Southern Economic Association Honors Kara Smith with Georgescu-Roegen Prize

Dr. Kara Smith Headshot

Belmont Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Kara D. Smith was honored with the prestigious Georgescu-Roegen Prize by the Southern Economic Association (SEA), along with the University of Tennessee Knoxville’s Celeste K. Carruthers, during the SEA’s 90th Annual Meeting on November 22.

The Georgescu-Roegen Prize is awarded each year by the Southern Economic Association for the best academic article published in the Southern Economic Journal. Carruthers and Smith were awarded the 2020 prize for their article “Are ‘Education Lotteries’ Less Regressive? Evidence from Texas,” published in Volume 86 of the Southern Economic Journal (SEJ, Volume 86, Number 3, January 2020).

In this paper, the Smith and Carruthers obtained more than 2,000 press releases from the Texas Lottery Commission from 1993-2006 and performed content analysis on the frequency of specific terms regarding education and public schools. The press releases were also rated according to how much they discussed the lottery’s role in funding public education. Using these novel measures, the authors showed that lottery ticket purchasers in Texas were somewhat responsive to the purported use of lottery revenues in ways that make sales less regressive across space. The sales shift toward richer counties followed more potent education messaging through official channels.

ln 1997, lnstant Games and Lotto Texas sales were both regressive with respect to area income and that this remained true in the three years immediately after revenues were earmarked for education. However, beginning in the year 2000, the lottery was increasingly marketed as a funding stream for public education by the Texas Lottery Commission, which was a sharp shift in messaging. Shortly thereafter, the conditional area sales to income gradient began trending upward in the case of Instant sales but steadily downward for Lotto sales.

Their results suggested that unobserved factors other than statewide marketing played a much greater role in moving local demand for Instant and Lotto play. However, Instant game sales were modestly responsive to education messaging.