Salvador Contreras

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Biography

Salvador Contreras received his PhD in Economics from Claremont Graduate University in 2007. Salvador’ s Doctoral focus was International and Development Economics. The body of his work has centered on the question of human capital development. Salvador’s early research addresses topics of human capital development on economic growth and political economy. His models have added context to interpret observed human behavior. This is particularly so in the areas of child labor and migration/immigration.

Salvador’s work has evolved from mostly theoretical work to empirical studies of educational attainment. His work centers on known human need of relative comparison. His current research addresses the effects of social interactions and environment on academic effort/attainment.

Salvador began his academic career at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana in 2007. Salvador later joined the University of Texas-Pan American (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley as of September 2015) in 2009. During his tenure he has served in numerous committees and school/department activities. He has been part of a number of leadership development programs. Salvador was appointed Faculty Director of the Coca-Cola First Generation Scholars Program in 2012. In 2014, he was appointed Director of the Center for Border Economic Studies.

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Work-in-Progress

Texas border MSAs and their reliance on Mexican Tourist. Working Paper, 2016.  (with Abdelhamid Riani and Nathaniel Karp)

Texas border MSAs and their reliance on Mexican Tourist

This paper investigates the factors and effects that Mexican Tourists have on Texas Border counties. We take advantage of the high variation in border crossings and the relative isolation of the Texas border region to identify the casual effect that Mexicans have on taxable sales. Our results indicate that a 10\% increase in bus and car crossers have an effect of about 0.3 to 1\% on sales, respectively. More telling, Mexicans who live further from the border have a greater effect on sales relative to improvements in economic conditions of nearby Mexicans. In addition, we find that for the periods 2010 to 2014 the Texas border region growth in sales has come mainly from population growth and Mexican tourists and not from improvements in regional economic activity. (With Abdelhamid Riani and Nathaniel Karp)

For Economic Advantage or Something Else? A Case for Racial Identification Switching. Working Paper, 2015.

For Economic Advantage or Something Else? A Case for Racial Identification Switching

The identity choices people take on serve as a filter for viewing the world.  It is believed that race identity formation is in part a response to economic and social incentives.  Using NELS 1988 dataset we evaluate at the individual level factors that affect changes in self-reported racial identity. We find that being multiracial, living in a non-affirmative action ban state, and relative income/education measures within race groups have an effect on racial identity switching.  We find strong evidence that the social-political environments surrounding an affirmative action ban alters the likelihood that an individual will change race.  Our results suggest that social factors when present dominate economic incentives to take on a different racial identity.

Looking for status appeal?  Act interested in your child's education.  Working Paper, 2015.

Looking for status appeal? Act interested in your child's education

We present a theoretical and empirical analysis of household positional and non-positional time investment choices in the education of her child. We show that a parent who is mindful of her relative position in the income distribution will use her time investment choices to influence her perceived status. Our theoretical model predicts that visible time investment increases as members of her reference group move up in rank. We show that moving down in rank lowers utility. We employ NELS (1988) dataset to test our model prediction and show that visible time invested in child's education is explained by place on the income distribution.