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Why Econ?

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Economics seeks to understand choices and their consequences. Why save rather than spend? Why put certain products on sale and charge top dollar for another? Why purchase instead of rent? Researchers and students at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) choose to examine the world and make an impact through the prism of economics. In this ongoing series, we’ve asked them one question: Why econ?

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  • Annamaria Lusardi, Senior Fellow

    When Annamaria Lusardi greets students on the first day of her class on personal finance, she sets the record straight: She isn’t teaching them just how to save or invest.
  • Emma Hou, '24

    Emma Hou stumbled onto economics by chance. As a high school junior visiting her brother at Stanford, she dropped into an introductory economics course. That first step led to a much longer journey.
  • Kwabena Donkor, Faculty Fellow

    For Kwabena Donkor, driving a New York City taxi while studying economics in college was grueling. He’d wake up before 3 a.m. on Sundays to stand in line to lease a cab, then work a 24-hour shift straight.
  • Olivia Martin, PhD and JD student

    On the first day of class for an economics seminar on measuring government performance through data, a presentation slide described the course using the plural, “governments.”
  • 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.
  • Marshall Burke, Senior Fellow

    It takes a particular kind of economist to boast expertise “in doing nothing” — and to land on late-night TV because of it.
  • Levi Boxell, PhD '22

    Levi Boxell grew up wanting to be an engineer or a computer scientist. But his career path took a turn toward economics during his senior year in high school when perspectives of poverty and the role of economics research began to swirl together.
  • David Chan, Senior Fellow

    Being a doctor and caring for patients, one-by-one, is a rewarding career. But what if your profession can improve the lives of many people, all at once?
  • Bessie Zhang, '23

    Bessie Zhang’s eyes light up when she talks about currency swaps and financial instruments.
  • Valerie Scimeca, '20

    Valerie Scimeca’s first lesson about an economy came in the third grade.
  • Nina Buchmann, PhD '24

    Nina Buchmann’s interest in global economic inequality and its relationship to gender took root early.
  • Petra Persson, Faculty Fellow

    A lot in life ties to family.
  • Aava Farhadi '23

    When Aava Farhadi took AP microeconomics in high school, it was, admittedly, not love at first sight. At the time, her sights were stuck on pre-med.