Memoir report, Ege Bayram

In this report, I explain my dissertation on the incidence of child labor. Through the creation of a theoretical model, I explore the relationship between dynamics of wage inequality and child labor. The aim of my work is to find a proper policy recommendation to solve (at least partially) both problems. Moreover, I briefly discuss the context of my memoir in a bit more detailed fashion.

In order to be able to begin my research I had to choose a field of study. Labour economics was my chosen field given that I am strongly concerned about the effects of income inequality and the existence of child labour. Additionally, I believe that they are two of the biggest current challenges that the world is facing. By knowing which field to study and which aspects to cover, I started to review the literature on the topic.

After exploring the existing literature, I decided to combine models on child labor with models on inequality with the aim of finding an adequate policy recommendation to simultaneously reduce child labor and wage inequality. Then I constructed a rough model to be sure that the main question is actually applicable, and constructed the final version of my research question afterwards. Finally, I developed an Overlapping Generations framework in which the response of household behavior to income shocks can be traceable through periods.

In the model, there are two groups in a given population divided by income levels in a small open economy. I impose the assumption that households prefer sending their children to school only if adult income is sufficient to support the family. If children go to school instead of working, they will obtain high wages as a result of human capital accumulated via schooling. As a result, when the previously schooled children become adults they will be able to feed their own children and, in some cases even have some surplus left. The policy suggestion of the paper can roughly be explained as follows: A redistributive policy in which government taxes, at least a part of the excess wage income of high wage households and, channels that to a randomly assigned small fraction of the poor households. The received income flows make that proportion of the poor households’ wealth, if it is sufficient households will send their children to school, leading to a decrease of child labor. As a consequence, the proportion of skilled human capital of the population will increase (therefore, high wage earner population). By increasing the level of human capital in society and assuming that population is fixed, the supply of low wage labor force will decrease. The result will be an increase in the wage from the low human capital individuals and, a reduction in the gap between high wage and low wage levels.

The theoretical model was my contribution current literature as well as the review of previous literature. To conclude, I can suggest writing a dissertation to those who are interested in pursuing an academic career and in the development of either theoretical or empirical models. In other cases, it can be that the marginal benefit from an internship is higher.

M1 Memoir report – The Economics of Religion

One of the most common questions among M1 students is “Have you gotten an internship yet?” Most of the students do not seem to consider a dissertation as an equivalent alternative to an internship, but rather as the last back-up plan. At first, I was also fooled by this common perception and kept searching for the internship of my dreams. However, I soon realised it was not what I wanted. I was going to apply for the M2 PPD programme, which would require quite a different skill set from what was needed in the M1 Eco-Stat programme. If I did not feel ready for the M2, how would I manage to be confident in an internship?

Working on a dissertation was a perfect solution for this dilemma – I was not used to reading and writing papers, so I wanted to practice this while deepening my knowledge on some of the topics I might come across next year or later in my career. Obviously, I still needed a research question. A good principle is to only write a dissertation about something that truly appeals to you; otherwise, it is nothing but a waste of time.

One day, I came across a few newspaper articles related to some religious phenomena. “There must be some economic research about this”, I thought and plunged into the endless resources of the Internet. I learned about the field of the Economics of Religion, which aims at studying religions with economic tools and reasoning. I knew this was a field I wanted to learn more about since values, cultures, and religions have always fascinated me. Is it not wonderful how people believe in different things, but in similar ways? I later decided to study some of the factors that might affect religious conversion. Indeed, it is a topical question in today’s world where immigration, the Internet, and social media enhance multiculturalism and shape people’s values and identities all over the world.

Every non-economist I discussed my dissertation with asked me the same question: “How is that economics? There is no money involved!” After all, it seems like the most valuable piece of knowledge is taught from the very first lecture of a Bachelor’s degree: it is not about money, but about opportunity cost. Indeed, a person who decides to change religions is subject to switching costs. Among others, he has to take into account his own values and wellbeing, the required commitments, as well the reactions of his family, friends, and the whole community.

All my economist friends pointed to another problem: “Religions cannot be measured! There cannot be any useful data out there.” I was worried about the same issue, but was surprised by the amount of data on religion that is actually available. Of course, given the restricted freedom of religion, the data is subject to a significant selection bias and false observations.

I am happy I decided to write a dissertation: not only did it allow me to gain self-confidence in many areas, but it also helped me realise some of my weaknesses that I will have to work on for the upcoming academic year. A dissertation might seem like the easy option as you can study a topic you want, work when you want, and take a day off when you want, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. You alone are responsible for the advancement of your project and the quality of the final report. It may be time to accept the challenge!

by Veera Nissi

Memoire Report: Fernando Stipanicic

Adventuring into the unknown, that is what it is all about. It was April 16, the day when thinking of courses was over and a new period was about to start: writing my own thesis. I had no clear idea of what I was going to write about, but I already knew that in around two months I was going to be on the stage presenting and defending my research in front of three critical committee members. Luckily, I had already completed a step; I had an advisor.

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