Senior's thesis takes top prize at economics competition

Duhn's paper tops 40+ competitors

Kiley Duhn
Kiley Duhn Photo: Provided

Duhn's paper tops 40+ competitors

Economics covers a vast array of ideas and observations, but unless there’s data, it’s hard to tell a story about it. That was the task Kiley Duhn faced when she started looking for a topic for her senior thesis. “We went through a million topics, and one of the big challenges in Econ, when you have an interesting question, is finding data that goes along with it,” she explained. “It was a big process.”

Duhn said she knew that she wanted to take on something historical because she found the idea personally interesting. “I wanted to do something big and cool, and something not a lot of other students were doing.”

She eventually found a database of economic data related to the effects of natural disasters, which piqued her interest. “I thought it would be fun and challenging, that it had a lot of things that could be built out of it,” she pointed out. “The obvious thing to look at was gross domestic product, and then I thought investment was an interesting extension from there.”

Her thesis, “Here Comes the Flood: The Effect of Natural Disasters on Economic Outcomes,” was accepted at the Undergraduate Economics Paper Contest at Bowling Green State University last weekend. Duhn was one of 14 asked to present at the event, out of more than 40 submissions.

“I was last to present, so it was kind of funny to see everyone go before me. Two of my good friends went right before me and did really, really well, so the bar was really high,” Duhn said. “It’s funny to think that I’ve been working for the past 11 months, and you know so much about it – and then you get 20 minutes to talk about it.”

Duhn’s thesis went on to win the best paper award of the competition. “I was hopeful, but it’s always a surprise. It’s nice to be recognized for something that I’ve been working on for forever.”