Todd Richard Yarbrough, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Economics

Todd Richard Yarbrough

Todd Richard Yarbrough, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Economics

Office: Academic Building 208

Phone: (616) 632-1570



>Download Dr. Yarbrough's Vita (pdf)


Educational Background:

Ph.D., University of Tennessee
M.A., University of Tennessee
B.S.B.A., University of Tennessee

About Dr. Yarbrough
Hailing from East Tennessee, I graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2007 with a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration, majoring in Economics.  My work during undergraduate focused on the business and managerial applications of quantitative economics. In the fall of 2007 I began a Doctoral program in Economics at Tennessee. I completed course work for a Masters in 2009 and field courses in 2011 for the Ph.D. During graduate work, I focused on Environmental and Public Finance Economics, specifically studying the causal link between policy and outcomes. In the Fall of 2013, I completed my dissertation and joined the faculty at Aquinas College. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, beer brewing, and spending hours at the Fulton Street Farmers Market. I’m also an avid board-gamer, where I use my love of Game Theory to overthink relatively simple games. I live in Grand Rapids with my partner Annie, our two cats (Friedman and Clementine), and beagle (Dagny).
Courses Taught at Aquinas
  • ES 211 Principles of Microeconomics
  • ES 212 Principles of Macroeconomics
  • ES 300 Environmental Economics and Policy
  • ES 301 Money and Banking
  • ES 311 Intermediate Microeconomics
  • ES 399 Independent Study in Energy Economics
  • SB 660 Sustainability Economics (Master Level)
Teaching Interests
I specialize in teaching Environmental Economics and Public Finance to both undergraduate and graduate students. I am especially interested in facilitating a greater understanding of the political economy of federal and state government decision making in order to foster a more informed electorate. Additionally, I have a passion for introducing students to economics through the teaching of principles courses in macro and microeconomics.
Research Interests
As an applied microeconomist, I use econometric techniques to analyze various issues in public finance, such as balanced budget rules, rainy day funds, and tax and expenditure limits. With an emphasis on state and local governance decisions, my research uncovers the political economy of budgetary decisions, including tax and expenditure policies in the context of fiscal and political institutions. Through my research I also introduce issues of environmental economics, such as pollution abatement, public support for environmental regulation, and the valuation of renewable and non-renewable resources.
Current Research

Dissertation: Essays on State Fiscal Institutions
Advisor: Matthew Murray
Essay 1. “The Political Economy of Balanced Budget Rules: Evidence from U.S. State Environmental Expenditures”
Essay 2. “Rainy Day Funds and the Fiscal Mix: Evidence From U.S. States”
Essay 3. “Where is the Rain? Effect of Fiscal and Political Institutions on U.S. State Rainy Day Fund Balance”

“Municipal Zoning and Environmental Outcomes” (working paper)

“Pollution Abatement and Elections: Is There a Political Business Cycle in Firm Abatement?” (working paper)

“Trade at the State Level: Is There a Race to the Bottom for Foreign Direct Investment?” (working paper)



West Michigan World Affairs Council

National Tax Association

Southern Economic Association

Co-chair of Aquinas College Community Sustainability Committee

Managing Director of Aquinas College Green Revolving Fund

Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Conference, Fall 2013
The Economic Impact of American Involvement in the Syrian Civil War, Fall 2013 (AQ Poly Sci Club)
Panel participant: Income Inequality in the 21st Century, Fall 2013 (AQ History Department)
3-part lecture series: Are Recessions Inevitable?, Spring 2014 (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Aquinas College)
Sustainability 101, Spring 2014 (Aquinas College Sustainability Committee)
A Green Revolving Fund at Aquinas College: Opportunities and Risks, Spring 2014
West Michigan Economic Symposium, Fall 2014
Marginal Revolution (Economics Blog)
Freakonomics (Economics Blog)
St. Louis Federal Reserve Statistics (FRED)
University of Tennessee Dept. of Economics (My Alma Mater)