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Faculty of Economics

Thursday, 1 July, 2021

The Adam Smith Prize Endowment Fund awards prizes annually for the Part 2B of the Economics Tripos: one for the best overall performance and for the best dissertation submitted. The Adam Smith prize for best overall performance in the Part 2B Tripos was won by Valerie Chuang of Christ's College, Cambridge.

"I’m honoured to have received this award, and incredibly proud of my cohort for overcoming the many challenges posed by the pandemic,” says Ms Chuang. “I have countless people to thank, among them my Christ’s supervisors; Dr Julia Shvets, Mr Dan Wales, and Dr William Peterson. They inspire and educate me in so many ways."

Dr Toke Aidt, Chair of Part 2B examiners, and Director of the Keynes Fund at the Faculty of Economics says “This is a fantastic achievement by Valerie, and what really stood out for me was her performance in the micro exam; it was brilliant, and contained some of the best answers I’ve read in a decade.”

“It really is a tribute to the teaching in the Faculty, and the way the students have risen to the challenge in this, the most difficult of years for many students, that they continue to work to such a high standard,” he adds.

The Adam Smith dissertation prize given for the best dissertation was shared between Matthew Chen of Trinity College for ‘The Comparative Development Legacies of Dutch Colonial Rule and the Vorstenlanden in Java’, and Jack Golden, of Homerton College for ‘It's Not Easy Being Green: An Examination of Residential Solar Panel Adoption and Government Policy’.

Matthew Chen says “It's an honour to have my work recognised in this way, especially given how recently a literature at the intersection of development, economic history and political economy has emerged. This award gives me renewed confidence to continue working on applying new data curation tools and empirical methods to important social science questions.

His plan for the next academic year is to study for an MPhil Economic Research in Cambridge, following which he will seeking opportunities in economic research and data science afterwards.

Matthew Chen: Abstract
Examining the long-run comparative development effects of historical governance under the Dutch colonial state and the Vorstenlanden, self-governing native vassal states, in 19th century Java. Using a novel village-level dataset and a spatial regression discontinuity design across the Dutch-Vorstenlanden boundary, I show that historical exposure to the colonial state significantly alleviated poverty, improved community healthcare provision and raised educational accessibility today relative to Vorstenlanden. Results suggest that activities of the colonial state that were conducive to development, such as strengthening institutions and modernising production, precipitated long-run effects that dominated conceivably deleterious consequences of forced labour and resource extraction.

Jack Golden: Abstract
Between 2010 and 2019 the UK government encouraged homeowners to install solar panels through a feed-in tariff (FiT). Households were offered a guaranteed price over 25 years for any electricity their solar system produced. This dissertation examines the effectiveness of this policy. With a novel dataset, variation over time and across postcode areas is exploited to identify the FiT’s impact using a fixed-effects Poisson estimator. Findings suggest that the FiT is responsible for 75% of installations, but that an upfront subsidy would have been more effective, encouraging 42% more installations at the same cost.

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