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PhD Conference 2017

On the annual PhD conference 22 May 2017 doctoral students at the Department of Economics presented their ongoing research projects to fellow economists. The conference is an opportunity to get useful feedback and learn from more senior faculty.

Melissa Rubio Ramos, Sebastian Larsson and Debbie Lau, all third-year doctoral students, were interviewed about their work.

1. What did you present at the PhD conference and what did you think of it?
2. What is your research topic in general and why do you find it interesting?
3. What are your main results so far?
4. What is it like being a doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg?

Melissa Rubio

Master degree from Los Andes University, Colombia

1. A project called "The effect of armed conflict on social capital in Colombia: evidence from an exogenous variation in an illegal market". I think that it is a great opportunity to receive valuable feedback from people working in different fields, and it is also good training for future presentations in our careers as researchers.

2. My research focuses on economic development, specifically on the consequences of conflict on local institutions. I study the case of Colombia - a conflict that has lasted more than 50 years and was boosted by cocaine trafficking. I find this topic interesting because is it necessary to provide a deeper understanding of local conditions to implement community based policies in the post-conflict period. In my future research I plan to study the effects of landmines on development in Cambodia because I want to learn from another conflict-affected context different from Colombia.

3. In conflict areas social capital is negatively affected, people trust less in their neighbors and are less willing to help solving community problems. The results suggest that people participate less in community meetings and committees to avoid being visible for armed groups, whose war strategy is to target the most salient members of the community in order to harm the social networks and take control over populations more easily. These findings matter in so far, as in developing countries like Colombia, people rely on friends and relatives during adverse situations when formal institutions work poorly.

4. The University provides a stimulating and friendly environment to develop ideas, we can work on topics that we are passionate about using rigorous research methods, guided by supervisors that challenge us to give the best through regular discussions.

Link to Melissa Rubio's web page

Sebastian Larsson

Master degree from University of Gothenburg

1. I presented a theoretical paper modelling how the choice of firms to adopt non-profit status depends (among other things) on the degree of competition in the market. I found it very interesting to hear what everybody had been working on, and I got very good feedback on my work!

2. In a broad sense, quality and quality signalling in competitive scenarios, and non-traditional market structures. For example the use of company status to signal quality, but I am also interested in how different market structures affect quality provision.

3. In this paper, the results suggest that moderate competition is tied to the strongest incentives for firms to be non-profit, and that policy makers need to be careful when setting incentives, since there can be unintended consequences.

4. It is a very good research environment, and people are in general very supportive.

Link to Sebastian Larsson's web page

Debbie Lau

Master degree from Uppsala University

1. I presented my first paper, which studies the effects of mandating low-performing students to study with their mother tongue, as opposed to English, in secondary school. One of my main results is that the policy increases the likelihood of unemployment for those without university qualification.

The PhD conference is an excellent chance to present our progress to audiences from different research fields. It is because all researchers from the department are invited to the conference. I think that it is a good training to present our research to audiences with different specialties.

2. I am interested in mobility in general. This has led me to formulate research questions on the effects of educational policies and early life health conditions, because of the fact that children from disadvantaged families are less likely to access good education, and usually have worse health conditions in their early life. This can all cause them to have worse labour market outcomes than others.

3. As I presented in the PhD conference, the results of my first paper show that mother tongue education increases one’s chance to be unemployed while this policy only affects low-performing students in secondary school. In the case of Hong Kong, they comes mostly from disadvantaged families. Thus, the government should be cautious that educational intervention targeted only to a group of students may exacerbate initial disadvantage.

4. It has been a rewarding experience to be a PhD student here. Among others, the best thing is the interaction between colleagues. Supervisors and other researchers are happy to comment on research ideas of PhD students. It has helped me a lot to shape my research interest.

Link to Debbie Lau's web page

BY: MARIE ANDERSSON

Page Manager: Ann-Christin Räätäri Nyström|Last update: 6/12/2017
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