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Arjun Ramani, BA ’21, MS ’22

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This story is part of the Why Econ? series. Our affiliated students and faculty share why econ matters to them, their work, and our world.

Why Econ? Arjun Ramani, BA ’21, MS ’22

In 2005, when Shaquille O’Neal was in the NBA limelight, a young Arjun Ramani would bring in box scores for his first-grade show-and-tell to demonstrate how another Miami Heat player, up-and-comer Dwyane Wade, was also worthy of fandom.

Wade went on to garner the finals MVP award that season, and finished his career with three NBA championships and 13 All-Star appearances. Meanwhile, Ramani’s passion for statistical evidence grew.

The tenacity behind his serial sports stats show-and-tell sessions would similarly come in handy later during competitive debates in high school and for the Stanford debate team.

“It seemed that everything being debated in society required objective evidence to get beyond the noise of opinions where people talked past each other,” Ramani says.

Fast forward through the years — past a macroeconomics course at a summer camp before high school; past a 9th grade project on economist Milton Friedman; past two published computational modeling papers; and past a whirl of internships from the Council of Economic Advisers in Washington, D.C., to a trading desk in New York City — and it’s clear how Ramani’s appetite for data analysis has grown.

As an undergrad, Ramani played on Stanford’s club tennis team — never wavering from his love of sports — and was the data journalism editor at The Stanford Daily. He also co-founded the Stanford Open Data Project to streamline access to university-related data. And after taking a development economics course, he worked a summer in Ghana for a Stanford-based initiative to grow a mobile payment system.

Ramani examined the effects of COVID-19 on migration patterns and real estate for his honors thesis and co-wrote a SIEPR policy brief on the topic. He also worked as a SIEPR research assistant and helped develop the curriculum of a new Stanford course on the economics of AI.

Will it be game, set, match for econ?

Ramani, who studied math and computer science before declaring economics his junior year, is getting a master’s in CS and eyeing a PhD in economics.

“When I look out into the world and see all these controversial issues, I want to get to the bottom of them and figure out what's actually going on,” he says. “This is where economics shines.”

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