Student Research

Through the generous contributions of supporters, foundations and alumni the Department of Economics is able to offer the following competition and scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students. In all cases, students must be officially declared economics majors and in good standing.

The Department of Economics currently runs two research competitions for students. Papers must be developed under the guidance of an SJSU Economics faculty member, and must be examples of academic economics research.

Semiannual Best Paper Proposal Competitions

At the end of each semester, students may submit an original scholarly paper they have produced. A committee of current economics faculty will be assembled to judge the submissions. Submissions are due on December 18th for the Fall semester and May 21st for Spring semester. Each semester we will plan to make six awards total, with three awards (First, Second, Third) in two categories: undergraduate and graduate. First place awards are $1500; second place are $1000, and third place $500.

To apply, complete the Application Form and email your completed research paper in PDF format to the director of the research and proposal competitions, currently
Dr. Matthew Holian.

Apply via GoogleDocs
Best Paper / Proposal Competition Application Form.

Dr. Matthew Holian
Director, Research and Proposal Competitions 

Competition Deadline Award (anticpated)
Fall Competition December 18th First prize $1,500,
Second prize $1,000
Third prize $500
For both UGrad and Grad
Spring Competition May 21st First prize $1,500,
Second prize $1,000
Third prize $500
For both UGrad and Grad

Winners will be invited to present their research at the Annual Economics Department Award Celebration during the Spring semester, and are invited to present their work at the annual meetings of the Association for Private Enterprise Education in either the undergraduate poster competition or in a graduate student session. Winners will be awarded scholarships to help defray the cost of attending. Past meetings have been held in Las Vegas, Maui, Bahamas, Cancun, among others. Students must be 21 years of age by the start of the conference to attend.

Fall 2018 Best Paper Awards

Graduate Student Winners:

Anteneh Ayele
"Willingness to Pay and Energy Efficiency"
Abstract: Theoretically, energy efficiency building codes would decrease the household energy consumption and hence energy expenditure. But, it will also add to the front end cost of construction of buildings with these efficiency codes. Since the costs and benefits associated with energy efficiency improvement does not have an explicit marketed value, measuring the impact of such energy efficiency codes is a challenging prospect. Nonetheless, it remains important to measure these implicit costs and benefits for a practical and effective environmental as well as energy security policies. This study employs the Hedonic Pricing Method-HPD; using household data from the American Community Survey (ACS-2007) and supplementary data on state level energy efficiency code adoption and energy prices. Findings show that, the adoption of energy efficiency codes is associated with a decline in household energy expenditure by 5.2% and a positive market premium of rental price of houses of 4.7%, on average. And, the net implicit price of energy efficiency codes is found to be, on average $38.85 per month and $418.56 per year, in 2018 prices; additionally, this net implicit price is also found to vary significantly with energy type, household characteristics and other observed diverences.

Sharika Rakibullah
"The Persistence of Sex Preferences in the US"
In this paper 2008-2013 American Community Survey data is used to attempt a replication of Blau, et al. (2017). The 2017 paper concluded that son preference still exists as of 2013 within the native US population, although preferences have decreased since Dahl and Moretti (2008). The Blau paper found evidence that female first children increase the probability of single female household headship, but lower fertility. In this paper, I find results that support Blau, et al. (2017), in that the probability of single female household headship is still influenced by having a female firstborn but is diminishing over time. This paper also discusses the effects of sex preferences by income level, as well as the current impact of a female eldest child on the probability of single female household headship.

Rosalyn Hua
"Asian American Women: Did the Great Recession Cause Childness"
Abstract: After the Great Depression and its economic devastation, researchers noted a decline in birth rates. As such, over the past century, many studies seek to understand the causal effect of recessions on fertility. The recent Great Recession caused a global economic and societal impact, and as it took place in modern times, there is a considerable amount of data available for analysis. Historical empirical studies indicate that the Great Recession has a slight to negligible negative relationship with fertility rates, but the methodologies used to determine those results do not isolate the pure causal effect of the Great Recession. The aim of this paper is to replicate Comolli and Bernardi’s 2015 study which successfully isolates the causality estimate of the Great Recession on childlessness of white American women using the difference-in-difference approach combined with the pseudo-cohort approach across time periods, and then extend the same methodology to estimate the causal effect on Asian American women. The replication and extension findings suggest that the Great Recession has a slight positive causal effect on childlessness in both white and Asian American women.

Undergraduate Student Winners:

Anahito Biglari
"Antoine Augustine Cournot: The Inception of Mathematical Economics"
Opening Paragraph: Most famous for his oligopoly theory, Antoine Augustine Cournot, a 19th century French economist, is known by many to be the first mathematical economist in a strict sense of the word (Nicola 3). Today, Cournot is remembered as an economist in the UK and USA, but in France, he is widely known as a philosopher. In 1905, a movement was started re-evaluating his works and the gathered information came up in a philosophical journal rather than an economic journal (Nichol 194). Although he was mostly ignored during his time, numerous economists, such as Edgeworth, Marshall, Jevons, Fisher, and Schumpeter, praise his contributions to economics. Just because he was mostly intellectually ignored, it does not mean that he had an unprosperous life. He was a successful administrative official of the French public schooling system, and at some point, he was even a successor to Ampere, a French physicist (Nichol 194). His major work in economics was published in 1838, Recherches sur les principes mathématiques de la théorie des richesses (translated by Bacon to Researches on the Mathematical Principles of the Theory of Wealth). The main concentration of his work was to lay mathematical foundations to economics (what was then called political economics) and the analysis of partial market equilibrium, under the assumption that the parties involved are profit maximizing. He establishes the law of demand and goes onto determining equilibrium under the conditions of monopoly, duopoly, and finally perfect competition.

Amar Pal and Henry Pineda
"Why Institutions Matter: Analyzing the Relationship Between Economic Freedom and Standard of Living" 
Abstract: In this paper, we seek to analyze the link between economic freedom and standard of living. We run multiple linear regressions and use econometric techniques to provide an answer to our research question. Our findings illustrate that there does exist a positive correlation between the two variables. 

Abdemer Gonzalez
"Immigration and Its Impact on Earnings in America: An Analysis in the Construction Industry"
Intro: Immigration has been prevalent in the U.S. ever since its birth in the late 1700s. Recently, the debate on immigration has only escalated further and become more tense from both oppositions. The debate mainly centers on the strictness of immigration policies as some believe immigrants lower wages for natives and take jobs from them. Meanwhile, others believe that immigrants do not affect native workers as much and rather improve this nation economically with their presence. Currently, the government and its associated agencies have brought stricter immigration laws and policies while also cracking down more on immigrants in general. Proponents for stricter immigration approve of this as, formerly said, they believe the influx of immigration into this country hurts the native workers. They feel that the presence of immigrants in the workforce drives down the wages for native workers as immigrants would work for less. Additionally, they feel that their willingness to work a lower wage is a great factor in causing native worker to become unemployed. On the other hand, people against such strict immigration laws believe that immigrants are not entirely to blame for those occurrences. Such advocates discern that immigrants do jobs that other natives would not and with their lower wages, in effect, improve the living of others. No matter what, the tensions between these groups will only further intensify as they argue on what should be deemed proper for our country’s immigration policy. I plan on delving into this problem as I investigate the question of: Is there an impact from immigrant influx in America on construction worker’s earnings? For this, I will look over and compare the influx of immigrants and earnings of construction laborers over a ten-year period in ten different states with similar GDP and population but varying immigration levels. As of now, my hypothesis that the amount of immigrants incoming within a state will have little to no effect on the earnings for construction laborers from 2007 to 2016.

Spring 2018 Annual Best Paper Proposal Winners

Mikhail Arbuzov
Estimated Dynamic Equilibrium Model: Supply and Demand as a Sample Path of a Stochastic Process?”

Alexander P. San Filippo
"The Introduction of Private Prisons and Incarceration Rates"

Fall 2017 Semiannual Best Proposal Winners

Graduate Student Winners:

Allan Wheeler
”Equilibrium, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Calculation: Implications for Urban Economic Development”
Noe Vidales and Gregory Wong
“Public Policy and the Marital Decisions of the Indigenous Population of Mexico”

Undergraduate Student Winners:

Christina Sawyer
“How Would Seattle’s Minimum Wage Policy Impact San Jose’s Citizens with Barriers to Employment?”
Luca Pasquini
“Market Impacts of Cyber Attacks”
Eshan Jain
“What Makes a Non-Profit Organization More Profitable?”