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Undergraduate Research in Economics

Student Research in Economics

Click to watch Rebecca Thornquist '14 discuss her research project.


Pomona is a community of daring minds. It is a place for students who are venturesome by choice, who have talent, passion, and independence of spirit, and who are prepared to dream big and work hard in order to make a difference in the world.

One way that Pomona College provides opportunities for students to excel is through research opportunities. Conducting research as an undergraduate not only gives students an advantage when applying for fellowships or graduate school; it also gives them a chance to tackle real-world problems and to find out what it’s like to be treated as colleagues by their professors, many of whom are the leading experts in their fields.

Analyzing Education Trends in Pakistan

Joshua Rosenberg (2013); Mentor(s): Tahir Andrabi

Abstract: My project used the newest rounds of household and school-level data from the “Learning and Educational Achievement in Pakistan Schools” (LEAPS) project to analyze various aspects of education in Pakistan. One part of my project involved using STATA and regression analysis to analyze the trends and determinants of pre-school enrollment over time. Some have theorized that pre-school enrollment in Pakistan is increasing because private schools have been able to provide pre-school education cheaply while remaining profitable. However, I found that pre-school enrollment, as a percentage of total enrollment, has not increased in the last 5 years and that private schools have not offered proportionally more pre-school services than public schools. I also found that younger children were more likely to enroll in private schools. To determine causes of enrollment, I constructed variables for parents’ education level, parents’ time use, household wealth, and household demographics, but my regression analysis was inconclusive.
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP

Recession Blues: Do Economic Conditions Affect Music Preferences?

Samuel Antill (2013); Mentor(s): Eleanor Brown

Abstract: In this work, I examine the relationship between economic conditions and the market for popular music. While some forms of entertainment, such as movies, immerse the consumer in a prolonged, multisensory experience that offers an escape from daily life, popular music is an expressive art form that is more likely to be chosen based on the listener's mood . I hypothesize that the relative popularity of sad songs increases during economic downturns. To test this, I use the One Million Song dataset to obtain characteristics of a large sample of songs published between 1922 and 2010. Using mode as a proxy for the mood of the song, a song is classified as sad if it is minor and happy if major. I test whether changes in the mood of popular music can be explained by recessions or general economic conditions. Preliminary results suggest that economic downturns have a significant positive correlation with the proportion of contemporary songs that are sad. In addition to a cyclical pattern in the demand for sad songs, my results confirm a recent study’s finding that popular music is getting sadder over time.
Funding Provided by: Paul K. Richter and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Memorial Funds