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The Book Market, Finance and Reasons for Self-Medication: What People are Studying at the Summer School on Institutional Analysis

In the Moscow Region, the Ninth Russian Summer School on Institutional Analysis (RSSIA) was held recently, bringing together 26 young researchers from Italy, Montenegro, the Philippines, Macedonia, Great Britain, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Russia. During the programme, they addressed problems concerning the economics of education, financial institutions, the public sector, and the theory of industrial markets.

Among the experts at the school were Sara Fisher Ellison (MIT), Alexander Teitelboim (Oxford University), Koen Schoors (Ghent University), John Nye (George Mason University and HSE) and Maria Yudkevich (HSE).

In addition, Professor Ruben Enikolopov (NES) served as a guest lecturer this year. Using the example of his research, he talked about the pitfalls people encounter during natural experiments.

Traditionally, participants in the school not only listen to lectures by leading experts in the field of institutional economics, but they also present their own research projects, as well as share experiences with other participants and experts.

‘The main goal of the school is to give participants maximum feedback on what they are currently doing’, says Elena Podkolzina, one of the school’s organizers. ‘In the morning, the experts talk about the areas they are involved in, and the second half of the day is devoted completely to discussion of participants' projects. On the first day, the participants had three minutes to talk about the main idea of ​​their projects. After each short presentation, the other participants and experts shared their comments for 10 minutes. Those giving the presentation could not immediately respond to comments but instead had wait until their final ten-minute presentation on one of the last days; this presentation incorporates the advice received both during the initial presentation and in advisory sessions with experts. Most of the students in the school are graduate students who plan to enter PhD programmes or who are already studying in them, as well as those who recently secured post-doc positions. The opportunity to receive advice from renowned academics on how to improve research, how to better apply various techniques, which publications to read, who to ask for help, or which journal is the best for submitting an article – these are all topics that we offer, which we hope will benefit our students’.


Sara Ellison, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

My current research is on the used book market and how that has changed quite dramatically from when used books used to be purchased in small brick and mortar stores, to now, when most of the transactions on used books in the United States happen online, and searching for used books is much easier because of the online technology.

I was happy to receive the invitation to come teach here, and it’s been wonderful so far. The thing that I think is most fun about a setting like this is that the students all have very diverse interests.

One particular difference I’ve noticed is that a lot of students here are doing research project using data from HSE. It’s wonderful that HSE is willing to collect these data and provide them to the students; this opens a lot of different research opportunities. That’s not as common in the U.S. If one of my students wanted to use detailed data from MIT, I think they would have to go through a lot of bureaucratic hoops to get access to those data.


Koen Schoors, Ghent University

I came here because I’m very interested in Russia and I like to work with young scholars.  By being one of the teachers, you can improve their projects, give them ideas and see how these people get to know each other, how they create networks, how they work hard on the projects, but also have fun in the evenings – it’s a great experience. It’s useful for the students, because they are exposed to the international faculty and this faculty criticize them very hard, but also help them to improve the work. That is exactly the attitude you need in academic research: you need to deal with criticism, but also listen to advice and improve your work.

This year, I’m going to teach about financial markets and networks and how financial networks of banks, for example, can lead to contagion. The second thing I’m going to discuss is a very important topic around the world – the link between politics and banking.


Olga Ukhaneva, Georgetown University

 I just graduated from Georgetown University, where I got my PhD degree in Economics, and now I’m doing my post-doc at the McDonough School of Business. I heard about this school many times, and then a friend of mine recommended me to come here right before the workshops started.

I'm starting a new study on the impact of the internet on people's health, and I would be interested in receiving comments about it. We have good data on the U.S.; we see how people use the internet to find information about different diseases, how many times they went to a doctor or called an ambulance, whether they had surgery, and more.


Jason Alinsunurin, De La Salle University

I joined RSSIA because I am writing my PhD dissertation research proposal and hope I can get my paper published and get into a good PhD programme.

Maria Yudkevich gave a lecture on peer effects, which was very interesting. I think I can apply the model that she used, for example, in different organizations. Although her paper was on peer effects in education, I was thinking of doing research on groups of faculty members. I think that would be very useful.

At the end of the school, I will have a very good idea of what the top researchers are doing in their field. I think that is very important for young researchers like me.


Nicolo Ponterollo, University of Verona

I’m a regional economist; my field of interest is the development of the European Union. The European Union spends a lot of money in order to improve the less developed regions. However, the absorption of these finances depends on the institutional level of these regions. I’m here to try to understand the aspects of this topic and to understand the role of institutions with respect to development.

It’s also interesting to visit a new place – Russia and Moscow are new for me. It’s a stimulating country that’s very different from Italy.

As for my expectations, I think this summer school is useful for expanding my views and my horizons. Until now, I concentrated strictly on regional development, touching some arguments like the institutional level, but not going into the topic deeply.


Jasna Zarkovic, Montenegro, Erasmus Mundus Master’s Programme

I want to see how strategic planning of local economic development is going in Montenegro. Experience in strategic planning here is in a rather early stage, so I want to see how municipalities are doing it and what their experience is in preparing strategic plans.

I can learn a lot here, especially how to present the research that we are doing and to make it better. Yesterday, we received very honest comments on our research, and I think that’s really good. We learned how to present our research, to be stronger, and to direct our message in the right way.


Maria Kristina Alinsunurin, University of the Philippines Los Baños

I’m actively searching for PhD opportunities, and I think the summer school is a good venue for this. My research is on financial inclusion, which is to expand access to financial services, especially to low-income homes. It’s a pressing problem in the Philippines and not much research has been done yet. My research is about microfinance; however, financial inclusion is more than just microfinance – it’s basically the full range of financial services.

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