PhD Economics

Yu Chen“In this department, everything seems possible,” says Yu Chen, PhD student in the department of Economics. “The program is expanding fast, and in a good way. With it being a young program, there are very few barriers. If you have an idea, and you work hard, that idea will come true. The department will give you all of the support you want and need.”

Yu Chen explains that she was very shy when she first arrived at UWaterloo. She credits the department for encouraging her to connect with fellow graduate students, apply for scholarships, and invest in herself and her ideas. “The department really helped me to build my confidence. I started here as an international student and they helped me to overcome cultural barriers by building a reading course for me and coaching me on communication and writing academic papers.” With support from the faculty, she applied for and received a SSHRC doctoral fellowship. She also worked to create a student support program on campus, where graduate students meet to discuss their current research.

Yu’s area of interest is macro labour – examining the labour market and it’s recovery after an economic recession. When a recession ends, she explains, there is often an assumption that employment rates will rise quickly as the economy recovers, but the reality isn’t that simple. Yu’s research looks at that period of unemployment for citizens and the effect it has on obtaining a job after the recession, as well as peripheral effects such as further education planning. “The question is: what can the government do during that period of time so that individuals who are unemployed can continue to update and refine their skills and prepare for a shift in the labour market.” She explains the benefits of studying macro quite simply: “Macro is everyone. It impacts human population, social welfare, education, and technology. UWaterloo puts a lot of emphasis on policy implications and societal effects, which I like.” Yu considers the applied approach to economics here an important part of the program.

“I like the life here,” she says, when asked about the campus and surrounding area. “The university itself has so many facilities and opportunities to get involved. For student life, it’s very colourful.”

July 2013 Megan Scarborough

University of Waterloo

Profiles by type