Topics for master theses

Topics for master theses

The Department of Economics would like to present the following ideas for topics to write about:

Research question: A COST-benefit analysis of disinfection measures in norwegian hospitals

Background: Every year around 4 % of patients admitted to Norwegian hospitals are affected by a hospital infection during their stay.  Hospital infections give rise to complications, to pain and discomfort for the patient, to readmissions, to lengthened hospital stays and sickness leave, to longer waiting lists for treatment.  This project would map the cost of measures to increase hospital hygiene and reduce infections and to weigh these against the benefits of such infection reduction.

Key references: Graves (2004) Economics and preventing hospital-acquired infection. Emerging Infectious Diseases 10:561-566. Graves et al. (2007) Effect of Healthcare‐Acquired Infection on Length of Hospital Stay and Cost, Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology 28: 280-292.

Data: Data from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Folkehelseinstituttet), the Directorate for Health (Helsedirektoratet), the regional health care provider Helse-Vest, the university hospital Haukeland Sykehus.

Suitable for profiles:  ECN, ECO

Supervisors: Karl-Rolf Pedersen and Fred Schroyen

 

research question: THE EFFECTS OF GLOBALIZATION ON SMALL AND MEDIUM SIZED FIRMS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. DOES MANAGEMENT MATTER?

Background: To what extent does globalization affect firm-level outcomes in developing countries? Are better managed firms affected differently compared to poorly managed firms? There is a number of possibilities in defining the term "globalization" and hence many possible sources of data and measures. Examples include mobile phone outreach, the entry of a foreign chain to the local market (e.g. Walmart), or new trade agreements. A more nuanced question would be to investigate the existence and sources of heterogeneity of these impacts, such as by management practices, which have not been looked at substantially before in a cross-country framework due to lack of data.

Key references:
Atkin, David, Benjamin Faber, and Marco Gonzalez-Navarro (forthcoming) "Retail Globalization and Household Welfare: Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Political Economy

Asiedu and Freeman (2007). "The Effect of Globalization on the Performance of Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises in the United States: Does Owners' Race/Ethnicity Matter?" American Economic Review, 97(2): 368-372.

Data: Data on firms performance, management, and the business environment. A good source is the World Bank's Enterprise Surveys which covers over 100 countries and is open-access. Another interesting data source that can potentially be used to measure management is http://worldmanagementsurvey.org/. Other data include statistics from international organizations such as the OECD, IMF; or from country-specific surveys such as the census.

Suitable for profiles: ECO, ECN, BUS, STR

Supervisor: Po Yin Wong

 

Research question: What are the determinants of changes in global disaster patterns?

Background: Extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, are becoming more frequent over time (The Economist, August 2017). Over 90% of lives lost, however, are in developing countries. What can explain the spatial distribution of natural disaster damages patterns globally? This research will provide one of the first panel analysis of extreme weather events, contributing to the existing literature, which mostly conducts within-country analysis, focusing on a single disaster event. Do changes in these frequency and damages patterns correlate systematically with economic factors, such as resource extraction activities, percentage of agriculture in GDP, as well as institutional quality and development? Can causal claims be made, for example, by using border regression discontinuity designs?

Key references: Strömberg, David (2007). "Natural Disasters, Economic Development, and Humanitarian Aid," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21(3): 199-222.

Data: Data on natural disasters from EM-DAT (The international disasters database) and UNISDR (United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction). Data on damages and economic outcomes from various sources, such as country reports, OECD, IMF, World Bank.

Suitable for profiles:  ECO, ECN, ENE

Supervisor: Po Yin Wong

 

research question: eCONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND STUNTING AMONG CHILDREn

Background: Stunting levels among young children remain alarmingly high in several countries. Medical research has also emphasized important gender gaps in stunting that remain unexplained. The objectives of the thesis are to update our general knowledge of stunting rates and the gender gaps, and to explore how stunting levels have evolved with economic development and what mechanisms could explain the gender gap.

Key references: Henry Wamani, Anne Nordrehaug Åstrøm, Stefan Peterson, James K Tumwine and Thorkild Tylleskär, “Boys are more stunted than girls in Sub-Saharan Africa: a meta-analysis of 16 demographic and health surveys”, BMC Pediatrics2007, 7:17.

Data: DHS surveys

Suitable for probiles: ECN

Supervisor: Vincent Somville

 

research question: Goggles on Google

Background: A strand of research has identified that even small cues of being observed (such as a picture of eyes) can affect anything from criminal behavior to charitable giving. Many of the studies, however, suffer from poor research designs and small sample sizes. In addition, there are also studies reporting null-findings, which means that the overall support still is inconclusive. The idea of this proposal is to use Google trends data to see if specific stigmatized search terms are less prevalent during days when Google’s logo is altered in a way such that it includes a pair of eyes (for an example, follow this link: https://www.google.com/doodles/kathe-kollwitzs-150th-birthday). The thesis will introduce the students to an interesting field of research, allow them to learn about and master Google trends data, as well as applying different econometric methods.

 Key references: Ekström (2012), Do Watching Eyes Affect Charitable Giving: Evidence from a Field Experiment, Experimental Economics

Suitable for profiles: ECN, ECO, INB, MARKETING

Supervisor: Mathias Ekström

 

research question: THE PEAK-end-rule and domestic violence

Background:The peak-end-rule says that the most memorable parts of an experience is the peak (i.e the most enjoyable period) and the end. Daniel Kahneman and co-authors have for example shown that you can make patients better off by simply extending a painful medical treatment with a more joyful period at the end. The idea of this thesis proposal is to test the peak-end theory in a relevant, high-stake, real-world environment. In particular, the aim is to combine data from e.g. the Premier League in England  with regional data on domestic violence and other offensive behavior, and test whether football fans are more upset, and therefore make more criminal acts, when their team lost because of a goal occurring in the final minutes of the game as opposed to the same nominal loss, but were the score was determined earlier in the game. The thesis will also include a replication of the paper by Card and Dahl (2011) on prospect theory and violence

Key reference:  Card and Dahl (2011), Family Violence and Football: The Effect of Unexpected Emotional Cues on Violent Behavior, Quarterly Journal of Economics

Suitable for profiles: ECN, ECO

Supervisor: Mathias Ekström

 

research question: EXAMINING THE REPRESENTATIVENESS OF BIG DATA USING r

Background: We hear that business and government are in an era of big data, and "data science" is viewed as a "great" asset on one's resumé. However, statistics presupposes that in using data, we wish to reach generalisable conclusions (not "lies, damned lies and statistics"). If the underlying data systematically miss salient features of the subject of interest, how useful are our conclusions? It will be necessary first to choose a suitable case (the supervisor's best area is in spatial data), and read up on possible methods for grasping representativeness. Next, coding (prefarably in R) will be involved to attempt to capture the essence of the chosen research question in a reproducible way. This research question is necessarily open and exploratory, so a good deal of the work involved concerns the destillation of feasible research questions.

Key references: Forthcoming special issue of Statistics and Probability Letters

Data: Big or relevant

Suitable for profiles: ENE, BUS, INT, ECO, FIE

Supervisor: Roger Bivand

 

RESEARCH QUESTION: LAND USE, PARKING AND POST INTERNAL COMBUSTION SETTLEMENT PATTERNS

Background: Up to 25% of urban area is used for parking motor vehicles, mostly private cars used for commuting. The cost of parking is most often not priced into the transport decisions of users, but affects land rents and real estate prices. Replacing internal combustion cars by environmentally neutral cars does not address this resource allocation question: could the space taken by parking be better used for other purposes? This research question is necessarily open and exploratory, so a good deal of the work involved concerns the destillation of feasible research questions.

Key references: The Economist, April 8, 2017 briefing on "Parkageddon"

Data: Public, various

Suitable for profiles: ENE, BUS, INT, ECO

Supervisor: Roger Bivand

 

Research question: Designing regional policy under changing future valuations of access and skills

Background: Public regional policy over the last thirty years has concentrated on avoiding earlier direct support for businesses, rather turning to infrastructure investment and human capital. Such policies have been based on assumptions about continuing trends in the demand for transport and the modal split of types of transport, as well as the returns to increases in human capital (education, traing, skills). Both changes in environmental constraints, in technology, and in revealed preferences suggest that some or many of these "bets" about the future may have been misplaced. This research question is necessarily open and exploratory, so a good deal of the work involved concerns the destillation of feasible research questions.

Key references: Policy documents

Data: Eurostat, SSB

Suitable for profiles: ENE, BUS, INT, ECO

Supervisor: Roger Bivand

 

Research question: What drives consumers to change electricity provider?

Background: In markets characterized by subscription services, such as electricity, banking and telecommunications, we often find that consumers change providers or plans to a very low extent despite considerable price differences between seemingly similar (or even homogenous) products. There are many potential explanations for this phenomenon, e.g., lack of information, costs of switching, and strong preferences for particular providers. Understanding the sources of passive consumer behavior is important for both regulation, business planning, government policy and market design. We find clear signs of consumer passivity also in the Norwegian electricity retail market, and data sources available to this supervisor can allow a talented student to shed light on some of the potential channels.

Key references: von der Fehr and Hansen (2010): "Electricity Retailing in Norway", The Energy Journal 31: 25-45 (Basic reference); Hortacsu et al (2015): "Power to Choose? An Analysis of Consumer Inertia in the Residential Electricity Market", NBER Working Paper No. 20988 (Advanced reference)

Data: Monthly data on number of subscriptions and sales (kWh) for the largest retailers within local areas will be provided by the supervisor, as well as weekly contract prices and monthly visitor statistics for the contract comparison website of the Competition Authority. Wholesale electricity prices and other useful market statistics can be gathered from Nordpool.

Suitable for profiles: ECO, ECN, ENE, BUS, FIE, INB

Supervisor: Morten Sæthre

 

Research question: How effective are the Norwegian incentive schemes for electric vehicles?

Background: Several countries, including U.S.A., Canada and Norway, have introduced incentives to encourage the sale of electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles. There is a debate over the effectiveness of these policies in achieving the desired policy goals, such as reductions in CO2 emissions. The Norwegian incentive scheme is notable for high subsidies as well as other extensive benefits, including exemption from the registration tax, free toll roads, free parking, and programs for building charging stations. More detailed knowledge about the effects of specific parts of the incentive scheme would be helpful, both to inform possible improvements of the incentive schemes, but also for planning purposes in businesses and local governments. There are several open questions regarding the effect of the rich incentive scheme. One question regards how much the different policies contribute to increasing electric vehicle sales. A related question is whether they have differential impact on which modes of transportation consumers substitute away from, e.g., whether consumers substitute away from regular cars, public transport and biking, both at the intensive and the extensive margin. A master thesis on this topic could focus on one or several specific policies and subquestions.

Key references: Fearnley et al (2015): "E-vehicle policies and incentives - assessment and recommendations", TØI report 1421/2015; Chandra et al (2010): "Green drivers or free riders? An analysis of tax rebates for hybrids vehicles", Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 60: 78-93; Holtsmark (2012): "Elbilpolitikken - virker den etter hensikten?", Samfunnsøkonomen 5: 4-11

Data: Detailed data about car ownership including some usage measures per vehicle can be provided by the supervisor, in addition to data on tollroads and charging stations.

Suitable for profiles: ECO, ECN, ENE, BUS, FIE, INB

Supervisor: Morten Sæthre

 

Research questionAdverse Selection with Costly Verification

Background: The problem of adverse selection can alter the operation of markets in fundamental ways; for example, as in Akerlof's lemon market where used-car sellers have private information about the quality of cars, only low-quality cars will predominate in the market, because sellers would not be compensated for offering good-quality cars. Although the problem stems from asymmetric information, little attention has been paid to how sellers might supply information (or provide evidence) to mitigate asymmetric information problems. Intuitively, if they can, sellers who own good-quality cars are willing to provide hard evidence, in order to discriminate from lemon sellers. However, such a verification process is often costly. How this trade-off affects sellers' incentive to provide evidence? More generally, is the option of providing evidence useful in mitigating the problem of adverse selection? 

Key references: (1) Paul Milgrom (2008) "What the Seller won't Tell You: Persuasion and Disclosure in Markets", Journal of Economic Perspectives. (2) Eddie Dekel's slides for presidential address in EEA-ESEM 2016. 

Suitable for profiles:  ECN, MBM, STR, ECO

Supervisor: Chang-Koo Chi

 

Research question: Strategic Resource Dependence with Asymmetric Information

Background: Consider a dynamic bargaining problem between a buyer and a seller in exhaustible-resource markets. The resource (e.g., oil) seller is better informed about its reserve than the buyer, and determines supply of the recourse strategically in that the seller wants to increase the buyer's dependence on the resource to strengthen her bargaining power. The buyer is also strategic; he has an option to develop an alternative resource (a backstop technology) to reduce his dependence on the resource, but there is a time-to-build delay for developing the technology. It would be interesting to see how strategic behaviors and asymmetric information affect the equilibrium price dynamics. The result may also suggest a policy implication for oil-producing countries.  

Key references: For survey, refer to Gerard Gaudet (2007) "Natural Resource Economics under the Rule of Hotelling", Canadian Journal of Economics. For recent contributions, refer to Gerlagh and Liski (2013) "Strategic Resource Dependence", Journal of Economic Theory

Suitable for profiles:  ECN, ENE, STR, ECO

Supervisor: Chang-Koo Chi

 

Research question: Which determinants affect the lay-up of offshore vessels?

Background: Falling oil prices and activity in the rig market has led to nearly 100 offshore supply vessels being put in lay-up in Norway alone.  In addition to market conditions and contractual arrangements, this decision is likely influenced by the technical specifications and conditions of the vessel.  The research will evaluate the micro- and macro-level determinants that affect the probability of vessels going into layup.

Key references: Alizadeh, A. H., Strandenes, S. P., & Thanopoulou, H. (2016). Capacity retirement in the dry bulk market: A vessel based logit model. Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, 92, 28-42.

Data: Data on the laid-up and trading fleet is provided by the supervisor and industry databases such as Clarksons.

Suitable for profiles:  BUS, FIN, ENE, ECO, INB

Supervisor: Roar Ådland

 

Research question: Do physical oil movements predict the oil price?

Background: The satellite tracking of vessels has for the first time enabled researchers to get access to micro-level data on the seaborne international trade of commodities such as crude oil cargoes.  Such data are more timely than traditional customs-based trade volumes and may have value to commodity traders as a real-time indicator of trading patterns and volumes.  The research will evaluate whether physical movements of crude lead changes in the price of the commodity and whether any predictive ability is economically meaningful.

Key references: Kilian, L., & Murphy, D. P. (2014). The role of inventories and speculative trading in the global market for crude oil. Journal of Applied Econometrics, 29(3), 454-478.

Data: Data on individual shipments of oil with loading date and source/destination is provided by the supervisor from industry sources.

Suitable for profiles:  BUS, FIN, ENE, ECO

Supervisor: Roar Ådland

 

Research question: Understanding the Determinants of Criminal Behavior

Background: What drives individuals to commit crime, what factors explain aggregate crime rates, and what factors are most important?  Economic factors such as unemployment, wages, inequality, and poverty?  Demographic factors such as population, urban density, and education levels?  And how effective are anti-crime measures and how do criminals respond to them?  This master thesis project aims to examine some of these factors and the effects they have on crime. 

Key References: Freeman (1999): Chapter 52 The economics of crime, Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, 1999.

Data: Collect your own data, examples of possible sources include FBI Uniform Crime Reports and publicly available Nordic Register based sources such as data available from ssb.no or statistikbanken.dk.

Suitable for profiles: ECN, ECO, STR

Supervisor: Patrick Bennett

 

Research question: Non-Economic Returns to Education

Background: Education leads to higher wages and better employment outcomes.  However, education can also impact a variety of non-economic factors as well.  Whether and how much education impacts these factors has sizeable implications not only for the individual but also the social benefits to education.  This master thesis project aims to examine the impact of education on these non-economic factors, for example marriage, family outcomes, political involvedness, health, and willingness to engage in risky behaviors. 

Key References: Lochner (2011): Chapter 2 - Nonproduction Benefits of Education: Crime, Health, and Good Citizenship, Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier, 2011.

Data: Collect your own data, potential examples include NLSY or publicly available Nordic Register based sources such as data available from ssb.no or statistikbanken.dk.

Suitable for profiles: ECN, ECO, STR, BUS

Supervisor: Patrick Bennett

 

Research question: Are eco-labeled seafood sold at a premium?

Background: Eco-label is an important market-based policy tool to promote sustainability in fisheries. Seafood eco-labels certify that the harvesting process of the seafood satisfies certain sustainability requirements. Labeled seafood is sold at a price premium and may have better market access than non-labeled seafood. The price premium can cover the additional costs associated with sustainable harvesting and monitoring. In a recent study, Blomquist, Bartolino and Waldo examine whether Swedish fishermen gain a price premium from participating in the MSC-certified Swedish Eastern Baltic cod fishery. A similar research can be done about Norwegian fisheries.

Key references: Blomquist, Johan, Valerio Bartolino, and Staffan Waldo. "Price Premiums for Providing Eco-labelled Seafood: Evidence from MSC-certified Cod in Sweden." Journal of Agricultural Economics 66.3 (2015): 690-704.

Suitable for profiles:  ECO, ECN, STR, BUS, ENE

Supervisor: Yuanhao Li

 

Research question: The effect of eco-label proliferation and consumer confusion

Background: There is abundant evidence that consumers are willing to pay a premium for goods produced using more environmentally friendly processes. However, production processes are hard for consumers to observe. Eco-labeling is a mechanism that informs consumers about the production process of certified goods. The number of eco-labels in the market is expected to continue to increase. The proliferation of eco-labels confuses consumers. However, there is no evidence how such confusion affects consumers’ willingness to pay for environmental performance. Should authorities enforce regulations that clarify the meaning of eco-labels? What are the effects of consumer confusion on consumption choices, environmental performance and welfare?

Key references: Harbaugh, Rick, John W. Maxwell, and Beatrice Roussillon. "Label confusion: The Groucho effect of uncertain standards." Management Science 57.9 (2011): 1512-1527.

Suitable for profiles:  ECO, ECN, STR, BUS, ENE

Supervisor: Yuanhao Li

 

Research question: Do smoking policies affect smoking behavior and do better-educated individuals react faster to policy changes?

Background: The strong correlation between education and health, even after controlling for income, has been recognized as a robust empirical observation in the social sciences and economic literature (Deaton and Paxson 2003; Lleras-Muney 2004). The decision to smoke or not to smoke is a conscious choice that directly affects the health status and ultimately the mortality of individuals. It therefore provides an interesting opportunity to investigate how education, by influencing behaviors, affects health outcomes.

Key references: Damien de Walque (2010): “Education, Information, and Smoking Decisions: Evidence from Smoking Histories in the United States, 1940–2000” Journal of Human Resources, 45:682-717.

Data: Norwegian smoking habit survey from 1973-2011

Suitable for profiles:  ECO, ECN, (STR, INB, BUS)

Supervisor: Aline Bütikofer

  

Research question: How did the internet change the channels of job search?

Background: People that search for a job have several options to find it: read newspapers, go to employment agencies, browse the web and mobilize their local networks of friends and relatives. Networking has increasingly become important for job search. Social networks are an important source of information in the labor market and many workers find jobs through friends and relatives. On the other hand, an increasing number of people use the Internet to look for new jobs. One reason online job search has become so popular is that it has changed the search process considerably. Employment websites allow job seekers to access thousands of job offers and use intelligent filter mechanisms to find suitable vacancies.

Key references: Kuhn, P. J. and M. Skuterud (2004): “Internet Job Search and Unemployment Durations," The American Economic Review, 94, 218-232.

Data: Norwegian Labor Force Survey

Suitable for profiles:  ECO, ECN, STR, INB, BUS

Supervisor: Aline Bütikofer

  

Research question: Do economic Booms and Busts affect sleeping patterns and the number of hours of leisure activities?

Background: Although health is usually thought to worsen when the economy weakens, substantial recent research suggests that mortality actually declines during such periods. Could this decline in mortality be explained by people enjoying more free time and more sleep during recession?

Key references: Christopher J. Ruhm (2000): “Are Recessions Good for Your Health?” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115 (2): 617-650.

Data: Norwegian time use survey 1971-2010

Suitable for profiles:  ECO, ECN, STR, INB, BUS

Supervisor: Aline Bütikofer

 

 Research question: What is the optimal system of intellectual property rights to encourage innovation?

Background: Intellectual property rights are usually associated with the patent system – patents and patent laws. The relationship between patents and innovations has been studied extensively, for example how patent laws create incentives to invent, promote innovation and encourage economic growth. Historical or modern data analysis do, however, give no clear answers, and there is a potential for research that addresses several questions: Does the existence of strong patent laws encourage innovation?  What proportion of innovations is patented? Is this share constant across industries? How does patenting and licensing affect the diffusion of knowledge? Such questions have only to a limited extent been studied in a Norwegian context.

Key reference: P. Moser, ‘Patents and Innovation: Evidence from Economic History’, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 27 (1), 2013.

Data: Patent and innovation statistics from the Norwegian Research Council (NFR) and Patentstyret. Norwegian policy documents, company annual reports.

Suitable for profiles: ECO, ECN, STR, INB, BUS.

Supervisor: Bjørn L. Basberg

 

Research question: What is the economic significance of commercial activities in the Antarctic region?

Background: The Antarctic region has a long history of resource exploitation (sealing, whaling). Today, human activity in the region is dominated by science, but there are also industries like fisheries, tourism and bio-prospecting. Such industries have to a small extent been analyzed in an economic context and several questions are interesting to pursue. What is the economic scale of these operations? What is the economic and financial importance for the companies involved? Are management and regulatory systems sufficient?

Key reference: B.L. Basberg, ‘Perspectives on the Economic History of the Antarctic Region’, International Journal of Maritime History, VO. XVIII (2), 2006,

Data: Economics and business statistics on tourism from the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) and on fisheries from the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

Suitable for profiles: ECO, ECN, STR, INB, BUS.

Supervisor: Bjørn L. Basberg

    

Research question: Does globalization lead to better sorting in labour markets?

Background: To what extent does the labour market match «good» workers to «good» firms? And does increased international trade play a role in this process? Recent theory suggests that opening to international trade gives firms in comparative advantage industries incentives to screen better in the labour market such that they end up with better workers. This improves sorting in the labour market. The paper by Davidson et al (2014) tests this using data from Sweden. A similar analysis is possible to conduct using data from Norway.

Key references: Davidson et al (2014): Globalization and imperfect labour market sorting. Journal of International Economics 94: 177-194

Data: Data on industry level correlations between worker and firm «quality» will be provided by supervisor. Tariff data to measure openness from the UNCTAD TRAINS database, industry level import and export data for Norway from Statistics Norway or COMTRADE.

Suitable for profiles:  ECO, ECN, STR, INB, (BUS)

Supervisor: Ragnhild Balsvik

 

Research question: Does offshoring lead to reduced employment and/or increased wage inequality?

Background: A large literature studies the relationship between offshoring and labour market outcomes. A central question has been to what extent offshoring affects wages. Studies are conducted both at the firm and at the industry level. For a master thesis it would be possible to get industry level trade and wage data for Norway from Statistics Norway, and investigate whether there is a relationship between measures of offshoring and wages , employment level s and wage inequality. 

Key references: Feenstra and Hanson (1999):  The Impact of Outsourcing and High-Technology Capital on Wages: Estimates for the United States, 1979-1990, Quarterly Journal of Economics

Data: Industry level trade and wage data from Statistics Norway, or possibly other countries.

Suitable for profiles:  ECO, ECN, STR, INB, (BUS)

Supervisor: Ragnhild Balsvik

 

Research question: Understanding paternalism

Background: The extent to which it is acceptable to restrict the freedom of individuals in order to promote their own best interest is at the core of much political debate about the relationship between the state and its citizens: Should the state institute mandatory retirement savings, require motorcyclists to wear helmets or refuse to enforce certain types of contracts? Questions about the legitimate role of paternalism are also important in many interpersonal relationships, in particular between parents and their children, and people’s views on these matters may be of great importance for understanding their willingness to accept inequality in society. The master thesis project should conduct experiments to study a person’s willingness to reduce another individual’s freedom in order to promote that individual’s best interests. For example by studying how the willingness to act paternalistically depends on the characteristics of the individuals whose freedom is being restricted, such as how well informed they are, their competence, and their age.

Key references: Julian Le Grand & Bill New (2015): Government Paternalism: Nanny State or Helpful Friend? Princeton University Press, 2015

Data: Collect your own data either by conducting an experiment on the online labor market Amazon Mechanical Turk or by doing a survey experiment.

Suitable for profiles:  ECO, ECN, STR, INB, ENE

Supervisor: Alexander W. Cappelen

 

Research question: How can we explain CEO pay?

Background: There is a widespread suspicion that top managers and other key person are overpaid. They are frequently lavishly rewarded when the firm is lucky and not penalized when the firm is unlucky. Some receive discretionary severance pay that the firms are not committed to pay. Pay structure and level seem to depend on the owner structure. There are a large set of observations that are puzzling if you believe that owners should provide cost efficient incentives to managers. The project might examine pay structure in a particular industry or across countries and compare observations with empirical predictions from analytical models.

Key references: Bebchuk, L. A. and J. M. Fried (2004) Pay without performance: The unfulfilled promise of executive compensation, Harvard University Press

Data: TBD

Suitable for profiles: ECO, ECN, FIN

Supervisor: Eirik Gaard Kristiansen

 

Research question: Technology markets: How to (not) sell technologies?

Background: The best innovators are often not the best producers. Many patented technologies with different owners need to be used together in order to produce a valuable product. Consequently, there should be a vivid market for technology transactions. However, many claim that the market is smaller than expected and not working very well. Knowhow is not easy to sell: None are willing to buy something before they have seen it, and when they have seen it (and can use it) why should they pay for it? Will the patent system solve the problem or can patenting prevent investments in new technologies. You might use Apple (or another firm) as a motivating example for a study of how firms might organize sales and purchases of technologies?

Key references: Bessen, J. and M.J. Meurer, (2008) Patent failure: How judges, bureaucrats, and lawyers put innovation at risk, Princeton University Press.
Jaffe, A. B. and J. Lerner (2004): Innovation and its Discontents: How our broken patent system is endangering innovation and progress, and what to do about it, Princeton University Press

Data: TBD

Suitable for profiles: ECO, ECN, FIN, STR

Supervisor: Eirik Gaard Kristiansen

 

Research question: Regulation of financial markets: How can the political process produce very different regulations across countries?

Background:  Improved financial market regulation ensure that information is widely spread and investors can trust information and contracts. However, not all parties benefit from better regulation. For example, some established firms dislike that new entrants obtain financing, demand for labour may increase which again will increase wages.  In an influential book, Rajan and Zingales describe how financial regulation across countries can be explained by political forces in favour and against better regulation. A possible project would be to discuss how strong labour unions, industry structure, openness to trade and other institutional characteristics can explain the current regulation in Norway. The project might combine insights from analytical approaches discussed in Tirole with the empirical literature discussed in the book by Rajan and Zingales.

Key references: Rajan R. G. and L. Zingales (2003), Saving capitalism from the capitalists Princeton University Press.
Tirole, J (2006) The theory of Corporate Finance, see chapter 16 on Institutions, Public Policy and the Political Economy of Finance, Princeton University Press.

Data: TBD

Suitable for profiles: ECO, ECN, FIN

Supervisor: Eirik Gaard Kristiansen

 

Tema: Importvernets betydning for konkurransen i dagligvaremarkedet.

Bakgrunn: Norge har i dag et sterkt importvern på matvarer. I hvilken grad har importvernet betydning for konkurransen i dagligvaremarkedet, eksempelvis nå det gjelder produktutvalg og priser? Videre, hvilke implikasjoner har importvernet for etablering av nye aktører i dagligvaremarkedet?

Veileder: Linda Orvedal

 

Tema: Parkering på flyplasser.

Bakgrunn: Her kan man få en oversikt over konkurranse vs. monopol ved ulike flyplasser. Hva er prisene på parkeringsplassene ved de ulike flyplassene? Det er mulig å gjøre en spørreundersøkelse på langtidsparkering: hvis parkeringen fjernes, hva vil man da gjøre? Reise kollektivt, ta drosje, bli kjørt osv. Dette er et aktuelt tema som har vært oppe i media i den senere tid.

Veileder: Linda Orvedal

 

Tema: Foretakssammenslutning i markeder med anbudskonkurranse

Bakgrunn: En del foretakssammenslutninger foregår i markeder preget av anbudskonkurranser. Enkelte anbudsmarkeder er preget av få aktører, og et argument som ofte framsettes er at i anbudsmarkeder er det nok med to eller veldig få aktører for at det skal være virksom konkurranse. Se for eksempel Klemperer (2005): "Bidding markets". Hvilke implikasjoner kan foretakssammenslutninger ha i anbudsmarkeder med få aktører? Er det nok bedrifter igjen til å sikre virksom konkurranse? Når er det greit å gå fra 3 til 2 aktører i markedet? Oppgaven kan være en teoretisk/litteratur gjennomgang, eksempelvis knyttet opp mot en spesifikk foretakssammenslutning.

Her er Torghatten/Fjord1 saken en aktuelt sak som oppgaven evt. kan lenkes opp mot
http://www.konkurransetilsynet.no/nb-NO/vedtak-og-avgjorelser/vedtak-og-avgjorelser/2016/vedtak-v2016-5---offentlig-versjon---sogn-og-fjordane-fylkeskommune---torghatten/

Veileder: Linda Orvedal

 

Research question: What are the determinants of antisocial and deceptive behavior in a productivity context

Background:  Many companies face challenges trying to monitor potential non-compliance of employees and consumers, and try to create a culture that limits deceptive reporting of performances and the future outlook of potential investments.
Standard economic analysis of this type of 'Principal-agent' problems focuses on the agent's tradeoff between reaping the benefits of 'cheating' their organisation versus the probability of being found out combined with the subsequent consequences. Behavioral economics has suggested that many more factors play a role in these situations, from people appearing to be averse to lying (Gneezy, 2005, AER) to people showing a preference for reciprocal behavior (e.g. Fishbacher et al, 2001, Economics letters or Berg et al, 1995, Games and Economic Behavior).
The master thesis project should conduct experiments to study what conditions contribute to systematically more or less deceptive or group-productivity undermining behavior. For example by looking at the effect of different presentations of monitoring and incentive measures on the willingness of participants to deceive and cheat to obtain more money.

Data: Collect your own data either by conducting an experiment on the online labor market Amazon Mechanical Turk or by doing a survey experiment.

Background reading:
-Abbink, Klaus, Bernd Irlenbusch, and Elke Renner. "The moonlighting game: An experimental study on reciprocity and retribution." Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 42.2 (2000): 265-277.
-Berg, Joyce, John Dickhaut, and Kevin McCabe. "Trust, reciprocity, and social history." Games and economic behavior 10.1 (1995): 122-142.
-Bott, Kristina, et al. "You’ve got mail: A randomised field experiment on tax evasion." NHH Norwegian School of Economics (2014).
-Fischbacher, Urs, Simon Gächter, and Ernst Fehr. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment." Economics letters 71.3 (2001): 397-404.
-Gneezy, Uri. "Deception: The role of consequences." The American Economic Review 95.1 (2005): 384-394.

Suitable for profiles:  ECO, ECN, STR, INB, ENE, BUS

Supervisor: Thomas de Haan

 

Research question: Do REDD-policies reduce tropical deforestation?

Background: The Paris agreement from 2015 shows that there is much political will to make reduction of deforestation rates central to the global reduction of CO2-emissions. REDD-initiatives, which seek to reduce deforestation in developing countries, represent part of the policy response by countries like Germany and Norway. However, the scientific evidence to guide the design and implementation of such policies is limited (Burke et al. 2016; The Economist 2015). The thesis would combine data on REDD-projects with deforestation data and test whether such projects have an effect. Work on the thesis could involve a stipend and travel to Brazil. 
Key references:
Burke et al. (2016). Opportunities for advances in climate change economics. Science 352(6283), 292–293.
The Economist (2015), Governments do not know the best way to save the Amazon rainforest.
Anderson et al. (2016), The Effects of Land Use Regulation on Deforestation: Evidence from the Brazilian Amazon, Oxcarre working paper 172.

Data: database on deforestation from the NHH research project Tropical Deforestation and Economic Development and data from the Amazon fund on REDD-projects. If one could obtain data on policies, a similar thesis could be written on deforestation data for other countries, such as Indonesia or the Democratic Republic of Congo (deforestation data are available from the project). 

Tags: development economics, environment, natural resources, applied economics  

Suitable for profiles:  ECO, ECN, STR, INB, (BUS)

Supervisor: Torfinn Harding

 

Research question: The effect of labor demand from the oil sector on Norwegian wages

Background: Oil has been essential in the Norwegian economy for the last four decades. Norway has become a rich country, with high wages as well as high prices. While the spending of the oil revenues has benefit most parts of the country, the labour demand from the oil sector itself has been felt more intensely in specific sectors and regions. The thesis will study the effect on wages in these parts of the economy compared to the remaining parts of the economy. The thesis would take advantage of empirical techniques such as difference-in-difference estimation and instrument variable estimation, using sector and municipality data combined with detailed data on the activities in the oil sector. The thesis work could involve a stipend and taking part in a larger research project on the effects of oil in the Norwegian economy, instituted by the Center for Empirical Labor Economics (CELE) and the group for Macroeconomics and Natural Resources.  

Key references: Allcott, Hunt, and Daniel Keniston (2015), "Dutch Disease or Agglomeration? The Local Economic Effects of Natural Resource Booms in Modern America." Working Paper.

Data: sector and municipality specific data on wages and data on oil sector activities.

Tags: macroeconomics, natural resources, applied economics  

Suitable for profiles:  ECO, ECN, STR, INB, (BUS)

Supervisor: Torfinn Harding

 

Research question: Are the Norwegian speed limits too low?

Background: The Norwegian national transport plan 2014-23 states a vision of zero traffic accidents causing death or serious injury. From an economist’s point of view, however, there must be a trade-off between safety on the hand, and speed and efficiency on the other. The first questions are whether lower speed limits lower the actual driving speed and whether lower driving speed reduce accidents. To achieve trustworthy estimates of this, one could take advantage of changes in speed limits that have occurred at the national level or other plausibly exogenous changes in speed limits. Armed with estimates of the actual response in speed and accidents, one can evaluate time costs towards the costs related to accidents. The latter part could be a relatively simple and small part of the thesis. In terms of methodology, the thesis would apply modern econometric techniques and would be an excellent way to get comfortable with current quasi-experimental techniques in empirical economics. 
Key references: Arthur van Benthem, What is the optimal speed limit on freeways? Journal of Public Economics, Volume 124, April 2015, Pages 44–62.

Data: Data on speed limits, actual speed and accidents should be available from the relevant Norwegian institutions.

Suitable for profiles:  ECO, ECN, STR, INB, (BUS)

Supervisor: Torfinn Harding

 

Research question: Environmental policies under the risk of carbon leakage

Background: Stringent regulation to reduce CO2 emissions may force polluting firms to relocate their industry to other jurisdictions. To prevent this so-called carbon leakage, regulator needs to compensate firms for their abatement; for instance, European Commission gives free emission permits to the most vulnerable industries. This thesis analyzes following questions: What impact does carbon leakage have on the optimal choice of environmental policy? How does the chosen policy affect both short- and long-term behavior of the firm? When can carbon leakage be a part of the optimal solution?

Key references: Martin, R., Muûls, M., De Preux, L. B., & Wagner, U. (2014). Industry compensation under relocation risk: A firm-level analysis of the EU emissions trading scheme. The American Economic Review, 104(8): 2482-2508.

Data: Firm level data gathered by telephone interviews with managers of 761 manufacturing firms in six European countries, by Martin et al.

Suitable for profiles:  ECN, ENE, ECO, (STR)

Supervisor: Lassi Ahlvik

 

Research question: International SOY TRADE AND DEFORESTATION

Background: Amazon deforestation is largely driven by the global demand for agricultural products. Brazil is the largest soybean exporter in the world, and expansion of soy production has been a main driver behind deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. This thesis aims to analyze patterns of international soy trade and asses the effects of policy interventions and commodity market effects to reduce deforestation rates by soy production.

Data: Global supply-chain data of soy, linking regional soy production to exporters, importers, and consumer countries.

Suitable for profiles:  ECN, ENE, ECO

Supervisor: Lassi Ahlvik

 

Tema: Prisendring hos industribedrifter - hvilken betydning har konsentrasjonen?

For at pengepolitikken skal ha en virkning, er en forutsetning at det er en viss grad av prisrigiditet hos aktørene i økonomien. Tidligere analyser viser stor variasjon i hyppigheten av produktprisendringer, både mellom bedrifter og mellom ulike næringer. I denne oppgaven skal vi spesielt se på konsentrasjonen og/eller markedsandelen til en bedrift, og hvordan dette påvirker prisendringsmønsteret. Er det slik at markedsandelen til en bedrift har betydning for prisendringsmønsteret? Dataene baseres på prisdata fra norske industribedrifter samlet sammen av SSB.

Veileder: Øivind Anti Nilsen

  

Tema: Hvordan påvirkes stabiliteten i banknæringen av konkurransen mellom bankene?

Et mål på stabilitet hos bankene er størrelsen på misligholdet lån, mens markedsandel eller fortjenestemargin kan være mål på graden av konkurranse. En mulig oppgave vil være å kartlegge sammenhengen mellom mislighold og bankspesifikke mål på konkurranse. En annen oppgave vil være knyttet til tapsavsetninger og i hvilken grad den enkelte bank er diversifisert eller ikke med hensyn på eksponering mot ulike næringer. Er det slik at banker som er lite diversifiserte også er mer risikoutsatte, eller vil en konsentrasjon av bransjekunnskap hos en bank være en fordel? Oppgaven(e) vil i hovedsak være empirisk orientert og baseres på paneldata fra norsk banknæring over de siste 20 årene.

Veileder: Øivind Anti Nilsen

 

RESEARCH QUESTION: Nowcasting and predicting the Norwegian economy

Background: A large number of indicators have been proposed to predict the current and future state of the economy. Many macroeconomic or financial data are being reported at different points in time and some are subject to revisions. The measurement of current and future economic conditions is essential for the conduct  of macroeconomic policy, dating of business cycles and household or financial decision making . What are important factors predicting current and future economic activity and financial variables, such as exchange rates, stock prices, …?

Key references: Stock, J. and M. Watson. (1999). Forecasting Inflation. Journal of Monetary Economics v44(2): 293-335

Suitable for profiles:  ECN, ECO, FIE

Supervisor: Gernot Doppelhofer

 

RESEARCH QUESTION: ASSESSING THE NORWEGIAN MACROECONOMIC POLICY FRAMEWORK

 Background: The design of monetary and fiscal policy has moved towards a rule based framework, exemplified by the so-called Taylor rule or the “Handlingsreglene” governing the management of the oil fund in Norway. How does monetary and/or fiscal policy respond  to shocks affecting the Norwegian economy? Are the responses of macroeconomic policy stable over time. How did the economy and financial markets respond to the introduction of these rules?

Key references: Clarida, R., J. Gali and M. Gertler. (1999). The Science of Monetary Policy: A New Keynesian Perspective, Journal of Economic Literature 37(4): 1661-1707. J. Taylor (2000). Reassessing Discretionary Fiscal Policy. Journal of Economic Perspectives 14(3): 21-36.

Suitable for profiles:  ECN, ECO, FIE

Supervisor: Gernot Doppelhofer