Economics Capstone Projects
Students enrolled in Dr. Madhavi Venkatesan’s Spring 2021 Senior Seminar course were given the opportunity to design an individual capstone research project. All projects include the application of economics but with varying approaches. The outcomes of the research projects are highlighted below. The breadth of the topics chosen showcase the ubiquitous nature of economics as well as its plurality, highlighting that economics is not limited to quantitative methods but rather is the “business of life.”
Below, please find a link to each student’s video flashtalk, abstract, and bio. In the coming days full papers will be included. In the interim, they are available on request.
Abstract: Our generation has experienced an incredible growth of technology and media usage. Along with this, people are, to a degree, a product of what they consume. When people are equipped to handle and filter media to distinguish reality from propaganda, they are able to be entertained without being susceptible to the biases in media. This ability or skill of filtering is referenced as “media literacy”. Using a three-part survey that is further discussed in the paper, results reveal that people associate specific races with certain roles and characteristics. This project assesses how the degree of individual media literacy contributes to racial stereotypes, explores how certain races are more or less likely to be portrayed in certain ways within media and theorizes the economic impacts of media facilitated racial stereotyping.
David Adams is a 5th year student at Northeastern University majoring in Economics. He is a member of the Northeastern Varsity Track team, and his economic interests range from investment banking to economic sustainable and environmental justice. His immediate plans after college involve seeking a position that allows him to fulfill his interests, and stay involved with his passion for the world of track and field.
Abstract: Given the rapidly growing infrastructure of Blockchain – the disruptive technology behind cryptocurrencies – we should be aware of its effects on businesses and likely trade-offs. The supply chain has inherent flaws in today’s increasingly complex system; foreshadowed by an asymmetrical distribution of information amongst enterprise levels. Current processes are inefficient, and managers are wasting much of their efforts in working around them rather than working towards increasing profitability. Such disparity is dangerous and can result in devastating effects to the economy. Blockchain proposes the creation of a resilient process that advocates for sustainability initiatives, if managed properly. The two methodologies proposed in this paper focus on the consumer and government, respectively. Blockchain leads with its most interesting attribute, transparency, to eliminate asymmetry by providing holistic views of transactions and leaves the public with knowledge to make informed decisions on their own behalf. Proposed government policies look at current initiatives within the U.S., such as Biden’s clean energy plan and education gaps, to leverage the technology’s capability in promoting sustainability.
Jay Agaskar is a senior at Northeastern University studying Economics and Finance, with a Computer Science Minor. His interest is in technology, and his immediate plans are pursuing analytics and data science.
Abstract: On May 25th, 2020 46-year-old George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer by the name of Derek Chauvin. This led to not only months of protests throughout America, but this event transcended all borders with global outrage and worldwide protests. This paper aims to investigate the motivation of protesters, who were seemingly challenged in their actions by the Covid-19 pandemic. The study is based on a survey and assesses demographics of respondents, specifically focusing on their gender, race, and political affiliation. The results of the survey indicate that women, non-white individuals, and Democrats are more likely to have been significantly affected by the death of Floyd and were more apt to becoming politically active as a result.
Steve Bernard is a senior at Northeastern University pursuing a combined degree in Economics and Business Administration, with a dual concentration in Finance and Entrepreneurship. Bernard has previously spent time evaluating the impact of the death of Floyd along with racial injustices in America. He along with eight other students worked this past year with Dr. Venkatesan on a paper currently pending submission to the Contemporary Justice Review. As he finishes up his undergraduate degree, Bernard hopes that this paper will reach individuals who are currently uneducated on these topics and hopes to create awareness of systematic racism in American, police brutality, and ultimately help educate Americans in a meaningful way that will cause a stronger push to dismantle the racist institutions that still persist in our American society today.
Abstract: This paper demonstrates the ways in which the economic and social fabric of American society makes it more difficult for Black and Hispanic Americans to take advantage of tax breaks surrounding homeownership, college education, and retirement savings, which simultaneously are the primary drivers of wealth accumulation for most Americans. The findings indicate that barriers to wealth accumulation for Black and Hispanic Americans are deeply embedded in the U.S. tax code and perpetuate the growth of the racial wealth gap. Furthermore, government regulation provides the initial basis for this inequity and its effects compound over time. The discussion concludes with policy suggestions aimed at reducing current inequities, such as requiring the IRS to collect and publish tax policy statistics based on race, overhauling regressive tax policies, and investing these revenues in improving economic opportunity and reducing racial disparities
Emma Boughton (she/her) is a combined economics and business student, concentrating in accounting. She is also enrolled in the Master of Science in Accounting program at Northeastern and will complete her MSA degree in August of this year. Upon graduation she will start full-time in assurance at PwC in New York.
Abstract: Economic development in the past few decades has lifted millions of people in developing countries out of poverty. However, at the same time, this development has also added billions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. In order to avoid a climate disaster, it is crucial for developing countries to find a way to increase the public’s standard of living while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible. This paper examines the economic growth and carbon emissions of Bangladesh and Vietnam over the last 40 years. Consideration of current trends shows a positive correlation between increasing standard of living and carbon emissions. In addition, the paper explores options for governments to promote sustainable growth including implementation of more modern technology across all sectors, investment in family planning programs to decrease population growth, and investment in education and healthcare to create a healthy and high-skilled labor force.
Anh Bui is a fourth-year Economics student at Northeastern University with an interest in energy and economic development. His immediate plan is to graduate and work in the technology sector.
Abstract: This selective literature review highlights the motivation behind the prohibition and legalization of cannabis in the United States. It analyzes a small portion of the literature available on the subject, focusing on the propagandized prohibition and the economic costs of prohibition, while finally reviewing recent literature regarding the slow creep of state-by-state legalization. The conclusion is aligns with the use of prohibition as a tool of oppression focused specifically toward minority and impoverished communities. This review suggests that, while a state referendum option to legalize cannabis is being sought primarily to generate additional state revenue, the positive referenda results are indicative of changing national attitudes towards the drug. The discussion concludes with the conundrum of the basis of the illegal and legal status of cannabis and its disproportionate historical impact and recommendations for policy action
Daniel Chinn is a member of the 2021 graduating class with a B.S. in Economics. During his time at Northeastern University, he has been on the management team of the Economics Society and IDEA Venture Accelerator. Daniel has completed co-ops in legal finance, commercial banking, and private equity. He has recently interned as a venture capital associate at JourneyOne Ventures, a cannabis focused VC fund run by a fellow Husky alum.
Abstract: Since its inception, the film industry has been characterized by extreme volatility in terms of financial return. In recent decades, many of the largest producers in the film industry are highly incentivized to appeal specifically to the Chinese market of filmgoers as a means of maximizing profitability and minimizing risk- often at the expense of pandering to the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP); it is mandatory to receive governmental approval in order to release a film in the Chinese market. However, is simply accessing the Chinese market enough to guarantee profitability? What are the potential risks in promoting ideology which caters to this specific governmental body on a global scale? In analyzing the historical impact of film regarding the promotion of racial caricatures and stereotypes that heavily influenced the creation of financial and governmental institutions within the United States, there is an opportunity to speculate on the long-term externalities of promoting such media on the soft power of the CCP, especially on the global stage. This paper analyzes the recent Hollywood trend of producing films in order tap into the massive Chinese market, the economic incentives as to how this trend came to be, and the potential societal effects of this trend that may emerge over time, in context of Disney’s 2020 live-action release of Mulan.
Julia Gorti is a fifth-year Economics student at Northeastern University, minoring in Japanese. Her interests include analyzing and discussing the societal effects of all media- including traditional film, animated productions, and young adult literature. Currently seeking post-graduation employment in program management and translation services.
Abstract: This paper proposes a more accurate theoretical model to determine player worth – The True Player Value Model, taking into account factors alongside the simple salary cap number utilized by teams, such as endorsement dollars, attendance with and without a given player, merchandise revenue and team success among many more. This discussion analyzes the historic undervaluing of players within professional leagues in the context of advocacy power from Muhammad Ali to Michael Jordan and to Colin Kaepernick. The evaluation presented attempts to illustrate the muzzling of professional athletes’ social voices and how the mindset of players has changed over time despite being undervalued in similar ways. The paper concludes with a discussion of the True Player Value Model and its alignment to the negotiating interest of existing Player Associations or Unions fighting for pay increases and the right to use their own platforms how they see fit.
Thomas Herron is a fourth-year student at Northeastern University, majoring in both journalism and economics, with a minor in sports, media, and communication. His interests are in sports and sports media, social justice and the intersection of economics and sports. His immediate plans are to graduate in June 2021 and secure a role in the greater sports industry, whether that be in media or for related businesses.
Abstract: In this paper, a life cycle assessment of wild and farmed Atlantic salmon is conducted to identify the externalized costs of fisheries and aquacultures on the environment and human health. Wild salmon populations have declined due to human induced activities to promote growth and profitability. As a result of increasing demand and diminishing populations, wild salmon is being replaced by farm-raised salmon. Although wild salmon is considered to be healthier to consume than farmed salmon, technological advancements have allowed aquacultures to produce healthier and sustainable fish. Countries with stricter regulations can enforce sustainable practices for aquacultures to ensure that farmed salmon can still be consumed with the same risk tolerance as wild salmon. These regulations set standards to reduce the levels of PCB exposure, antibiotics in use, and other contaminants. Sustainable and health-conscious consumers can still buy farm-raised salmon without the premium of wild-caught with proper knowledge.
Luke Hong is a senior at Northeastern majoring in Finance and Economics. His interest is in financial data analytics and his immediate plans are graduating.
Abstract: To understand the instability of social structure surrounding gender equity, we need to examine the reality of it. There are inherent inconsistencies between social welfare in the United States, persistently making women the subordinate gender. To understand the “why,” we need to look at the fundamentals on which this is built on. Society must legitimize the goal of gender equity, but we are uncomfortable talking about it: periods, menstruation, and how women are penalized for it. This paper assesses the need for taxation and where it is applied in the attempt to understand why some states in the U.S. place a sales tax on feminine hygiene products. The history for these products is reviewed, income inequalities are elucidated, and examples of unequal policies are demonstrated. My paper aims to investigate the rationale for this and in doing so I hope to identify if there is gender bias present in taxation policy. The purpose is to inform individuals of the gender disparities and injustices that persist through regulatory discrimination.
Paulina Janik is a fourth-year student at Northeastern University majoring in economics. Her interest is in the discriminatory tendency in policies in the United States, specifically tax policy and gender and race discrimination within that. Her immediate plans are to finish her undergraduate degree and pursue graduate school.
Abstract: The effects of trade and globalization on industries are multifaceted as exposure to global markets results in an industry being affected in many different ways. This paper is a case study in a prominent export-dependent industry in a developing country, the coffee growing industry in Colombia. The findings of the paper highlight that by most metrics, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks of trade but there are certainly caveats and nuances to that assessment. The increase in global trade has led to the coffee industry in Colombia growing in size, producing and exporting more coffee than before. This had led to an increase in jobs in the field, as well as gains in wealth for landowners in the coffee growing region, who are mostly families with small landholdings. This has also led to coffee being more widely available and widely enjoyed across the globe. However, one necessary caveat to these gains is the fact that laborers in the industry often have low pay, seasonal work schedules, and poor living conditions. Colombia’s GDP has increased significantly over the past few decades, and the coffee industry was a major driver of that.
Stefanos Kiorpes is a fourth-year student at Northeastern majoring in Economics. He is from Watertown, MA and is a first-generation American.
Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to look at how innovation levels are impacted in our society under an environment with increasing amounts of open-source software. Traditional economic thought teaches that intellectual property protections increases innovation because it provides creators the security to profit from their inventions without fear of theft. However, open-source software allows for more opportunities for innovation while foregoing IP protections. After literature review, we have found the most significant determinants of innovation levels in an open-source environment. Innovation level can be written as a function of time spent on open-source projects, licensing restriction, repository activity, benefit of collaboration, and ratio of time spent on open to close source projects. At this point, we are only able to write a general function, lacking a more intricate mathematical structure. Some drawbacks contributing to such obstacles are lack of relevant data metrics, heavy focus on consumer-side behavior, and limitation to the technology sector. There is much potential to explore the concept of foregoing IP protections in other industries such as pharmaceutical and automobile as well.
Patton Lu is a fifth-year economics undergraduate student at Northeastern University, double majoring in economics and psychology. His interests include learning about the legal processes that facilitate innovation and new inventions in our society, especially in the technology and information sectors. Beginning in the fall 2021 semester, Patton will be a J.D. Candidate at Fordham University School of Law class of 2024.
Abstract: Our economic system, capitalism, plays a significant role in the current state of our climate. As GDP has been accepted as the mathematical measure of well-being and success of a country, the concept of sustainability has been ignored. This has caused the disciplines of economics to be distanced and overshadowed by the idea of individualism. Economics no longer seeks to provide an evaluation to meet socially optimal outcomes; it has molded into a profit-maximizing machine. Individualism becoming part of our social construction has left our planet to suffer. Society has been so far removed from the structure of our economic system that they are not fully aware of the effects their actions have on their future. The consumer-driven model leads to a constant cycle of overconsumption and production to meet the goal of maximizing profit. After years of this, our planet can no longer handle it. Our climate is reaching its breaking point because society has excepted ignoring the externalities of our decisions and system. Throughout the years of education, the teaching of economics has failed to incorporate sustainability. The majority of textbooks and classes do not mention the relationship between economics and sustainability, which leaves students with little room to evaluate their impact on the environment. In order to create a sustainable future, these systematic issues need to be addressed. The discussion in this paper highlights the role of consumers and producers. Advocated is that consumers need to begin to feel comfortable with not constantly having everything they want and driving demand for unnecessary goods. Simultaneously, producers need to adjust their business models to focus less on short-term financial gains and focus on a sustainable and efficient future
Kristi McNary is a 4th year student at Northeastern majoring in Economics. Her interest is in the relationship between economics and climate change and his/her immediate plans are graduate this spring and pursue a career in sustainability.
Abstract: While there have been many examples of speculation throughout history, the advent of social media has laid the way for a novel type of retail speculation within the financial markets. This paper will be exploring the relationship between the subreddit r/wallstreetbets, the popular brokerage service RobhinHood and speculation. We will investigate the psychological mechanisms that underlie the r/wallstreetbets investing community, the investment strategies they utilize, and their impact on the broader financial system. We find members of the subreddit routinely engage in high-risk investment strategies akin to gambling, due in part to a combination of psychological pressure exerted through r/wallstreetbets, and because of the business practices of brokers like RobinHood. To assist in this research, we will perform a regression to determine the correlation between the daily popularity of three tickers on r/wallstreetbets: AMC, AMD and GME, and the daily idiosyncratic risk undertaken by investors of the given security, for the period between 5/8/2020 and 12/30/2020. Our results find that our regression models can account for 26%, 6% and 49% of variance in idiosyncratic risk, respectively. Finally, we will discuss shortcomings within the regulatory framework, and suggest future changes to regulation including increased regulatory broker oversight and an extension of PDT laws.
Maximillian Paul is a fourth-year finance and economics student at Northeastern University. Max has a keen interest in the mechanisms underlying our financial markets and wants to pursue a career in finance.
Abstract: Women pay an extra amount as consumers for goods and services that are equal or nearly identical to comparable men’s products. This form of exploitation is commonly referred to as ‘The Pink Tax’. Due to marketing gimmicks that put gender labels on certain products and services, such as the “BIC for Her Pens”, a “tax” is imposed on women, in the form of a higher cost, which, in essence, they are forced to pay to have a gendered version of a product. Through an evaluation of the pink tax, the discussion in this paper will focus on the theme of gender representation in the labour force as a means of fostering existing gender expectations. Economic gender discrimination persists in a society due to the entrenched acceptance of cultural norms related to gender expectations. The media promotes cultural standards and markets them directly to women. The colour pink itself has been stereotyped and has been made a symbol of femininity by the advertising corporations. To dissect the cause of the pink tax throughout history, process tracing will be used. Specific case studies will represent the vast effects of this form of gender-based price discrimination not only on the basic feminine hygiene products and pink-coloured products but on the most general goods such as clothing items, children’s toys, and health care products. This research will aim to provide awareness of an implicit tax related to purchasing female-gendered products.
Tejasvee Satwani is a fourth-year student at Northeastern majoring in combined economics & mathematics and minoring in film production. His interest is in labor economics as well as poverty alleviation. After graduation, he aspires to work for a thinktank, or an NGO dedicated to economic research.
Abstract: This paper addresses risk perception and the propensity of individuals aged 18 to 25 to take on risk. Following a review of the literature related to selected economic shocks such as the Great Depression and the Great Recession, the discussion addresses how significant economic externalities can impact decision-making. In order to assess contemporary impacts, a survey was created to assess risk perception using a convenience sample of individuals aged 18 to 25. Given that some portion of the participants’ lives may have been impacted by the Great Recession, the survey results were compared against prior studies to determine the degree of risk aversion and its relationship to having lived through an economic shock. Findings suggest that the current generation of people aged 18 to 25 may have a lower propensity to take risk much aligned to the generation with a relationship to the Great Depression. The results are only preliminary, but the evaluation can be replicated across a larger sample to provide greater insight.
Siddharth Singh is a fourth year studying Computer Science and Economics at Northeastern University. He has worked at HarbourVest Partners as a Business Intelligence Developer and at Arbella Insurance as a Research & Data Analyst. His immediate plans are to complete his degree and graduate in August 2021 after which he hopes to be working with data in the technology or financial sector.
Abstract: This paper examines the history of selected nuclear accidents and frames the risks inherent in atomic energy production within the greater context of the costs of fossil fuel consumption. The analysis presents the efficiencies of nuclear power when compared to other forms of electricity generation, as well as the relatively low mortality rates and environmental impacts. In comparing the world’s worst polluters, I find that the United States is far behind other countries which prioritize nuclear programs as part of sustainable development and argue we must either embrace nuclear energy and the risks that come with it, or else work to greatly reduce our dependence on energy to avoid catastrophic outcomes for the environment we have proved unwilling or unable to mitigate.
John Sun is a senior economics and accounting major from Frederick, Maryland. After graduating in 2022, he plans to obtain a CPA license and pursue graduate studies in economics.
Abstract: This paper seeks to analyze Bitcoin pricing using regression models and attempt to identify the basis for appreciation in cryptocurrency. The discussion includes reviewing the past research on the Bitcoin pricing models, Bitcoin mechanisms, and potential market forces underlying them. Next, an evaluation of Bitcoin movements is provided based on data collected and representing the past five years. The statistically significant findings suggest that Bitcoin might have an intrinsic value based on its design and computing power from within its network, as well as a market premium from positive market sentiment. A further assessment provides a quick observation of the impact of 26 events that potentially created a price shock. In concluding, the paper discusses the limitations of Bitcoin, including the high pollution and e-waste problem resulted from the proof of work (PoW) mechanism, scalability problem from small block size cap, and the lack of regulation.
Zhiping Wang is a fourth-year student at Northeastern majoring in Economics and Business. His interest is in financial analysis and investments. His immediate plans are finding a financial analyst job this fall and preparing for graduate school within 2-3 years.