Graduate Student Spotlight: Richard Acquah-Sarpong

  Richard Acquah-Sarpong is a third-year student in the Applied Economics Ph.D. program.

He is originally from Ghana.


What is your area of research?

My current research focuses on regional development topics, delving into the intricate interplay between place-based policies and how economic activity is organized within spatial contexts. I am particularly interested in understanding the underlying mechanisms through which these policies and programs shape the spatial distribution of economic activities and their subsequent impacts on the development disparities observed across different geographic regions. Currently, I am working on how Oregon’s three-tier minimum wage policy impacts the rural-urban development development divide in the context of firm survival.

Why is your research important?

By conducting an in-depth analysis of this policy’s impact, I seek to unravel the complex interactions between minimum wage policies, firm behavior, and the distinctive challenges faced by businesses in different spatial contexts. Through my research, I want to uncover valuable insights into the differential effects of minimum wage policies on the resilience and sustainability of businesses operating in diverse regional landscapes, thereby shedding light on the nuanced dynamics that contribute to the broader discourse on regional development and economic disparity.

What are your previous schools and degrees?

I have a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Economics from the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. I pursued a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Economics from South Dakota State University. In parallel to my studies in Economics, I also undertook a second Master of Science (MSc) degree in Data Science from South Dakota State University. Collectively, my educational journey has equipped me with a strong foundation in both Economics and Data Science, fostering a comprehensive skill set that enables me to approach problems with a holistic and interdisciplinary perspective.

What inspired you to choose to study applied economics?

Having worked with the National Development Planning Commission in Ghana and been exposed to the challenges that communities face in their development, I was inspired to study how economics can play a crucial role in shaping public policy and influencing social and development outcomes. Also, economics involves quantitative analysis, data interpretation, and critical thinking. Applied economics provides a bridge to employ my economics and data science knowledge and skills.

Why did you choose Oregon State University?

I concentrated on universities with a strong applied economics program during my research for a Ph.D. program. The research being done by professors in the Department of Applied Economics and professors working on significant microeconomics and regional development topics makes Oregon State University an ideal fit for my background and research interests.

What is a fun or interesting fact about you?

I find great joy in both playing soccer and closely following its exhilarating matches. I am actively part of a team that plays in the intramural soccer competition each term. Beyond my involvement in the world of sports, I have also cultivated a profound interest in the art of portrait photography.