Economists from Mexico are teaming up with the University of Texas at Tyler to study the impact of human capital and oil and gas in the region.

Two doctoral candidates from Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo León worked with UT Tyler’s Hibbs Institute for Business and Economic Research to present their findings to community leaders and launch new avenues for research at an event at the university on Dec. 18.

Berenice Sanchez spoke about the economic impact the oil and gas industry has on related sectors, while Cecilia Cuellar discussed the economic impact of human capital investment.

Hibbs Institute Acting Director Manuel Reyes said the findings would be beneficial to future research.

“It’s of mutual benefit because for them, it’s an experience as a student working with a research center in the U.S., and for us it’s a collaboration (that will lead to) more products and more research to share with the community,” Reyes said.

In her presentation, Cuellar began by answering why research into human capital matters and what businesses can learn by studying their workforce.

“I typically attend these types of research presentations with a lot of questions, and at the end I have some answers and more questions because it’s so interesting,” Reyes said.

“You want to know more and more. We want this to be the starting point of further research. Both topics are extensive.”

Reyes said they were putting into practice what they’ve spent the past few years studying.

With Cuellar’s presentation, education and community leaders got a glimpse at the educational disparities in the region. While Smith and Gregg County serve as the economic and educational engines of the region, she found that gross domestic product ranking and degree attainment is drastically lower for the rest of the region.

For example, the rate of skilled workers in Gregg and Smith counties averaged 25.5% and 32%, respectively, while the rest of East Texas ranged from 9.2% to 18.2%. The region studied included an area from east of Dallas to the Texas-Louisiana border and north to the Red River.

Sanchez discussed the impact oil and gas breaks, which are drastic price fluctuations, have on related industries and commerce in the area. She also looked at possible impacts on employment in other sectors as a result.

The Hibbs Institute, which is part of UT Tyler’s Soules College of Business, was created to help improve incomes and the quality of life for East Texans through research and economic analysis.