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It's All a Matter of Economics (and Sometimes, Music, Too)

Housing data inspires research for David Brasington and 'Schoolhouse Rock' inspires a tuneful class.

Date: 10/12/2008
By: Britt Kennerly
Phone: (513) 556-8577
Photos By: Britt Kennerly
If you hear the strains of a rock tune coming from Crosley Tower, tune in closely. Chances are David Brasington could be rehearsing for his next gig oops, class.

Brasington, a Cincinnati native who grew up in Kenwood and Madeira, joined the Department of Economics as an assistant professor this fall. He holds the James C. and Caroline Kautz Chair in Political Economy.

"I like to be a little creative, especially with my principles class," says Brasington, an avid traveler who also teaches an urban economics class with a section on housing.


David Brasington, assistant professor of economics

"I've made up three economics songs I like to sing to class on elasticity, cartels and poverty. Two songs are to 'Schoolhouse Rock' tunes, and the third is to a Lenny Kravitz song."

After earning his PhD in 1997 from The Ohio State University, Brasington landed his first faculty job at Tulane University in New Orleans.

"After four years there, LSU in Baton Rouge hired me away," he says. "So I spent the last 10 years in Louisiana, surviving several hurricanes, and bringing one here!  What can I say, hurricanes like me!"

His areas of research public finance (education, environment), urban and regional economics and real estate finance couldn't be more timely or of more interest in troubled financial times for the United States.

"Yes, the housing market certainly is exciting, in a perverse way," he says. "And of course there's always something screwy going on in education. Unfortunately for me, I spent the last two years in Louisiana as director of graduate studies, an administrative position that took up basically all my research time. And moving here took a lot of time, so I'm eager to get fully settled in and back to research."

Brasington's research delves strongly into issues related to schools, student performance and housing prices. From his dissertation days to Tulane to LSU, "all my data was Ohio schools and Ohio housing markets," he says. "So although I don't have a great basis for comparing Ohio to other areas, I'm plenty familiar with Ohio schools."

His interest in those schools came from an internship he had during graduate school, at the Ohio Legislative Service Commission. 

"Then my dissertation advisor got some Ohio housing sales data for a paper about the premium or discount for buying a house in various school districts," he says.

"We wrote this paper, and I built off of it for one of the three chapters in my dissertation, and that has been one of my lines of research ever since."

And for someone eager to jump back into the game, that's a plus.

Brasington "got into this line of work because of the teaching, but research is what pays the bills at a research school, and it can be addictive," he says.

"Overall, it's like physicist Richard Feynman said: When research is going well, it feels like teaching just gets in the way; but when research is going poorly, teaching makes you feel like you're doing something productive. And, I would add, fun."

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