Professor Mary Lopez
Professor, Economics
B.A., UC Riverside; M.A., Ph.D., University of Notre Dame
Appointed In
Fowler 214
On leave

Professor Lopez's research is in the areas of labor economics, applied micro, and demography.

My work focuses mainly on immigration and immigration policy. I examine the impact of immigration policy on immigrants, their families, and their communities. I've written on the ways that U.S. immigration enforcement impacts the schooling progression of children and the political participation and naturalization patterns of individuals in mixed-status households. I have also explored questions related to immigrant detention, immigrant entrepreneurship, as well as immigrant retirement and social security claiming behavior. My recent work looks at how U.S. strategies to manage migrant inflows impact the speed at which unaccompanied migrant children are reunified with their families. 

In addition to my work on immigration, I am currently evaluating the impact of in-person college-in-prison programs on the lives of incarcerated individuals. My co-author and I exploit the expansion of these programs following a California law that allowed public colleges and universities to receive state funds for classes taught in prison. We examine how the programs shape incarcerated individuals’ preparation for release. 

I have also written on creating a sense of belonging for undergraduates studying economics, as well as how to incorporate discussions of race and racism into introductory economics.

I am a member of the American Society for Hispanic Economists (ASHE), where I currently serve on the Dissertation Award Committee and I am a board member on the Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession (CSMGEP).

Currently, I am on leave as the 2023-24 CORE Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences (CASBS), Stanford University where I am working on the enCOREage project. 

Research | Teaching


Published and Forthcoming Papers

"Teaching Discrimination in Introductory Economics: An Approach Incorporating Stratification Economics" with Jorgen Harris, forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Education.

"How to Belong: Inclusive Pedagogical Practices for Beginning Instructors of Economics" with Kirsten Wandschneider, forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Education

"Addressing the Surge in Unaccompanied Migrant Children" with Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes and Jose Bucheli. AEA Papers and Proceedings (2023)

"Creating an Anti-Racist Pedagogy in Principles of Microeconomics," with Fernando Lozano in Phil Ruder and Mark Maier (eds.) Teaching Principles of Microeconomics, Edward Elgar Publishing (2023)

"The Role of Global Perceptions on International Student Enrollments" with Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes and Ashley Muchow  in K. Bista and C. Glass (eds.) Studies in Global Student Mobility, Routledge (2022)

"Immigration Policy, Immigrant Detention, and the U.S. Jail System," with Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, Criminology and Public Policy (2022)

Immigration, Sanctuary Policies, and Public Safety” with Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes and Thitima Puttitanun, International Migration Review (2021)

“Recent Changes in Immigration Policy and U.S. Naturalization Patterns” with Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, Review of Economics of the Household (2021)

“Do Immigrants Delay Retirement and Social Security Claiming?” with Sita Slavov, Applied Economics (2020).

Mexican Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Los Angeles: Neighborhood Poverty and Segregation in the (Re-) Production of Disadvantage, with Dolores Trevizo, Palgrave Macmillan (2018)

“Interior Immigration Enforcement and the Political Participation of U.S. Citizens in Mixed-Status Households” with Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, Demography (2017)

“The Hidden Educational Costs of Intensified Immigration Enforcement” with Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, Southern Economic Journal (2017)

“Neighborhood Segregation and Business Outcomes: Mexican Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Los Angeles County” with Dolores Trevizo, Sociological Perspectives (2016)

“Falling through the Cracks? Grade Retention and School Dropout among Children of Likely Unauthorized Immigrants” with Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, AEA Papers and Proceedings  (2015)

“Poverty Among Hispanics in the United States” in Marie T. Mora and Alberto Davila (eds.) The Economic Status of the Hispanic Population (2013)

“Border Enforcement and Selection of Mexican Immigrants in the United States” with Fernando Lozano, Feminist Economics (2013)

“Skilled Immigrant Women in the U.S. and the Double Earnings Penalty” Feminist Economics (2012)

"Antipoverty Policy: The Role of Individualist and Structural Perspectives," with Gbenga Ajilore, William Darity, Jr., and Leslie Wallace, in the Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Poverty (2012)

"The Reality of Reality Television," with Lesley Chiou, Economics Letters (2010)

"The Labor Supply of Immigrants in the United States: The Role of Changing Source Country Characteristics," with Fernando Lozano, AEA Papers and Proceedings (2009)

"Incorporating Service Learning Into the Economics Curriculum," Review of Black Political Economy (2009)

“Mexican Immigrant Entrepreneurship in Los Angeles: An Analysis of the Determinants of Entrepreneurial Outcomes,” with Dolores Trevizo in Alfonso Morales, David Torres and John Sibley Butler (eds.) An American Story: Mexican American Entrepreneurship & Wealth Creation, Purdue University Press (2009)


Courses Taught
Principles of Economics II (Econ 102)

A continuation of Economics 101 that completes the coverage of economic principles by incorporating the development of more sophisticated analytical tools. Microeconomic topics include production costs, the behavior of firms under different market structures (competition, monopoly, and oligopoly), taxation and income distribution, and input markets. Macroeconomic topics include the Keynesian model of output determination, the monetary system, and the effects of fiscal and monetary policies. Prerequisite: Economics 101.

Economics of Immigration (Econ 324)

This course examines the theoretical and empirical models developed to study the economics of immigration. The course examines the various economic issues that have dominated the debate over immigration policy in the United States and other receiving countries. These issues include the rate of economic assimilation experienced by immigrants; the impact of immigrants on the wage and employment opportunities of native-born workers; the fiscal impact of immigration; undocumented immigration; immigrant access to public programs; the source and magnitude of the economic benefits generated by immigration; and immigrant remittances. The course also examines the extent to which the economic impact of immigration persists across generations and compares the consequences of different immigration policies pursued by some of the largest immigrant-receiving countries. Prerequisite: Economics 101.

Labor Economics (Econ 325)

The goal of Labor Economics is to enable you to use economic analysis and reasoning to understand wage and employment determination in U.S. labor markets. This course will expose you to current theoretical and empirical debates within the discipline. We will cover such topics as labor force participation, labor demand unemployment, labor mobility, wage structure, labor unions, human capital investments (education and training), internal labor markets, and labor market discrimination. Relevant public policy issues such as the minimum wage, living wage ordinances, compensating wage differentials, immigration policy, affirmative action, income inequality, and welfare programs also will be addressed in this course. Prerequisite: Economics 250.

Economics of Race and Gender (Econ 328)

An examination of the historical and contemporary economic positions of women and underrepresented groups in the United States. Primarily this course is designed as an overview of major theories, trends, and debates on the topic of race, gender, and economic inequality in the labor market. Specific topics include racial and sexual discrimination, labor market segmentation, wage differentials, labor force participation, redlining, educational disparities, and income and wealth inequality. Relevant public policy issues such as affirmative action and welfare also will be addressed. Prerequisite: Economics 102.

ASSETS Program

ASSETS is a unique integrated first-year learning community for students interested in economic and social issues. The ASSETS program combines Econ 101 (Principles of Economics I), Econ 102 (Principles of Economics II), and two economics-related CSP courses (CSP 5: Economics by Example and CSP 5: Increasing Returns to Scale), letting students complete their two required first-year College-writing courses, as well as the year-long economics introductory sequence. ASSETS integrates theory and application through the use of analytical models, data, and public policy analysis. ASSETS will provide students with training in qualitative and quantitative reasoning that will serve to strengthen the way they think and write. This program serves as an excellent foundation for just about any major that students might pursue at Oxy. Because students participating in the ASSETS program take these courses together as part of a learning community they form strong, positive relationships with their classmates and instructors; engage more deeply with the course content; and have an academic and social support network to achieve academic success. To enhance the first-year learning experience, ASSETS is supplemented by a rich set of co-curricular activities, including advising and mentoring by the ASSETS faculty, peer mentoring by junior and senior Occidental students, and individual and group tutoring sessions. ASSETS also partners with Student Services and the Occidental Hameetman Career Center to sponsor workshops that support adjustment to College life and help prepare students for future career paths. (Program last offered in 2019-2020)

Other courses I teach: Principles of Economics I (Econ 101), Applied Econometrics (Econ 272), MSI: Multicultural Summer Insitute