Adem Elveren

Winner of the 2023 Faculty Award for Research and Scholarship
Adem Elveren headshot

I have always been interested in social and economic inequalities as someone raised in a poor family in an underdeveloped city in Turkey.

Associate Professor Adem Elveren of the Economics, History and Political Science Department conducts research rooted in themes that are international in scope yet resonate at the most local and personal levels. He describes his research as not just a part of his profession, but a core aspect of his philosophy of life.

His published work focuses on systemic social and economic inequality and was born from his lived experiences growing up in Turkey.

“I have always been interested in social and economic inequalities as someone raised in a poor family in an underdeveloped city in Turkey,” he said. “My sister, who is 10 years older than me, is only a junior high school graduate. She was not able to continue her education not only because of our economic situation but, more importantly, due to her care work responsibilities in the household and an atmosphere in which girls were discouraged from attending school.”

Elveren has also published numerous pieces exploring the relationship between income inequality and military spending, issues which are also common phenomena in Turkey.

“I was particularly interested in inequality because I had a chance to work with famous scholar James K. Galbraith to calculate a pay inequality index in Turkey,” Elveren said.

“Adem Elveren joined the research group of the University of Texas Inequality Project around 2008 and contributed five working papers over the following two years -- a handsome contribution,” said Galbraith, who holds the Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and a professorship in Government at The University of Texas at Austin. “(Elveren’s) work covered the evolution of inequality in Turkey under the neoliberal policy regime in deep detail, and then began to address his longstanding interest in the economic implications of military spending. He stands today as one of the few and leading specialists in this area, which is understudied by economists and in the most pressing need of greater attention.” 

Elveren said his scholarly work has enriched his teaching, including courses on principles of macroeconomics and microeconomics, U.S. economic history, global issues, development economics, and history of economic thought.

“Thanks to my research, particularly in development economics and history of economic thought classes, I can easily enrich the course materials by utilizing the findings of my own research, going beyond the textbook,” he said. “Supporting the content of the class with my works helps to increase the attention and participation of the students and makes the class more informative and influential for them. I enjoy teaching development economics even more because I enrich the discussions on major issues such as the relationship between economic growth and gender, income inequality, deunionization, and military expenditure. My empirical works on these topics serve as a complement to the textbook.”

Beyond teaching, Elveren has been able to involve students in his research pursuits.

Joseph Bourgeois, who was the valedictorian of the Class of 2021 and completed his MBA at Fitchburg State in 2022, took several of Elveren’s courses and is a credited co-author of a published article in Applied Economics Letters.

“One of my favorite aspects within Professor Elveren’s courses was the discussions,” said Bourgeois, who now works for the university’s Financial Services. “Turning the concepts into a conversation that allows everyone to provide input has a lot of value and it makes the content more interesting, especially when you can provide a contribution.”

Bourgeois said Elveren’s approach made subject matter accessible and practical. “Faculty-student research is an enriching experience for both faculty and the students,” he said. “I think it’s important to expand these types of projects to provide students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge to real world applications.” 

Elveren said balancing teaching and scholarship was made possible by the fact he genuinely enjoys doing his research, and having a supportive community on campus. “I think the most important thing is that I was very lucky that I worked with great colleagues, they kept my motivation very high.”