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The Third Annual Tech-Econference
What do the gender wage gap, gun ownership, and short-term rentals have in common? These issues have demanded social and political responses. These immediate concerns are also at the heart of undergraduate economics research at the University of Toronto.

Matters of current events and contemporary concerns filled the agenda of the third Tech-Econference on May 11, 2023. The event, held via Zoom, showcased research completed over the past academic year. Presentations included Yuichuro Tomitsuka’s Are Influencers Really Influencing the Economy? Chloe Chao’s Private but Transparent: Pay Transparency and the Gender Wage Gap, and The Power of Twitter Data - Investigating the Relationship Between Sentiment and Political Trends by Shamayla Islam.

Each of the 10-minute presentations featured the students’ big-data management and data visualization skills. Allyson Cui used mapping clusters as a data visualization tool in her work, What Electoral System Would Allow Donald Trump to Win the 2020 US Presidential Election? The use of satellite data, data scraping techniques and the use of machine learning methods to economic were also featured.

Assistant Professor Nazanin Khazra, instructor of ECO225, Data Tools for Economists, created the student showcase three years ago.

“The presentations represented what undergraduate studies in economics are all about,” said Dr. Khazra. “They show the students’ development of research skills, and their growing comfort with research tools and methods. We also heard about trial and error, and about making mistakes and correcting them. These are important experiences in the use and presentation of data as students mature into graduates.”

Ettore Damiano, Chair of the Department of Economics and Vice Chair Vice-Chair Robert Gazzale acted as judges to select the top three presentations.

“All of the presentations were exceptionally interesting,” Chair Damiano told the participants. “It is always difficult to select just three since everyone practiced and did great jobs.”

Rose Zhang won first place for her presentation, The Impact of Short-Term Rentals on the Housing Market that examined differences in housing affordability created by short term rentals in highly touristic and lower touristic communities. Victoria Zhang was the runner-up for her research paper, Can Gun Ownership Explain Police Killings? Yunfei (Kevin) Wong to third place for his investigation titled Political Favoritism and Gender Bias in Foreign Aid.

The Department of Economics will hold the Fourth Annual Tech-Econference to showcase undergraduate research in May 2024.