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PhD Conference 2016

On 8 June the third annual PhD Conference took place at the Department of Economics. The conference is an opportunity for all doctoral students to present their resarch ideas and projects, and to get feedback from more senior faculty. Samson, Yashoda, Maksym, and Laura were four of the participating students.

Samson Mukanjari, Zimbabwe (2nd-year-student)

What is your research interest – and why?
– My research is in the area of climate change economics with a focus on climate change adaptation in developing countries. I focus on climate change adaptation due to the recent realisation that mitigation alone in the absence of adaptation will not be enough in solving the challenges posed to humankind by climate change. However, not much is understood yet regarding adaptation due to an earlier overemphasis on mitigation.

During a poster session you presented your research ideas. What kind of feedback did you get?
– I presented one of my ideas which explore the interaction between the developed and developing countries when it comes to climate change adaptation especially in the presence of climate related financial assistance from the developed countries. I received a lot of useful feedback on how I could further explore this research question and also on methodological issues that would need to be addressed. Other discussants also pointed me to some additional literature or resources that I have not utilized at this stage.

What do you think of being a doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg?
– Given my interest in environmental and resources economics, the University of Gothenburg is a natural choice as it is one of the leading places in this area in Europe. From time to time, the Department of Economics also hosts top researchers from other universities. This makes it easy for one to get feedback from experts other than one's own supervisors. Given the numerous seminar presentations taking place in the department throughout the year, it is easier to learn about the latest research and research methods in one's area. This is important especially during the research phase of the PhD programme.

Yashoda, India (4th-year-student)

What is your research interest – and why?
– Presently I am working on informal agreements for resource allocation with a special focus on groundwater contracts in India.
We are evaluating different contractual agreements in informal groundwater contracts. We are also exploring the role of kinship ties and trust between agents in these agreements.

– Informal agreements substitute formal institutional mechanism when formal institution works poorly or does not exist for resources allocation and which is the case in most developing countries. Therefore it is important to study how these arrangements work in the reallocation of water resource and what determine their success.

What are your results so far?
– Results are not complete yet. So far we know that agents who have involved in the groundwater sharing contract have relatively more trust towards their kins than non-kins.

How did you find the PhD conference?
– The PhD conference was a great experience. It is definitely useful, especially to get feedback on our work, to prepare ourselves to face the big and diverse audience.

Maksym Khomenko, Ukraine (2nd-year-student)

What is your research interest – and why?
– My research focuses on the effect of public policies on social welfare. In particular, I study the questions related to social insurance, taxation, inequality, industrial organization and labour market policies. I am excited about these questions because they have a direct relevance for making better policies. In addition, it requires a combination of deep theoretical thinking, convincing empirical methods and estimation techniques, which is intellectually challenging but an exciting part of the life of a PhD student.

During a poster session you presented your research ideas. What kind of feedback did you get?
– A poster session was a great opportunity to get feedback in an informal discussion with faculty and students. I have received many useful comments from my supervisors and faculty, who are experts in the field, concerning specific details of the analysis and the research questions. In addition, I received a useful feedback from those who work in completely different research areas but had a fresh view on my research, which is important for making the research being interesting and convincing for people outside your own research area.

What do you think of being a PhD student at the University of Gothenburg?
– I enjoy being a PhD student at the University of Gothenburg. The first two years of the program consisted in advanced core courses as well as provided an opportunity to take specialized courses of interest at the University of Gothenburg and other universities. What is even more important is the enormous support that all PhD students at the department get from the earliest stages of the research in terms of formal supervision, mentorship and just nice friendly environment, which encourages research thinking and exchange.

Laura Villalobos-Fiatt, Costa Rica (4th-year-student)

What is your research interest – and why?
– It is commonly accepted that a warmer planet brings damage. But we are less certain about what exactly is to be affected, how, and by how much. In order to understand better the implications of climate change, I am interested in explaining how weather shapes society. As humans we react to weather conditions in ways that might be very subtle, but when analyzed as an aggregate, some interesting patterns emerge. For example, there is already evidence showing that countries are less productive in warmer years, and that social unrest escalates under high temperatures.

– Here is another example: in my home country, Costa Rica, there is a noticeable pattern: high schools with the lowest academic performance tend to be located in the warmest and drier areas. This pattern motivated me to investigate the relationship between weather variation and the accumulation of human capital more closely. With this question in mind, I collected data on individual daily attendance to school. Together with information on local weather conditions, I can see if students skip lectures more often under bad weather conditions such as unusual temperatures or rainfall. Then I estimate how much absenteeism matters for the academic success.

What are your results so far?
– So far, I observe that absenteeism is higher in rainy and warmer days. If this relationship holds in general, it suggests that regional gaps in schooling achievement might not close under the predicted climate change scenarios of higher temperatures and more extreme weather events.

How did you find the PhD conference?
– The conference is an excellent opportunity for PhD students like me to present our ideas to technical audience. With their questions and feedback we are challenged to think and re-think our methods, results, and implications of our research. Presenting in our home institution also prepares us better for life after the PhD.


Page Manager: Ann-Christin Räätäri Nyström|Last update: 6/30/2016

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