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Scholar spotlight: Didem Tüzemen

Seeking inclusion amid economic turbulence

October 5, 2022


Tu-Uyen Tran Senior Writer
Collage with Didem Tüzemen photo
DIDEM TÜZEMEN, Senior Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Scholar spotlight: Didem Tüzemen

The research community at the Institute includes visiting scholars, consultants, economists, research analysts, and research assistants. These scholars bring a diversity of backgrounds, interests, and expertise to research that deepens our understanding of economic opportunity and inclusion as well as policies that work to improve both.

Over the past 50 years, most recessions in the United States have led to a larger share of men losing jobs than women. But in 2020, a couple of weeks after the pandemic began, Didem Tüzemen and a colleague pored over government statistics and found that this recession was having the opposite effect.

In past recessions, male-dominated jobs in industries such as construction and manufacturing were hit hardest. But most industries hit hardest by the pandemic recession—such as education and health care—were dominated by female workers, in particular women of color.

“Using data is extremely important to say something new. And we want to say something new which will also be timely so that it can have some impact on policy.”
— Didem Tüzemen

To uncover an economic trend and report it within weeks was exciting, Tüzemen said. “Using data is extremely important to say something new. And we want to say something new which will also be timely so that it can have some impact on policy.”

Tüzemen has long been interested in how economic and policy changes affect workers, especially the ways in which some groups of workers are affected more than others.

Her investigation of the 2020 recession’s immediate effect on women led to further research showing how their employment and labor force participation, especially among women of color with children, have taken longer to return to pre-pandemic levels than those of men and White women. Tüzemen has also studied job loss due to automation and off shoring, showing that it has led workers without college degrees in all sectors to drop out of the labor force.

As a math-loving college student, Tüzemen studied physics, which uses math to understand nature, and economics, which uses math to understand human behavior. She said she ultimately pursued an advanced degree in economics because she felt that she could use it to answer questions that have a direct impact on people’s daily lives.

Now, as an economist, her focus is on workers and their livelihoods. That focus aligns very closely with the mission of the Institute.

“Asking these detailed questions about the impact of policy changes, or the impact of long-term, structural changes to the economy on different groups, is important to make sure everybody wins from these big changes,” Tüzemen said.

More scholar spotlights from this issue
Tu-Uyen Tran
Senior Writer

Tu-Uyen Tran is the senior writer in the Minneapolis Fed’s Public Affairs department. He specializes in deeply reported, data-driven articles. Before joining the Bank in 2018, Tu-Uyen was an editor and reporter in Fargo, Grand Forks, and Seattle.