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LUSEM students among the top ten in the “World Championships of Econometrics”

Published: 2018-04-20

Students from Lund University School of Economics and Management placed themselves among the best ten in the “World Championships of Econometrics” – for the third year in a row. This year’s case proved both challenging and inspiring as the goal was to analyse data on the economics of happiness.

Lena, Hampus, Linn and Yana. Photo: Louise Larsson

It was the School’s third time to compete in the Econometric Game in Amsterdam. The Swedish team met with other teams from all over the world, from Colombia and Canada, to South Africa, Russia and Australia.

“It really was a lot of fun, and a nice way of meeting people with the same interests. It’s like a pool of future colleagues. You get to network, and be productive at the same time,” says team leader Yana Petrova, PhD student in Economics.

Together with fellow PhD student Hampus Poppius, and master students Linn Mattisson and Lena Müller, she recently arrived back in Lund from three intensive days in Amsterdam.

“You are asking ‘why am I here?’ because the stress levels are so high. But in the end, it was nice, and I could see myself doing it again. It is my third time, so I guess I’m a little bit hooked on the adrenaline,” says Yana Petrova.

Always aims for top three

In all, the students seem really pleased with the experience, participating in what is often called ”The World championships of Econometrics”.

“This is all organized by students, and the event itself was so impressive. It was the 19th competition, with 30 teams from 18 countries,” says Linn Mattisson.

The top three was University Carlos III Madrid, Harvard University and Aarhus University.

“It is always a hope for us to place ourselves and the School among the best three. It is where we aim. But the range of topics is almost unlimited, so it is difficult to prepare. When you haven’t seen the data before, and you’re supposed to produce something in eight hours … There is that huge factor of uncertainty,” says Yana.

“And the other teams are really good. But you never know. It is not impossible that Lund places among the top three next year,” says Hampus.

Unemployment’s effect on happiness

This year’s case was ”the Economics of Happiness”, a topic that was new to all members of the team.

“The data wasn’t the dream data set. You had to think a lot about what to do with it, and how to use it. The question about unemployment and happiness in relation to that, was however very interesting,” says Hampus Poppius.

Yana summarizes the conclusions:

“For the first case we found that the aggregated effect of unemployment is way larger than if you would sum your individual effect. You do have a multiplicate effect that is large.

The team was picked among the ten best, and got to work on a second case.

“We were supposed to understand why and how unemployment effects the happiness of others. People had very different solutions. The teams that reached top three had imported data from an external source, or in other ways done something extra and impressive,” says Hampus Poppius.

“From an econometric point of view, it is always interesting to see how much the results can differ depending on your strategy, on what you chose to include or not,” adds Yana.

Learned to work as a team

The four team members had some practice sessions before leaving for Amsterdam. Other than that, they had no prior experience working together. But the teamwork turned out fine:

“At one point, I was coding something that I didn’t know where or how to use, but then I sent it to the next person, who in turn did something and gave it to Yana and so on. In the end, it all made sense,” says Lena Müller.

They all agree participating in the Game was a useful experience, and something they can learn from.

“You really have to put in an effort to work together, when you face such a demanding task. We also did a lot of stuff we hadn’t seen before that we had to learn very quickly,” says Hampus.

This photo is from the end of our working period on the second day. We had submitted the first case, that is why we look so happy – and tired.” Photo: Private