SOE Graduate Students Sarker and Sigaud reflect on attending the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Canadian Economic Association

Graduate students Prianka Maria Sarker and Liam Sigaud reflect on attending the Canadian Economic Association’s annual conference

Prianka Maria Sarker and Liam Sigaud, both graduate students in the School of Economics, recently attended the 55th Annual Conference of the Canadian Economics Association, hosted (virtually) by Simon Fraser University. Attended by more than 400 economists, this year’s conference focused on the economic ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic, including its effects on the macroeconomy and international trade, government finances, and individuals and families. Assistant Professor Angela Daley, who also attended the event and chaired several of the discussions, asked Prianka and Liam about their experiences.

Why did you attend the conference?

Prianka: This was my first experience of attending an economics conference. So, I was very excited about it and was interested to hear from economists working in different areas of the field. I was also looking to learn about new research ideas, increase my depth of understanding of economic mechanisms and connect with other students and professionals.

Liam: Having mostly been exposed to economists in the classroom or through their writings (and having never attended an economics conference before), I was curious to see how economists talk to each other about their research. I was delighted by the friendly and highly collaborative atmosphere. And by learning about the work of a broad spectrum of economists, I was also hoping to develop new ideas to pursue in my own research and connect with potential collaborators.

What excited you?

Prianka: I was most excited about attending the mentoring session organized by the Canadian Women Economists Committee. It was a great platform to network with other women economists and early career researchers, to hear about their experiences, share my own ideas, ask questions and to get useful advice on strategies to help develop both professionally and personally. Being interested in child health and well-being in my own research, the “Child Well-Being” sessions have especially inspired me to think about new research questions, helped me to gain more insights and also understand some limitations researchers are currently facing in their work. Also, attending the session on “Economic and Development Studies on Bangladesh” was special to me. It was very encouraging to learn about some innovative work based on my own country and chatting with a group of Bangladeshi economists was an added exciting part of this conference for me!

Liam: I was especially excited to attend the sessions on how the coronavirus pandemic (and the government response) has affected the well-being of disadvantaged groups; my own thesis work examines the impact of public policy on the health of low-wage workers. One of the silver linings of this health crisis is that it has led to many new insights into how governments can better help those in need. I also enjoyed attending sessions outside my own area of interest, including talks on the origins of war and how technology is affecting international trade.

Chatting with students from other institutions was a special treat, as the challenges of the past year have left many of us feeling disconnected. And as an added bonus, I got to say hello to one of my inspirations, Susan Athey!

What surprised you?

Prianka: I was surprised to explore how economic research can help us realize the stark gender disparities in different important measures of human and economic well-being and better understand why these groups quite often respond differently to various social and economic policies. 

Liam: I was amazed at the enormous variety of research presented — from the effects of natural disasters on election outcomes, to the structure of cryptocurrency markets, to the ways in which poverty measurement could be improved. I was also surprised by the extent to which economists are drawing from related disciplines, such as political science and psychology, to enrich their own work.

To learn more about the Canadian Economics Association 2021 conference, click here.