Kaminska Presents at Southern Demographic Association
Nov. 30, 2023
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Inspired by her triple major in economics, physics and mathematics, Jade Kaminska '25 delivered an oral research presentation at the 2023 Southern Demographic Association conference in San Antonio, Texas, this fall — a rare opportunity for an undergraduate student.
As an international student from Poland, Kaminska found value in writing her paper about a Polish program that provides tax incentives to families with children, and its affiliations with pre-primary education.
The Family 500+ program provides a tax-free benefit of 500 PLN (approximately $117) each month per child for families with at least two children, all low-income families with a child and all families with a child with a disability.
“Its main incentive is to increase the birth rate in Poland,” said Kaminska. “My research focuses on studying the impact of this program on access to pre-primary education. Pre-primary education in Poland covers children aged 3-6 and it can be quite costly.”
After discovering a positive impact on access to pre-primary education in urban areas following the introduction of the program in 2016, Kaminska found there wasn’t the same correlation in rural areas.
“On average, there are 1.5 kids per spot (in rural areas), meaning that there is a shortage of available spots,” she said. “The program seemed to improve access to pre-primary education only in urban areas, showing that this access is not uniform across the country.”
Kaminska serves as the current president of IWU’s Association for Women in Mathematics and vice president of the Economics Society at IWU. After graduating from Illinois Wesleyan, she plans to earn a Ph.D. in applied mathematics and continue her research before becoming a professor. Kaminska said she found the experience of presenting at such a level to be rewarding and informative.
“I was very happy to see my work get recognized at a national level and I enjoyed being able to introduce the audience to issues that are relevant to my home country of Poland. As one of the panelists for the Role of Social Policy session, I contributed to the discussion but also gained valuable feedback and learned from other researchers who are passionate about demographics. The experience made me a much better researcher,” she said.
Seeking mentorship from Assistant Professor of Economics Hieu Nguyen, Kaminska attributes her accomplishment to his “invaluable feedback, help and encouragement.” While enrolled in Nguyen's applied econometrics class in the spring, Kaminska said she gained the tools necessary to execute the project. Nguyen also helped polish the paper, encouraged Kaminska to attend the conference and helped her obtain funding.
Nguyen said it is unusual and a great accomplishment to see an undergraduate student present a paper as its sole author in this setting, which drew researchers from across the country.
“For this specific conference, which has a topical focus on population changes and demographic policy, I can imagine that the other panelists and speakers are all seasoned experts with years of experience in their fields,” said Nguyen. “Presenting research findings to obtain critical feedback from peers is an important part of an academic's professional growth.”
By Emily J. Schubert ‘27