PhDiaries

September 1, 2016

Dear readers,

 

From September 1st I, Thijs Brouwer, will start a PhD in Economics at Tilburg University. By means of this (research) blog, I intend to keep you up-to-date on my adventures as a PhD student. I intentionally put research between parentheses, as I hope to answer more than just the, rather impolite, question of how research is going... This debutant post serves an introductory purpose.

 

I was born 24 years a go in the scenic middle-sized town of Nijmegen, in the East of the Netherlands. Growing up in the middle of the city center made that I had a fairly vibrant youth; it was never quiet around the house. After having finished high school in 2010, I started my bachelor program Economics and Business Economics at Tilburg University. Now, six years later and a Bachelor and Research Master degree richer, I still reside in this student town in the Southern Netherlands. I've always enjoyed my time at the university. Courses in Tilburg are generally taught in small classes, which ensures plenty of personal attention from tutors and professors. Combining this with a healthy research climate and the laid-back vibe that is particular to this part of the country results in an attractive environment to live in.

 

My research focuses on the field of Behavioral Economics, which incorporates insights from social psychology to reach more appropriate economic theories that better explain the behavior of people, firms and governments. Particular topics that interest me are individuals' lying and cheating behavior, the way people perceive chance (the so-called law of small numbers), social dilemmas, and economics of sports. For my Master Thesis, I combined these latter two topics and studied breakaway groups in cycling races. Though competitors, the members of these breakaways have to work together in order to reach the finish first. This gives rise to a social dilemma in which every single rider has an incentive to shirk. Yet, the group is best off if all riders put in as much effort as possible. I show that group size, strength and heterogeneity, stage profile, and race type are important determinants of cooperation and breakaway success. As I'm currently trying to publish it, I hope to touch upon my thesis in this blog again in the future.

 

It'll be the first goal of my PhD, which I officially start today. The transition from Research Master to graduate student is not yet completed, but at least I'm in my office now. It's the first step of a four-year journey.

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