Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

Denica Karadzhova ’07 (Stara Zagora, Bulgaria) conducted research for a project examining whether factory workers were compensated for expected periods of unemployment prior to the institution of unemployment insurance.

She collaborated with Howard Bodenhorn, professor of economics and business, through Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars program, in which students conduct research with faculty while earning a stipend. The program has helped to make Lafayette a national leader in undergraduate research. Many of the more than 160 students who participate each year share their work through articles in academic journals and/or conference presentations.

Karadzhova focused on compensating differentials during the early years of the 20th century. Compensating differentials are the extra wages paid to compensate for a negative aspect of an occupation, such as danger or periodic unemployment. Farmers and construction workers have traditionally received compensating differentials because they face seasonal unemployment.

But whether factory workers, who face periodic plant closings, receive compensating differentials is uncertain, and experts such as Adam Smith doubted their existence in manufacturing. Recent work by Bodenhorn and Susan Averett, professor and head of economics and business, has brought that view into question, however, making the results of this study of interest to labor economists.

“I looked at labor statistics in Connecticut at the turn of the 20th century and comparing those for large and small factories,” says Karadzhova, a double major in economics & business and Spanish.

“Deni started right at the beginning of the project, so she learned a tremendous amount,” says Bodenhorn. “She saw all the time-consuming data entry involved in research; it’s a grind. And because our data is 100 years old, she faced the challenge of reliable information — so she had to look for errors in the source data.”

Karadzhova agrees.

“I had to look carefully at all the figures in the tables because there were errors. So if something didn’t look right, I talked to [Professor Bodenhorn] and we looked to see what the error might be,” she says.

“The data entry certainly wasn’t very exciting, but it showed me what economics research is all about,” she adds.

Bodenhorn considers Karadzhova to be the ideal student.

“She is always prepared in class, asks questions, and she isn’t worried about grades,” he explains. “Deni honestly wants to learn.”

This isn’t the first extensive research project Karadzhova has undertaken. Finding Lafayette College from Bulgaria also called upon her determination and research abilities.

“I got information on 150 American schools,” she says. “I was looking for strong academics, schools that had aid for international students, and I wanted a small school. And Lafayette is in a great location, halfway between New York and Philadelphia. Everything I learned about Lafayette made me feel very comfortable.”

Karadzhova is a member of the German Club, serves as a peer adviser for the International Students Association, and works at Skillman Library and Kirby Sports Center.

As a national leader in undergraduate research, Lafayette sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year. Thirty-nine students have been accepted to present their work at the next annual conference this month.

Categorized in: Academic News