Lewis S. Davis

lewis headshot wamc 2015

Professor of Economics

Union College

Lippman Hall 118, 807 Union Street, Schenectady, NY 12308

Ph.D. in Economics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1999.
BA in Mathematics, Davidson College, 1988
Curriculum Vitae


I joined the Economics Department at Union College in 2006 and received tenure in 2011.  I previously held positions at Smith College, the University of New Hampshire, and SUNY Oswego, and served as a visiting professor at Martin Luther University, Germany, University of Perugia, Italy, and IESEG, France.  I have spent two sabbaticals as a scholar-in-residence at New York University.  I work primarily on the economics of culture and teach classes on the economics of culture, economic development and the economics of sin.


I have over 30 peer-reviewed or invited publications addressing a broad range of topics, with recent work focusing on the economics of growth, culture, religion, gender inequality, immigration, and social status.  Recent publications have appeared in the Journal of Public Economics, Economics LettersJournal of Economic Growth, European Economic Review, Journal of Comparative Economics, and Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.  I served as Associate Editor for the Princeton Encyclopedia of the World Economy, 2009.

For more information on my research, including access to working papers, datasets, and published articles, please click here.

In the Media

Gendered Language and the Educational Gender Gap

  • This paper was written with Megan Reynolds, class of 2016, and is an extension of her senior thesis project.  It was featured in an editorial on gendered language in The Conversation, March 8, 2018, and a segment on NPR’s Academic Minute, July 18, 2018.

Social Animal House: The Economic and Academic Consequences of Fraternity Membership

Individual Responsibility and Economic Development:  Evidence from Rainfall Data

  • My research linking rainfall patterns, individualism and economic development was featured on WAMC’s Academic Minute, Nov. 17, 2016.
  • It was also featured on the economics blog Marginal Revolution, Sept. 21, 2016.

Social Status and Racial Solidarity 

  • My work with Stephen Wu (Hamilton College) on Social Status and Racial Solidarity was featured on WAMC’s Academic Minute, Dec. 2, 2015.


In addition to teaching several standard courses, including Introductory Economics and Microeconomic Theory, I teach a number of courses that are unique to Union College.  The Economics of Sin applies economic analysis to topics like the market for transplantable organs, addiction, crime, polygamy, prostitution and the war on drugs.  I also teach senior-level seminars on Economic GrowthPolitical Economy and the Economics of Culture.

For more information on my teaching and access to current syllabi, please click here.

Professional Service

I serve on the Editorial Board of the Eastern Economic Journal and am a Managing Editor of the Review of Economics and Institutions.  In 2015, I organized the Workshop on Macroeconomic Research at Liberal Art Colleges, which was hosted at Union College.

In 2017, I organized the Symposium on Religion, Social Conflict and Social Cohesion, which addressed the ways in which religion unites and divides us, as individuals and societies, and fostered discussion of how different disciplinary approaches to the study of religion inform, complement and challenge each other.  The Symposium was supported by Union’s Our Shared Humanities initiative, which was funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

I am also one of the organizers of Union College’s Gender Studies Research Lunch, which began in 2018 and seeks to provide an outlet for scholarly work and to promote the development of professional relationships among gender researchers at Union College.

Economic Consulting

I am available for economic consulting and policy analysis.  Please email me for details, references, and examples of my recent work.

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