University of Victoria
Merwan Engineer’s research over the past decade has been in the areas of demographic methods and models, development economics, and social well being. His work on demographic methods involves understanding the demographics of age-group societies, societies identified in the anthropology literature as organizing themselves according to age groups. His paper “Overlapping Generations Models of Graded Age-Set Societies” (The Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics) proves the equivalency between classes of models across the disciplines.
In other modeling work, “Choosing Longevity with Overlapping Generations” (The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics) examines health and savings decisions and shows that an economy can stagnate in a “poverty trap”. In a poverty trap individuals are poor and short lived. However, if the economy starts with enough wealth, it can “take off” and future generations will eventually become wealthy and long lived. This paper reveals when the initial level of wealth matters for intergenerational health and longevity outcomes.
In work on social well being, Engineer has developed improved indices of human development. In particular, he has developed a methodological analysis of the well-known Human Development Index. He has also modified the index to take into account the quality of life. This work is published in Social Indicators Research and Indian Growth and Development Review.