Economics page

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Isabelle Sin


Motu Economic and Public Policy Research 

Level 1, 97 Cuba Street

Wellington 6011

New Zealand

phone: +64 4 939 4250 extn 818

fax: +64 4 939 4251

Welcome to my economics page.

Here you can find information about my research interests, my CV, research papers and work in progress.

I am a Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research and a Principal Investigator at Te Pūnaha Matatini Centre of Research Excellence. I am also an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington (, and am available to supervise Honours, Master’s, and PhD students. Please feel free to email me if you are interested in having me as a supervisor for your Honours, Master’s, or PhD research.

Curriculum vitae

Isabelle_Sin_CV.pdf (this version November 2016)

Research interests

My fields of research include applied microeconomics and economic history.  I have a broad range of interests in labour economics and elsewhere, which include the international diffusion of knowledge, migration and the diffusion of knowledge carried by
migrants, education, and the economics of book translations.

In the 2015 round, I was awarded a three-year Marsden grant to study the migration of skilled New Zealand graduates, including how financial incentives affect brain drain and the role of wealth in tertiary graduates' ability to relocate to domestic and international job opportunities. See the NZ Herald's coverage here.

Research papers and work in progress

"The Gravity of Ideas: How distances affect translations," (forthcoming in The Economic Journal).
Paper: Gravity.pdf
Online appendix: Gravity_Appendix.pdf

"Firm Competitiveness and Discrimination: Evidence from Longitudinal Linked Employer-Employee Data," with Steven Stillman, John Gibson, and Richard Fabling (2015).

"The effect of trial periods in employment on firm hiring behaviour," with Nathan Chappell (2015).
Treasury Working Paper: 90day_trial
Media coverage

“The effect of student allowances on postgraduate study,” with Eyal Apatov and David C. Maré (2015).

"Immigrant Integration Revisited: The roles of human capital and a migrant’s socioeconomic and cultural background," with Jacques Poot and Steven Stillman, (2015).

"The Effect of Social Networks on the Economic Outcomes of a Disadvantaged Group: Evidence from Tribal Affiliations," with Steven Stillman, (2016).

"Economic Liberalisation and the Mobility of Minority Groups: Evidence from Māori in New Zealand," with Steven Stillman, IZA Journal of Migration, (2016), 5:4.

"Book Translations as Idea Flows: The effects of the collapse of Communism on the diffusion of knowledge," with Ran Abramitzky, Journal of the European Economic Association, (2014), 12(6): 1453-1520.
Paper: AS.pdf
Appendix: AS_Appendix.pdf
Online appendix: AS_online_appendix.pdf
Data and Stata code: AS_Data_&

"Diffusion of Green Technology: A Survey," with Corey Allan and Adam B. Jaffe, International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, (2014), 7: 1-33.
Abstract: Abstract_Green_Technology
Paper: Green_Technology

"Exporting, innovation and the role of immigrants," with Richard Fabling, Adam Jaffe, David C. Maré, and Lynda Sanderson, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Working Paper (2014).
Paper: IE

"Insights from Book Translations on the International Diffusion of Knowledge," doctoral dissertation, Department of Economics, Stanford University (2011).
Dissertation: Dissertation (note this is a very large file)

"The Dynamics of Adverse Selection in the Market for Slaves," (2008).
Paper: Slavery.pdf

"The Likely Regional Impacts of an Agricultural Emissions Policy in New Zealand: Preliminary Analysis," with Emma Brunton, Joanna Hendy and Suzi Kerr, Motu Working Paper 05-08 (2005). 

"The Geographical Mobility of Maori in New Zealand," with Steven Stillman, Motu Working Paper 05-05 (2005). 

“Taxes vs Permits: Options for Price-Based Climate Change Regulation,” with Suzi Kerr and Joanna Hendy, New Zealand Treasury Working Paper 05/02 (2005). 

"Maori Incomes: Investigating Differences Between Iwi," with David C. Maré, Motu Working Paper 04-06 (2004). 

“Bartercard?” University of Canterbury Honours Thesis (2002). 

Other writing

"The Adoption of Environmentally Friendly Technologies in Agriculture," Motu Research Note 12 (2012).

Review of How Many Languages Do We Need?  The Economics of Linguistic Diversity,  by Victor Ginsburgh and Shlomo Weber, in The Journal of Economic History, vol 72(1), March 2012, pp 282-283.
Review: Access at Cambridge Journals Online (subscription required)
Author's draft: How many languages review.pdf


Ran Abramitzky, Department of Economics, Stanford University, USA

Steve Stillman, Faculty of Economics and Management, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy

Dion O'Neale, Department of Physics, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Jacques Poot, National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis, University of Waikato, New Zealand

John Gibson, Waikato Management School, University of Waikato, New Zealand

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