Matthew Olckers Economist by day; graffiti nerd by night.

Some things never change

At the end of spring this year I had the privilege of attending an international conference at my university, the Paris School of Economics. The organizers used their connections (and the diaspora of French economists) to put together a diverse and accomplished panel of professors. I felt privileged because there is little chance that this quality of conference would be held in my home country, South Africa.

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Financial education: searching for key ingredients

People often make mistakes when managing their finances, and choosing investments. Recently, economists have focussed on how financial education may help to improve decision making. A range of different financial education interventions have been tried, and tested. Still, there is no perfect recipe. The perfect recipe may remain elusive, but, perhaps, we could identify the key ingredients. This blog post searches through recent literature reviews to find the key ingredients.

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Tips for applying to the PSE

I am teaching assistant for an M1 microeconomics course at Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne. My students are now in the same position I was two years ago – faced with the prospect of applying to M2 programs. One avenue is the Paris School of Economics, which offers the APE, and PPD programs. I completed ETE, which has since been swallowed up by APE. A few of my students have asked for advice on applying to the PSE, so I decided to collect my tips into a blog post. These views are my own, and are not endorsed by the PSE.

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'Mobile-izing Saving with Automatic Contributions' Blumenstock, Callen & Ghani (2017)

Saving is tough. No matter how hard you try, there always seems to be nothing leftover at the end of the month. You need to trick yourself by hiding money away before it hits your bank account. Saving needs to be automatic, but which incentives are needed to start automatic contributions in the first place, and which mechanisms explain sustained monthly saving? Joshua Blumenstock, Michael Callen, and Tarek Ghani use a comprehensive field experiment to answer these questions. Their analysis highlights the power of defaults.

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'Decision making with naive advice' Schotter (2003)

After summarizing a recent paper on chatting in matching mechanisms, I decided to dig deeper into Andrew Schotter’s research. ‘Decision making with naive advice’ (2003 AER) caught my eye. In light of all the behavioral economics books I have been reading, my hunch was that taking advice from friends would cause actions to diverge from the predictions of theory with rational agents (Econs as Richard Thaler calls them). Turns out that advice does the opposite. It helps people to act rationally.

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