisions are shaped in important ways by their country of origin experiences including the experience of living through a financial crisis.

When: Campus Center CE 268

Professor Una Okonkwo Osili’s research lies within the field of development economics. In particular, she studies how households in developing countries make economic decisions where incomes are low and variable, and especially in the presence of market imperfections. Households rely on family members and community resources to deal with adverse economic circumstances which may include unemployment, ill health, crop loss and bad weather. In most cases, formal markets that provide credit and insurance are not well developed. Furthermore, government programs that can provide aid to households tend to be limited in scope.

Migration - the relocation of one or more family members - can expand the resources available to households and provide some protection against location-specific shocks. In her research, Professor Osili has collected and analyzed data in Nigeria and the United States on the transfers that immigrants send to their home families.

Can communities generate the resources to enable development? Currently, Professor Osili is studying the private income contributions and institutions using data from Indonesia. She plans to examine transfers to community-level institutions in other parts of the developing world and the role that community groups can play in the process of economic development.

In 2006, she received the Stevenson Fellowship from the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council. In 2007, she was appointed as a fellow of the Networks Financial Institute. She has published articles in academic journals including World Development, World Bank Economic Review, Journal of Population Economics, and Economic Development and Cultural Change, Journal of Development Economics and the Review of Economics and Statistics. She has also contributed to several edited volumes and books. She has served as a consultant for the United Nations Development Program, the United Economics Commission for Africa and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Una Osili has served on the International Scientific Panel for the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa/Macarthur Foundation Real Economies of Africa program. She has also served as a member of the Expert Advisory Panel for the Economic Report on Africa published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

She received her bachelor’s degree in economics with honors from Harvard University and her M.A and Ph.D. in economics from Northwestern University. She is involved in several non-profit organizations including serving as the Chair and Co-Founder of the Philippe Wamba Fund for Road Safety in Africa. Between 2005-2007, she served as the Chair of the Committee on African and African-American Studies at IUPUI. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the African Finance and Economics Association (AFEA), the Harvard African Students Alumni Network (HASAN) and the Immigrant Welcome Center in Indianapolis.

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