In the Summer before the second year of ARE's Graduate Program, students begin their second-year econometrics projects, also known as the second year paper. Students select an economic question that is of interest to them, and under close faculty supervision craft an empirical paper. A good empirical paper requires three components: a concise, sensible, and relevant research question or hypothesis to test; reasonably good data; and an experiment, event, or set of circumstances that give the data a chance to answer the question asked. Identifying a good question is a non-trivial exercise that takes time and effort. Over the course of the second year students work with a faculty advisor to meet specific deadlines, and the top second year paper wins the Sidney Hoos prize.
Wei Lin's paper "The Effect of Field of Study on Preferences and Beliefs: Evidence from Administrative Data and A Large Online Experiment," was chosen as this year's top paper, making it the winner of the Sidney Hoos Award. Congratulations Wei Lin!
Abstract: Education brings knowledge, shapes scope, and teaches values. Beliefs and preferences, as the central components of decision making and human capital of special form, may be affected as well. In this paper, we present evidence on the causal impact of economic education on students' preferences, beliefs and behavioral biases by exploiting a regression-discontinuity design that quasi-randomly assigns students to different majors given their major preferences (lexicographic preferences). We find that students who enroll in economic-related majors become more risk tolerant and patient over time. Their beliefs about others' altruism also tend to be more pessimistic, compared to non-economic-related students. Surprisingly, however, they themselves do not become less altruistic. We also find that these results are robust and not driven by major shock/dissatisfaction by examining the effect over time/across cohorts.
Pictured below are Wei Lin with Professor Elisabeth Sadoulet at the awards presentation.