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My Personal Statement: University of Cambridge | Economics - Emma T.

APR 23, 2021

Emma got accepted to Cambridge with her essay about how her interest in economics is rooted in her desire to promote global welfare and sustainability, by way of reconciling effective economic policy with longstanding political motivations. She references multiple academic experiences and current events to demonstrate her understanding of economics and the concepts she looks forward to exploring more.

This essay is part of a collection of personal statements written by Crimson students who were accepted to their top-choice universities in the US and UK. By bringing together nearly 25 of our best students’ essays, we want to provide inspiration for future students with the same aspirations and goals. This series will showcase the wonderful variety in our student’s essay creations — powered by their personal voice and supported by their dedicated Crimson essay mentors. Ready to be inspired? Let’s go…


I first came across economics in 2015 whilst searching for a topic for a project on sustainability.

While others focused on the environment, I found researching how to maintain sustainable debt in the third world far more interesting. This made me realise the critical role of economic policy in global welfare, particularly in supporting the most vulnerable, which is why I wish to pursue the study of economics.

I further explored my interest in economics during the Future Problem Solving competitions nationally and then internationally in the US in 2017. Through this, I searched for solutions for hypothetical future problems, which led me to research Public Choice Theory to try to reconcile effective economic policy and political motivations, which were often at odds. I found that if we deem public image as a positive “good” for politicians, market theory can be applied and such analysis could be used to develop economic policies that are politically viable. I am eager to learn how other factors besides politics could be accounted for in a similar way, improving the use of economic tools.

In order to understand economic developments on a global level, I participated in Model EU in 2018 where I was elected the Trade Commissioner for New Zealand. Here, I negotiated a trade agreement with the EU where their protectionist policies on agricultural products were a key issue due to NZ’s heavy reliance on these exports. A free trade agreement would benefit NZ far more than the EU due to the respective proportion of trade with one another. Through this, I learnt that globalisation is not always the most rational choice for countries, even if there are expected future benefits - which is something that I hope to analyse further.

As I am especially concerned with the impact of globalisation on communities, I researched the adverse economic impact of anthropomorphic climate change and ocean acidification on the New Zealand seafood industry. This made me curious about whether Green GDP may be required to direct economic policies. However, there is no accurate method of calculating the value of environmental degradation which means government policies based on GDP may become ineffective. Alternatively, NDP, which takes into account the depreciation of human and physical capital, could capture the degradation of natural resources more accurately, but is not widely used to inform policy.

I then became aware of issues related to the current use of GDP as an economic tool after reading ‘The Value of Everything’ by Mariana Mazzucato. The exclusion of productive unpaid work by the production boundary made me reflect the likely ramifications in the developing world as a large proportion of work is unpaid. Therefore, displacement of productive unpaid workers could be misinterpreted for an expanding labour force. I am excited to learn how current economic tools such as GDP and concepts for the future such as Green GDP can be developed in order to tackle the issues society faces.

I realised the importance of cultural systems in regards to income distribution after the Christchurch terrorist attacks, which happened only a short distance from my home. The victims were predominantly male and sole providers for their families, which led to immense financial difficulties. Because of this, I organised a school fundraising event, raising over 6000 NZD for the Muslim community. This experience demonstrated that there are inherent vulnerabilities in cultural systems to certain unforeseen events and that, ultimately, traditional economic models ignore cultural norms which may obscure otherwise predictable outcomes.

Economics is evidently at the forefront of guiding international action in order to help those most affected by global developments. I wish to study how the tools and models found within economics can be used to achieve this, and hope to apply the knowledge and skills I gain in a career in organisations such as the World Bank or IMF.

NEXT WEEK: Read the essay that got Crimson CEO, Jamie Beaton into Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Columbia, and UPenn!


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