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PhD Conference 2015

In June 2015, the second annual PhD Conference in Economics was held at the School of Business, Economics and Law. Four of the students who presented their work were interviewed about their research.

1. What is your research about?
2. Why do you find the subject interesting?
3. What are the results so far?

Verena Kurz, Germany

1. My research is about gender differences in seeking challenges. I want to know both if such differences exist, and if information can have an impact on men's and women's behavior when it comes to select tasks of different difficulty levels. There is some evidence women are less confident in their skills then men and tend to select easier tasks, even if skill levels do not differ or only differ slightly. I want to see if this is true, and if information that has the potential to increase confidence can make a difference.

2. Although women have caught up tremendously when it comes to education during the last decades, they still earn on average less than men. A large part of this wage gap can be explained that men and women select different occupations, or different branches within an occupational field. For example, within the subject of business administration, men are overrepresented in specializations that are considered difficult but generate high wages, such as finance, while women are more likely to select specializations, such as marketing. I want to know if this can to a certain degree be explained by differences in how men and women react to tasks that are considered difficult or challenging.

3. In my experiment, we can see that men are more likely to select a difficult task than women, even when I compare men and women that perform equally well in an easy task. There is also some evidence that women are more senisitive to information than men. However, I need to collect more data to verify the preliminary results from the first experiments I ran during the summer.

Mikael Moutakis, Sweden

1. I want to know how the Swedish market for dental care works. More precisely, I want to know how the state influences what the patients and the dentists do, and if the approximately 6 billion SEK of the taxpayers money spent yearly is put to good use.

2. Going to the dentist is something most people can relate to. What might be news to many is that the Swedish dental market is exceptionally liberal. The patient can choose any dental provider they want, and can switch provider freely. The dentist or dental hygienist can open a clinic anywhere, and charge anything they like. We have publicly owned dental clinics (Folktandvården) but they compete on the same terms as the private clinics.

At the same time, it is not easy for me as a patient to know if I get good value for the money I spend. This freedom and the problems exercising it wisely is a good example of a "market failure"; something I as an economists take delight in dissecting.

I'm not only a PhD student here, but also employed as an analyst at the government agency that controls the adult dental reimbursement system. You could say that understanding the market is a job requirement for me.

3. At the moment I’m researching the effect of the so called national reference price; a crucial component of the dental reimbursement system. The reference price is supposed to provide the patient information about what it costs on average to produce a treatment with reasonable quality.

If the state reimburses a dental treatment, the dentist or dental hygienist is forced to print out the reference price on every receipt and cost estimate. The reference price also controls how much you as a patient have paid yourself through the dental reimbursement every adult is entitled to.

My results indicate that people do not like when a dentist charges a too low or too high price in relation to the reference price. If the dentist's price is too low, people believe that the quality is bad. If the price is to high, they think they can get a better deal elsewhere.

Josephine Gakii Gatua, Kenya

1.The risk of malaria infection in Kenya depends on the region you reside in. Some regions have a high risk of infection while others have low and some experience it seasonally. The research is on how people in these different malaria risk regions perceive the risk of malaria infection for themselves and for the village they live in, and how this affects their usage of nets.

2. Malaria is a disease that has existed for decades and efforts of eradicating it in Sub-Saharan Africa have not been successful. Therefore, preventing the spread of malaria is a key avenue to lower the disease burden. Because of their effectiveness, Insecticide Treated Bed Nets are the widely used health technology for prevention of malaria. Therefore, successful prevention depends on the access and usage of insecticide bed nets. However, even with increased access through subsidies, usage of bed nets has remained low.

3.We plan to conduct a pilot study this summer in two regions with different risks of malaria infection.

Carolin Sjöholm, Sweden

1. My research is about childcare and female entrepreneurship. I investigate the effect of access to subsidized childcare on the performance of female-run microenterprises in Mexico.

2. I am interested in how public policy can improve the well-being of people. Self-employed workers account for a large share of the labor market in developing countries and microenterprises represent a key source of livelihood and income for low-skilled workers.

Firms run by women, however, are in general smaller, less efficient and less profitable than those of their male counterparts. They are also concentrated in less profitable business sectors. Understanding the constraints of female entrepreneurs and how policies can help alleviate such limitations could potentially contribute to improved welfare and female empowerment.

3. There are no results so far.

BY: MARIE ANDERSSON

Page Manager: Ann-Christin Räätäri Nyström|Last update: 9/21/2015
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