Susan Pozo, professor of economics at Western Michigan University.
As a budding economist, Susan Pozo specialized in foreign exchange rates. However, she later turned her eye to worker remittances, the money that immigrants send back to their country of origin.
Remittances, which are part of a country’s balance of payments, weren’t mentioned very much in textbooks at the time. But she recognized the importance of this international financial flow because of her childhood living in Venezuela, where Colombian immigrants would send back money to Colombia.
“It was really through that that I ended up bringing to the table this idea that remittances are a really important economic force that we need to study,” said Pozo, who is director of the Global and International Studies program and professor of economics at Western Michigan University. “So 10 or 15 years into my career, I switched from studying exclusively exchange rates to studying remittances.”
In a Women in Economics Podcast Series episode, Pozo discussed her research on economic forces surrounding remittances and the benefits of living abroad and experiencing different cultures. (The episode includes a transcript of the interview; it also includes a second podcast recorded in Spanish.)
Pozo didn’t plan on becoming an economist when she first enrolled in Barnard College. She thought taking some economic classes would help her prepare for a career in diplomacy. But she soon found herself in love with the math, statistics and working with data. By 1980, she had earned a doctorate in economics from Michigan State University.
Like many women, Pozo has faced challenges in the profession. When she had her first child, the chair of her department asked her whether she was going to quit her teaching job.
Her answer was no; while in the hospital after childbirth, she prepared for upcoming classes that would start in four weeks.
“No, I wasn’t going to quit,” she said.