First, second, and third place medals.

Winners of the 2023 economics short paper competition announced

Students competed to win up to $300 and have their work published.

A short paper competition held by the Department of Economics resulted in eight economics students receiving cash prizes and being published in an ASU student–run journal.

Kelvin Wong, clinical associate professor and executive director of undergraduate programs in the Department of Economics, says he was happy to see the level of thought and effort students put into their submissions.

"The papers submitted were relevant and interesting," Professor Wong says. "I could see that students are paying attention to current events and trying to use economics to make sense of things."

Winning entries were published by the Economics Review at ASU, a peer-reviewed undergraduate economics publication, and can be found here.

There were two divisions for submissions. Division A included students who had only taken introductory courses. Division B included students who had completed the intermediate microeconomics course (ECN312).

Division A winners:

  1. Grace Guentzel
  2. Seth McMaster
  3. Ethan Tong
  4. Aval Daryani

Division B winners:

  1. Michael Volkert, Jr.
  2. ShahNawaz Abbas Syed
  3. Ryan Davitt
  4. Christian Hilgemann

The first prize for each division was $300, the second was $175, the third was $100, and the fourth was $50. Funding for the prizes came from the Centennial Professorship Award, which Professor Wong received in 2022.

All submissions were judged by the board of the Economics Review at ASU, then by three economics professors. Each winner was interviewed to confirm they were familiar with their work to ensure winning papers were not produced with artificial intelligence or paid services.

While this was the first time this competition was held, Professor Wong says it will be an ongoing event. "I'm excited for the next iteration of the contest and hope more students can take advantage of the opportunity to get their work published," he says.

Below, each winner shares key takeaways from the competition:

Grace Guentzel: It was interesting to learn how something like domestic violence could be evaluated economically and how this can shape policy–making going forward. After working on this paper, I am interested in studying household decisions from an economic standpoint. This has made me realize the importance of understanding how certain decisions within the household are made so that future policymaking can have its intended results.

Seth McMaster: While investigating the pandemic's effect on the video game industry, I was focused on conveying my findings from an unbiased, objective perspective. It was a challenge to culminate qualitative and quantitative data from reliable sources, especially considering sources contradicted each other occasionally. Ultimately, researching the video game industry displayed how complex and interdependent economics is.

Ethan Tong: The competition allowed me to draw parallels between the classroom and the professional world. I hope my piece will encourage others to draw connections between the classroom and the real world. As a finance major and aspiring financial service professional, understanding and communicating a narrative is a huge driver in one's success, and I am happy to have showcased my work through this competition.

Aval Daryani: Exploring the implications of the Malthusian Trap in the modern world, particularly in the context of environmental challenges, highlighted the importance of sustainable development and the need for responsible policies to ensure long-term economic growth and well-being, especially regarding population growth. Writing this paper furthered my interest in economics and its relation to business and world economies.

Michael Volkert Jr.: I learned the role of editing and reconfiguring until one is satisfied with their work. I combined my passion for sports and economics in an intriguing and in-depth manner. I plan on continuing to write on sports, law, and economics in law school and to join law review, so participating in this competition and having the opportunity to become published was important to me.

ShahNawaz Abbas Syed: I have always been interested in public policy, but this allowed me to connect that interest with concepts I have learned in my courses. The competition gave me the confidence to continue my economics studies and consider it beyond a bachelor's degree. As a computer science major, economics has been more of a passion, but now I'm inspired to continue pondering economic questions and investigate the field post-graduation.

Ryan Davitt: I learned how important it is to ask the right questions and understand why it is important. On top of that, when researching the solution, I learned to investigate the source of the data and its accuracy. Finally, I realized it's important to know how to take complicated concepts, condense them, and communicate them effectively.

Christian Hilgemann: I've been interested in the valuation of environmental damages for a while, and it was great to do a deeper dive into how those principles apply to climate change. I feel more confident in my understanding of methods used in environmental cost-benefit analysis. Also, very importantly, I understand more of their limitations and merits.

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