All The New Faculty At The Top U.S. Business Schools In 2022

MIT Sloan’s Alexey Makarin

Alexey Makarin

Assistant Professor of Applied Economics, MIT Sloan 

“I’m very excited about teaching MBAs because I’m looking into people’s bios and it’s such an accomplished group.”

Alexey Makarin earned his PhD in Economics from Northwestern University in 2019. His most recent position was assistant professor in economics at the Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance in Rome. He has a PhD in economics from Northwestern University. His research areas are political economy, development economics, economics of digitization, and applied microeconomics. Some of his most recent papers reflect socio-political issues in Russia, including “Divided we stay home: Social distancing and ethnic diversity,” which compares the degrees of Covid-19 social distancing in different Russian cities; and “Social Media and Protest Participation: Evidence from Russia,” which looked at the impact of Russia’s top online social network on protests.

Poets&Quants: What’s the name of the course you are teaching this semester? And what can you tell us about it?

Alexey Makarin: The course name is Applied Macro and International Economics. And there, we are going to give MBA students a little bit of introduction to economic growth, the theory of economic growth, theories of why some countries are poor and some countries are rich. Then we’re going to talk about trade: Why the countries trade, the theory of comparative advantage, a brief review of the macroeconomic conditions of the past 10 years. And then we’re going to talk about short-term management of the macroeconomy. So that is where we are going to cover a very hot topic of inflation.

You just authored a paper on college student mental health. Will that find its way into your classroom at MIT?

Yeah, a little bit. Even though the course is mostly macroeconomics, and we are going to cover mostly economic issues, I think that there is a number of trends in politics and society that are very important for the economy as well. One of the things that is striking is that in the past 10 years or 15 years, there has been an epidemic of mental health issues among young people and young professionals. To the extent we can understand that and unpack that a little bit, I think that could be very helpful. So, what I’m going to do is, I’m going to give one lecture on the latest trends related to social media. Now social media is a thing that is really big.

Your other big area of research.

Yeah, exactly. We have 3 billion users of Facebook in the world. And we think that it’s really having a large impact on society and, ultimately, on the economy as well.

Can you tell us about Einaudi and your experience in Rome? How long were you there?

I was there for three years. It’s a boutique research institute under the Central Bank of Italy. I really enjoyed working there because it’s a small place, a very friendly environment. The EIEF is located in a villa in the historical center of Rome. My three years there were fantastic, and I really owe that place a lot in terms of my academic development in the past three years.

While you were there, you had a chance to write some interesting papers, not only about student mental health but also about political events in Russia, your home country.

Yeah. I’m a Russian national. I left for the U.S. in 2013 where I started my journey at Northwestern. Some of my advisors were from Kellogg — they are actually in the same building, the Economics Department and Kellogg. So as an economics student, it’s very natural for you to interact a lot with Kellogg.

You write about social media platforms and protests in Russia, can you tell us more about that?

The dominant view from scholars on social media around 2011-2012 was that social media was going to change the world, it was going to bring democracy everywhere. But, of course, there were some skeptics saying, “No, wait.” Social media could make it easier for authoritarian regimes to do surveillance, for example.

But actually, finding causal evidence for the impact of social media proliferation on anti-authoritarian protests was very difficult. And so we tried to fill the gap in the literature using the example of Russia because, in Russia, Facebook was not the dominant platform. In Russia, there was VK, which is a one-to-one analog of Facebook, created by a former student of St. Petersburg State University.

We found that in the cities where VK penetration was higher for exogenous reasons that have to do with the student flows from Russian cities to the St. Petersburg State University, those cities were more likely to have a protest in 2011-2012.

What are your thoughts about teaching at MIT, one of the top business schools in the United States and the world?

I feel very lucky and grateful for the opportunity to be here. Every day I come to the office, it feels like a miracle, but yeah, it’s really great. And I’m very excited about teaching MBAs as well because I’m looking into people’s bios and it’s such an accomplished group. It will be a bit intimidating to be teaching here.

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