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Site updated June 2013

I am an economics professor at Concordia University in Montreal.


My teaching is concentrated in the areas of public economics and public policy, economic inequality, microeconomics and introductory economics.

My home University offers a completely on-line introductory microeconomics course that I have developed, through eConcordia.com.

I am the author of introductory texts in Microeconomics and Macroeconomics with coauthor Douglas Curtis. These books are accessible to educators and students under a creative commons license.


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Here is my CV.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/25927360/CV%20September2014_Irvine.pdf  


You can contact me at 
mailto:ian.irvine@concordia.ca
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My current research focuses upon tobacco use and the tobacco industry; also on employment insurance and social assistance.

Here are a few recent papers

1. Tobacco Taxes and Regressivity. This paper was published in the Journal of Health Economics, 2009. It concerns the magnitude of the price elasticity of demand. Using recent Canadian data, we obtain estimates at the low end of the accepted range. It is written jointly with Professor Nikolay Gospodinov of Concordia University.

2. Toxic Choices
This paper provides a formal model of within-day smoking, and argues that workplace bans should  have small effects on the amount smoked. Econometric evidence supports the perspective, and we show that smoking restrictions imposed in the home are of an order of magnitude more important. This is published in Health Forum in Economics, 2011, Berkeley Economic Press, vol. 14(2). It is written jointly with Dr. Van Hai Nguyen of the University of Toronto. The version in the link below is similar though not identical to the published version.

3. The Theory of Smoking Bans.
This is a public finance approach to analyzing if smoking bans might increase aggregate welfare in a world where smokers dislike variance in their consumption and where there exists an illegal supply sector in addition to a legal sector. A paternalist government, overriding an information/preference parameter, by introducing variance into a smoker's consumption profile can reduce use and increase aggregate well being. I am writing it with Charles de Bartolome of the University of Colorado. It is presently under review at a journal.

4. The Distributional Impact of Employment Insurance in Canada. This paper analyzes the degree to which Canada's Employment Insurance program moderates earnings and income inequality.  It is published in Canadian Public Policy, 2010, XXXVII(2), and written with Ross Finnie.

 5. Smoking Bans and the Happiness of Smokers - coming soon
This is a paper that examines the impact of smoking bans on the expressed happiness of smokers.  We build a theoretical model in which smokers are variance-averse to daily smoking patterns. Using data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, we find that smoking bans have negative impacts primarily on heavy smokers, as the theory predicts, but that bans are favorably received by moderate smokers. It is written jointly with Van Hai Nguyen (University of Toronto) and Charles de Bartolome (Colorado, Boulder). We are presently writing a second draft. That version should be ready by Fall 2014.

6. The Simple Analytics of Tobacco Taxation with Illegal Supply

Illegal purchases of cigarettes in Canada account for almost one quarter of the market. This trade is associated with a loss in tax revenue and a wide array of illegal and sometimes violent activities. Various policy responses have been called for to counter this state of affairs. One response has been a call to reduce tobacco taxes in the hope that lower legal prices will induce smokers to switch back to the legal supply source. This paper marks an attempt to analyze the magnitude of between-product substitution that would be necessary to bring about such an outcome. The challenge in this area is to obtain some meaningful estimates of how willing smokers are to substitute between different cigarettes.  Much of the paper is taken up with the methodology used, in the absence of any econometric estimates. We emphasize that the nature of the government's objective function is critical in determining appropriate policy. This paper is written jointly with William Sims. It is forthcoming in the Canadian Journal of Economics.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2tCo9lpv4KYZXREM0gtSTNUWTZ1allRTURmTk14Zw/edit

7. Is Employment Discrimination Based on Tobacco Use Efficient?

Numerous employers in over 20 states currently discriminate legally against smokers in their hiring policies. We analyze the cost of smokers, measured in annual hospital days, and compare this with the cost of being obese and a variety of medical conditions, relative to the cost of being a never smoker, using three large recent surveys each having in excess of one hundred thousand observations. We find that smokers are not the most costly employees, and therefore question the efficacy and equity of current practices. We also illustrate that recent quitters are more costly than the average current smoker. This paper is written jointly with Hai Van Nguyen. It is forthcoming in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy. A pre-publication version is available at:

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/25927360/Is%20Employment%20Discrimination%20Final%20revision%20Feb01%20full%20document.pdf  

8. Retail Tobacco Display Bans

Bans on retail tobacco displays, of the type proposed by New Yorks Mayor Bloomberg in March 2013, have been operative in several economies since 2001. Despite an enormous number of studies in public health journals using attitudinal data, we can find no econometric event studies of the type normally used in Economics. This paper attempts to …fill that gap by using data from 13 cross sections of the annual Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Surveys. These data afford an ideal opportunity to study events of this type given that each of Canadas 10 provinces implemented display bans at various points between 2003 and 2009. Accordingly, we use difference-in-difference methods to study three behaviors following the introduction of bans: participation in smoking, the intensity of smoking and quit intentions. A critical element of the study concerns the treatment of contraband tobacco. Our estimates provide very little support for the hypothesis that behaviors changed following the bans. This paper has been accepted for publication as of August 2014. An early draft is available at: 

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/25927360/DisplayBan_6June.pdf   


Current work

  • At the moment I am working on various aspects of smoking bans, and whether smokers of light cigarettes might be naive as to the health consequences of choosing these over regular strength
  • Hospitalization rates and ideal BMI
 
Beyond work: below is a pic of me and my wife, snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park in March 2008. Outside of work I read a variety of material, and partake in a range of outdoor activities.