The Economics Department

2012 Senior Thesis Prize Awarded

Wed, August 1, 2012
2012 Senior Thesis Prize Awarded

The 2012 Senior Thesis Prize in Economics, which recognizesthe most outstanding undergraduate honors thesisin economics, was awarded to Sharanya Rajan for her honors thesis, “Missing Women in Education - Does the Existence of Son Preference Among Asian Immigrants Influence Parents' Education Decisions?”  Her thesis examines recent studies that show the existence of son preference at higher birth parities among Indian, Chinese and Korean immigrants to the United States and Canada.  In the source countries, according to these studies, son preference leads to differential access to education.  Sharanya considers the hypothesis of whether similar effects exist in the United States and Canada.

The award’s selection committee, including Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies Valerie Bencivenga, was impressed with Sharanya’s careful approach and sophisticated methodology in answering a complex question.  In particular, they like the way she balanced the theoretical and empirical strategies in her thesis.  According to Bencivenga, “Sharanya has an unusually mature grasp of the importance of approaching policy questions armed with the deepest possible understanding of economics and quantitative methods, and she is genuinely interested in economics because it helps us understand the world, and not only as a way to arrive at or justify policies.”

In speaking about the experience of writing her thesis, Sharanya says, “The senior thesis gave me a chance to combine skills learned in several different classes while proving to be one of my biggest challenges in college.  This made it a unique experience, whose success was made possible by my supervising professor (Professor Trejo) and my friends in the class. Aside from seeing the development of an idea, my favorite aspect was the variety of ideas presented by other students at the end of the year.  The year-long process was an interesting experience that I enjoyed very much.”  Sharanya is currently working at an anti-trust firm, delving into matters quite different from her research topic, which she says she also finds very interesting.

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