We are highlighting some of our graduate students in a series we call Graduate Student Spotlight. First up is Alejandro Abarca, a second-year student in the Applied Economics Ph.D. program originally from San José, Costa Rica. 

What is your area of research?

My current research aims to use applied econometric methods and machine learning to answer economic development questions. For instance, my second year paper estimates the effect of domestic violence on women´s labor supply and labor market outcomes.

What inspired you to choose to study applied economics?

Since my undergraduate studies, I´ve been a hopeless romantic for economic policy, quantitative methods, and public policy design. After getting my master´s degree, I worked as an economist for the institution in Costa Rica that administers the funds for most social programs in the country. Over the years, I saw how my work materialized into public policy and how my analysis could be used to justify and optimize public policies. This was a great feeling, and it always pushed me towards understanding how the world and society work in order to promote changes that make a society better off. I thus decided to acquire more skills and knowledge about how this can be done. And the rest is history...here I am!

Full Interview is here