HUEA|HCER International Essay Competition
2020 Contest is coming soon!
Thanks for entering, 2700 essays submitted!

Dear students and coaches, ​


We hope you are safe and healthy in these tumultuous times.  While circumstances are currently uncertain, our HUEA team is working hard to hold our annual essay competition during the 2020-21 school year, and HPEC live in spring 2021.


Please fill out this Google form to receive updates and be notified when registration starts! As always, please email with questions or concerns.

2019 winners:

First place

Jonah Abrams

Second place

Henry Xu

Third place

Alexander Yu






Commended Papers

For all essay competition enquiries:

Open to: High School Students, Grade 9-12 (International), Year 10-13 (UK) or students aged between 15 and 18


Since 2018, the Harvard Undergraduate Economics Association (HUEA) has held an annual essay competition. This essay competition will be open to high school students of any year and is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate an accomplished level of writing and to also demonstrate a convincing and well-argued essay. The competition is also an excellent opportunity to display, to colleges and universities, your high level writing skills on Common Application and UCAS personal statements. 

The utilization of economic theory and real-world examples is strongly emphasised upon constructing a convincing argument. This essay should focus more on argumentation supported with facts and references, as opposed to rigorous data-based support (therefore more of a summary paper as opposed to a research paper).


There will be four questions that will be posted on the HUEA website on February 3rd. Entrants must choose one of these questions 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 $5 fee which must be paid upon submission of the essay. The deadline for submitting the essay will be 11:59pm April 30th 2019. There will be a $1,000 grand prize as well as prizes for second and third place.


The essays will be judged by the boards of the HUEA and HCER, with the top 15 submissions being adjudicated by the esteemed Harvard professor and 2016 Economics Nobel Prize winner Oliver Hart.


Entry Requirements

Entry is $5 and is open to high school students from any country and any school. Submissions without payment will not be considered. 

Submission Instructions

1. Make the $5 payment via Paypal or Venmo at the top of this page (email us if you have any issues with this)

2. Only once you have paid the $5 registration fee, fill in the registration form which is also at the top of the page. (You need to have filled in "Yes" to the payment question or your submission will not be counted)

3. Submit an essay in the box "Add Essay Here"  

4. Note: You will not receive confirmation of receipt of essay. We will email you if it is missing


Each essay should address only one of the questions in your chosen subject category, and must not exceed 1500 words (not counting diagrams, tables of data, footnotes, bibliography or authorship declaration). Please submit your essay to the form below, saved in pdf format. The title of the pdf attachment should read Last Name_First Name_Question Number (e.g. Smith_John_2). 



1st Prize: $1000

2nd Prize: $250

3rd Prize: $100

A finalists list of the top 15 submissions will be published online and adjudicated by 2016 Economics Nobel Prize Winner Oliver Hart. The above essays will be published (with the authors' permission) and be available for general purchase in a special edition of the Economics Review. 

A further 20 names will receive honors of “Highly Commended” and their names will be published online

The judges' decisions are final.

Key Dates

11:59pm EST Sunday 3rd February 2019 – Essay titles released

11:59pm EST Tuesday 30th April 2019 – Essay deadline

Late May – Highly Commended and Finalists notified

Late May – Winners notified, results published on the website

2019 Essay Questions

Q1: Behavioral economists have demonstrated that the ability to choose from several options can produce sub-optimal decisions. Under what conditions do people make bad decisions when there are too many options? What are the behavioral implications?

Q2: International trade has been subject to trade barriers, which include tariffs, licenses, and quotas. These trade barriers are a lightning rod for macroeconomic debate. What is the effect of these trade barriers? Is there a good case for having them?

Q3: It is hypothesized that with the advancement of artificial intelligence and robotics techniques, manual labor and other blue-collar jobs may mostly be eliminated from the economy. What are the economic implications of this shift in the United States and to what extent will labor flexibility and quantity be reduced?

Q4: As more economists discuss the possibility of an upcoming recession in light of indicators like the yield curve inversion, what can central banks world wide and fiscal policy leaders do if a recession does occur?

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 who declared they wrote it, and any outside assistance must be declared in the submission form

  • Only your first submission will be accepted, any further submissions will not be read

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

  • 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.

Please direct any questions to

Sasha Agarwal

Benjamin Belay

Jason Chau

Nathan Chen

Kyle Daniels

Aditi Desai

Jan Kaufmann

Denise Hui Jean Lee

John Lubianetsky

Robert McCoy

Joel Sabando

Varun Sangtani

Kate Spencer

Ziqi Zhang

Ahmed Azizogli

Trevor Chow

ZhenYu Dai

Luc Giraud

Doyoon Kim

Shloka Murarka

Ahan Raina

Srivani Vegesna

2020 Harvard Undergraduate Economics Association