Beka Adair ’16 has received a Fulbright Student Research Grant to the Kyrgyz Republic, where she will conduct economic development research, examining how the country's cultural value of hospitality has been affected by economic modernization.
Adair, an economics major from Houston, Texas, who spent nine years as a child in the Kyrgyz Republic, says, “I have hope that the country I knew as a young girl can keep its beautiful ways of relating while simultaneously transitioning to a diversified modern market economy.”
Her project in the Kyrgyz Republic is two-fold: The first part of her research will focus on economic modernization, where she will compare wage growth against the amount of time the Kyrgyz spend with guests in remote villages compared with the urbanizing capital of Bishkek. “Wage growth denotes economic modernization as it shows what economic sectors society values the most,” she says. “This will determine whether modernization has changed how much time the Kyrgyz people spend with guests because the Kyrgyz villages are still primarily agrarian while Bishkek is the Kyrgyz epicenter of economic modernization.”
The second part of her work involves comparing the wage growth rate to tea and sugar prices (controlling for inflation and population growth) to determine whether demand for these goods have increased or decreased over time. “Tea is the most basic good served to guests so if demand has decreased over time, even as wages have increased, I will determine if the Kyrgyz people are valuing the consumption less,” Adair says. “Previous comprehensive studies have found that economic modernization and development are linked with divergence from traditional values.”
While an undergraduate at Colorado College, she used economic analysis to uncover social and cultural ties and values, and her thesis evaluated how social ties and family values affected prison recidivism. Other projects in classes such as Economics of Inequality, Sociology of Developing Countries, and Economics of International Trade sought to determine why country’s economies and governments behave in the ways that they do.
After graduating from Colorado College, Adair worked as an intern for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation, later becoming an economic development analyst where she specialized in economic development, workforce development, and talent retention.
In January 2018 she joined the Quad Innovation Partnership, a joint initiative between four institutions of higher education in Colorado Springs — Colorado College, Pikes Peak Community College, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, and the US Air Force Academy — whose mission is serving the immediate needs of area businesses and organizations while offering professional development opportunities to students and recent graduates. She currently serves as associate director of Quad Innovation Partnership.
“In my two and a half years in the workforce I have worked both in city economic development and impact-driven community and organizational problem-solving through research and innovative design, pointing me toward an ultimate desire to work alongside developing countries and learn how they can modernize effectively in their own culturally unique ways,” she says.
That experience will help her with the research Fulbright in the Kyrgyz Republic, she says. “This study is the beginning of what I hope will be a long journey of work with developing economies in Central Asia.”