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Harvard International Economics

Essay Contest (HIEEC)

HIEEC provides students the opportunity to demonstrate an accomplished level of writing and understanding of economic theory. Through the contest, students hone their academic and professional skills and exhibit their knowledge. 

The 2021 Essay Contest is now open!

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HIEEC 2021
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The 2021 Harvard International Economics Essay Contest is sponsored by the Harvard Undergraduate Economics Association (HUEA) in conjunction with the Harvard College Economics Review (HCER). This essay competition is open to high school students of any year and is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate an accomplished level of writing and understanding of economic theory. Through the contest, student competitors hone their academic and professional skills and exhibit their knowledge to future employers and academic programs. 

Competitors must construct a convincing argument using economic theory and real-world examples. Winning essays will be published in the Harvard Economics Review and will be available for the greater Harvard community to read. Essays should focus on argumentation supported with facts and references, although data-based support is also welcome.

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2021 Essay Questions

  1. The current national debt of the United States stands at roughly $29 trillion, a value greater than the GDP. Some argue that this mountain of debt constitutes an economic threat. Others reassure the public that debt is no cause for concern. Is the national debt a matter for concern, and why or why not?

  2. As governments around the world struggled to control the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, international trade took a massive blow as it experienced unprecedented production chain disruptions. How did such disruptions affect varying economic agents – from individuals to entire nations? What can be done to temper current shocks and prevent future ones?

  3. The Sherman Act of 1890 outlaws "every contract, combination, or conspiracy in restraint of trade," and any "monopolization, attempted monopolization, or conspiracy or combination to monopolize." Over a century after it was adopted, the Sherman Act still actively informs United States antitrust policy. However, many lawmakers are now considering redefining these policies. Is antitrust regulation outdated and in need of modernization? What new policies, if any, should legislators propose? How will these changes affect markets?

  4. The rise of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), in addition to existing forms of decentralized cryptocurrencies, could eventually shape the way global finance is conducted through technology. This spells significant economic and political repercussions, especially as non-US countries such as China implement CBDCs to varying extents. In light of these developments, how should the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, or other institutions and governments proceed with the development of CBDCs in their respective economies?

Key Dates

17th October 2021 – Essay titles released

11:59pm EST 15th December 2021 – Essay deadline

February – Highly Commended and Finalists notified

March – Winners notified, results published on the website

Rules

Entrants must choose one of the four prompts and write a response to it with a strict limit of 1500 words. Submission must be via the HUEA website and entrants are limited to submitting one essay with only the first submission being considered. Each essay submission will have a $20 reading fee which should be paid upon submission of the essay. The deadline for submitting the essay is 11:59pm EST December 15th, 2021. ​

 

The essays will be judged by the boards of the HUEA and HCER, with the top 10 submissions being adjudicated by the esteemed Harvard professor and 2016 Economics Nobel Prize winner Oliver Hart.

Prizes

The top three winning essays will be published (with the author’s permission) on the Harvard Economics Review online Publications. A finalists list of the top 10 submissions will be published online and adjudicated by 2016 Economics Nobel Prize Winner Oliver Hart. A further 20 names will receive honors of “Highly Commended” and their names will be published online​. The judges' decisions are final.

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Terms and Conditions

  • The word limit of 1500 must be strictly adhered to. Any words past the limit will be truncated. This limit excludes references, footnotes, titles, headers and footers.

  • Essays must be written only by the entrant. Any outside assistance must be declared in the beginning or end of the essay.

  • Only your first submission will be accepted. Any further submissions will not be read.

  • References must be included, and any plagiarism will lead to disqualification.

  • References must be in Chicago or APA format. 

  • The only accepted document formatting is PDF. Any other format will not be accepted, nor will refunds be given to those who do follow this rule.

  • No refunds are granted.

  • Grades 9-12 are permitted.

  • The essay must not be entered in any other competition nor be published elsewhere.

  • No individual feedback of essays will be granted.

  • The decisions made by the HUEA, HCER and by the final round of adjudication are final.

  • All winners agree to their names being published on the HUEA website.

Past Winners

Past winners can be found on the Harvard Economics Review website.