Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

Why Econ?

Main content start

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?

  • 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.
  • 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.”
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Heidi Williams started thinking like an economist as an undergraduate student. But it wasn’t an econ course that inspired her. It was a discussion in biology class about the developing world’s struggle with malaria.
  • 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’s eyes light up when she talks about currency swaps and financial instruments.
  • Valerie Scimeca’s first lesson about an economy came in the third grade.
  • Nina Buchmann’s interest in global economic inequality and its relationship to gender took root early.
  • A lot in life ties to family.
  • 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.