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Vilfredo Pareto Prize for Best Economics Thesis shared by two researchers

Posted on 04 June 2020

Christian Meyer and Alessandro Ferrari share the 2020 Vilfredo Pareto Prize for the Best Thesis in Economics, awarded each year by the Economics Department.

The outstanding researchers were both praised for making novel contributions to different fields of the discipline.

Ferrari-Alessandro Alessandro Ferrari Meyer-Christian Christian Meyer


Christian Meyer's dissertation is entitled Essays in behavioral economics and development. One of the chapters, 'A Plan for a Better Life? Job Search, Savings, and Self-Control in Ethiopia's Low-Skill Labor Market' delves into the attitudes towards job-searching and savings among workers in Ethiopian garment-producing firms. The jury called the job market paper 'at the frontier of work that is currently done by leaders in the field of development economics'.

Inspired by his own experience on the field, Meyer found that workers commonly saw these jobs as a 'stepping stone' to a better future, enabling the workers to finance continued job search or start new businesses. The driving research question explored 'to what extent behavioral biases in these temporal trade-offs undermine the ability of these workers to achieve their goals?'

In order to answer this question, Meyer collected a 'very rich and novel' dataset that the jury called 'an impressive achievement for such a junior researcher'. The project involved complex fieldwork in Ethiopia. The resulting analysis is the first empirical evidence on the relationship between experimentally-elicited present bias and job search behavior.

Upon the announcement of the award, Meyer said he was honoured to receive the prize. He said: 'This is a great motivation as I embark on the next step of my academic career. I am grateful for the support from my two supervisors and from my friends and colleagues at the EUI.'

A testament to the importance of this work, the paper was chosen by the World Bank Development Impact Blog as one of the most interesting job market papers in the field in 2019.

The Vilfredo Pareto Prize was also awarded to Ph.D. economics graduate Alessandro Ferrari. Ferrari’s dissertation Essays in International Macroeconomics explores topics such as global value chains, low competition traps and theories of fiscal and monetary union.

The jury praised Ferrari's work for using different literatures to address relevant international macroeconomic issues from both theoretical and empirical perspectives.

In particular, judges applauded how Ferrari's first chapter emphasized the role of firms' position within Global Value Chains and better explained international real business cycles, while the second chapter was commended for its study of the outcomes of the interaction of oligopolistic competition and capital accumulation. Finally, the third chapter's study of unexplored trade-offs and complementarities between Fiscal and Currency Unions also drew praise.

Ferrari says he was ‘very honoured to have been selected for the Vilfredo Pareto Prize. It is a wonderful way of finishing my time at the EUI,’ and added ‘I share the honour with my coauthors and my supervisors who, without fail, have been incredible throughout these years’.

Established in 2015 by the Department of Economics, the prize honours Vilfredo Pareto, the noted Italian sociologist, economics, political scientist and philosopher. Widely considered a trailblazer in the field of modern scientific research in economics, Pareto lived and worked in Florence and Fiesole between 1882 and 1892.

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