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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. 

HIEEC 2023-2024
HIEEC 2023-2024 is now closed. 

The 2023-2024 Harvard International Economics Essay Contest is sponsored by the Harvard Undergraduate Economics Association (HUEA). 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 on our website 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.


Yiheng Lyu​

Damien Man

Yuzheng Li


Audrey Kuk​

Damien Man

Hyoungjin Jin

Juyoung Chun

Kevin Zhang

Matthew Choi

Mikayil Sadikhov

Raunak Agarwal

Sheraz Ali

Vallabh Himakunthala

Yiheng Lyu

Yueyan Ma

Yuzheng Li

Zimo Shao

Zitai Chao

Highly Commended

Aronima Biswas

Aryan Nangia

Brian Chou

Kridaya Gupta

Leonardo Jia

Rian Julka

Rohan Mathur

Seoin Yang

Anagha Chakravarti

Sophia Li

Lehan Chan

Amberlynn Gong

Aiden Choi

Neha Shanavas

Donghyeon Oh

2023-2024 Essay Questions

  1. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have the potential to affect growth, inequality, productivity, innovation, and employment. OpenAI’s ChatGPT, in particular, has greatly increased public awareness about the significance of AI and its implications for the future. What impact will the development of AI have on economic inequality, the composition of the workforce, and economic output as a whole? How can nations prepare for the micro and macroeconomic changes brought about by AI?

  2. Measuring national and global economic activity allows us to understand how economies change in size and structure—how they grow and contract. In addition to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), government budgets, and the money supply, alternatives like the Human Development Index (HDI) and Gross National Income (GNI) are used to assess economic progress. What are the advantages of our current economic indices, including GDP, HDI, GNI, government budgets, and the money supply, and in what areas are they lacking? Which of these indices do you find most helpful, and how can we enhance or combine them to improve our understanding of economic measurement?

  3. Proponents of income redistribution support the idea that redistribution policies will increase economic stability and give more opportunities to the less wealthy. Others, however, are more skeptical and believe it could have negative consequences for economic growth. Current methods of redistribution include taxation, welfare, public services, and other monetary policies. What strategies for income redistribution should the U.S. adopt from other countries? What economic impacts could a wealth tax or super millionaire tax have? What type of redistribution is most effective and feasible? What would be the impacts of the U.S. enacting universal basic income? Discuss the implications of any of these issues and feel free to expand on other areas of economic redistribution.

  4. As the United States weighs the impacts of China’s rise to global prominence, economics and national security have become increasingly intertwined. As a result, the United States government has imposed both tariffs and investment restrictions on China to limit the nation’s access to both US markets and intellectual property (specifically in sensitive industries such as semiconductors). What are the economic implications of these policies for United States firms, consumers, and workers? Discuss the most important perspectives of the US-China trade war and provide suggestions on how both countries can manage the prospect of a changing economic order.

Key Dates

2nd November 2023 – Essay titles released

11:59pm EST 5th January 2024 – Essay submission deadline

Late February 2024* – Highly Commended and Finalists notified

Early March 2024* – Winners notified, results published on the website

*We received a high volume of submissions, therefore we anticipate that it will take us a couple more weeks to release the results. 


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. If this fee will impose a significant financial burden on your family, please email us. The deadline for submitting the essay is 11:59pm EST January 5th, 2024. ​

Please submit essay submissions via this form.

If the above link does not work, use:

*Be sure to read all the details in the submission form carefully before submitting, as failure to complete any of the steps correctly may result in your submission not being considered.

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


The top three winning essays will be published (with the author’s permission) on our website. A finalists list of the top submissions will be published online and adjudicated by 2016 Economics Nobel Prize Winner Oliver Hart. A list of names that will receive the "Highly Commended" distinction will also be published online​. The judges' decisions are final.



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 not 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 HUEA by the final round of adjudication are final.

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

Past Winners
2022 Prompts and Winners
  1. In recent years and decades, many countries have seen fertility rates drop, potentially leading to falling populations. Currently, China has a fertility rate of 1.3, one of the lowest in the world. However, in 2021, China experienced GDP growth of 8% with output totaling $17.7 trillion. Will this lowered fertility rate (with potential to fall further) affect China’s economic growth and policy? How so? What, if anything, can the Chinese government do to limit the risk of falling fertility rates?

  2. U.S. mortgage rates recently passed 7%, making the purchase of a new home increasingly unaffordable. Meanwhile, the United States has suffered from a chronic shortage of available housing for decades, particularly in urban areas, leading to what many scholars and advocates call an affordability crisis. Why is housing so unaffordable in the U.S.? What can (or should) be done by private actors, state and local governments, and the federal government to alleviate the affordability crisis?

  3. It is often suggested that a tradeoff exists between economic growth and the health of the environment, especially now as the threat of climate change becomes more dire. What economic risks does a changing climate pose? Can economic growth be consistent with a healthy environment? What policies, either market-based or otherwise, should governments enact to protect the environment while posing the least danger to economic efficiency? 

  4. Central banks such as the Federal Reserve in the U.S. and the Bank of England in the UK manage their nation’s macroeconomies with the goal of ensuring price stability and maximum employment. Globally, inflation rates are rising to levels not seen since the 1980s, particularly in the U.S. and European countries. To what extent should the monetary policies of central banks in various Western countries differ or resemble one another as a reaction to the specific causes of inflation facing their economies?

Click below to view each winner's essay
Ashwin Telang  *  Nanxi Jiang  *  Duncan Wong
2019 Winner

2020 Winners

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