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research paper topics finance and economics

  • 18 Jun 2024
  • Cold Call Podcast

How Natural Winemaker Frank Cornelissen Innovated While Staying True to His Brand

In 2018, artisanal Italian vineyard Frank Cornelissen was one of the world’s leading producers of natural wine. But when weather-related conditions damaged that year’s grapes, founder Frank Cornelissen had to decide between staying true to the tenets of natural wine making or breaking with his public beliefs to save that year’s grapes by adding sulfites. Harvard Business School assistant professor Tiona Zuzul discusses the importance of staying true to your company’s principles while remaining flexible enough to welcome progress in the case, Frank Cornelissen: The Great Sulfite Debate.

research paper topics finance and economics

  • Research & Ideas

Central Banks Missed Inflation Red Flags. This Pricing Model Could Help.

The steep inflation that plagued the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic took many economists by surprise. But research by Alberto Cavallo suggests that a different method of tracking prices—a real-time model—could predict future surges better.

research paper topics finance and economics

What Your Non-Binary Employees Need to Do Their Best Work

How can you break down gender boundaries and support the non-binary people on your team better? A study by Katherine Coffman reveals the motivations and aspirations of non-binary employees, highlighting the need for greater inclusion to unlock the full potential of a diverse workforce.

research paper topics finance and economics

  • 04 Jun 2024

How One Insurtech Firm Formulated a Strategy for Climate Change

The Insurtech firm Hippo was facing two big challenges related to climate change: major loss ratios and rate hikes. The company used technologically empowered services to create its competitive edge, along with providing smart home packages, targeting risk-friendly customers, and using data-driven pricing. But now CEO and president Rick McCathron needed to determine how the firm’s underwriting model could account for the effects of high-intensity weather events. Harvard Business School professor Lauren Cohen discusses how Hippo could adjust its strategy to survive a new era of unprecedented weather catastrophes in his case, “Hippo: Weathering the Storm of the Home Insurance Crisis.”

research paper topics finance and economics

  • 22 Apr 2024

When Does Impact Investing Make the Biggest Impact?

More investors want to back businesses that contribute to social change, but are impact funds the only approach? Research by Shawn Cole, Leslie Jeng, Josh Lerner, Natalia Rigol, and Benjamin Roth challenges long-held assumptions about impact investing and reveals where such funds make the biggest difference.

research paper topics finance and economics

  • 23 Jan 2024

More Than Memes: NFTs Could Be the Next Gen Deed for a Digital World

Non-fungible tokens might seem like a fad approach to selling memes, but the concept could help companies open new markets and build communities. Scott Duke Kominers and Steve Kaczynski go beyond the NFT hype in their book, The Everything Token.

research paper topics finance and economics

  • 12 Sep 2023

How Can Financial Advisors Thrive in Shifting Markets? Diversify, Diversify, Diversify

Financial planners must find new ways to market to tech-savvy millennials and gen Z investors or risk irrelevancy. Research by Marco Di Maggio probes the generational challenges that advisory firms face as baby boomers retire. What will it take to compete in a fintech and crypto world?

research paper topics finance and economics

  • 17 Aug 2023

‘Not a Bunch of Weirdos’: Why Mainstream Investors Buy Crypto

Bitcoin might seem like the preferred tender of conspiracy theorists and criminals, but everyday investors are increasingly embracing crypto. A study of 59 million consumers by Marco Di Maggio and colleagues paints a shockingly ordinary picture of today's cryptocurrency buyer. What do they stand to gain?

research paper topics finance and economics

  • 17 Jul 2023

Money Isn’t Everything: The Dos and Don’ts of Motivating Employees

Dangling bonuses to checked-out employees might only be a Band-Aid solution. Brian Hall shares four research-based incentive strategies—and three perils to avoid—for leaders trying to engage the post-pandemic workforce.

research paper topics finance and economics

  • 20 Jun 2023

Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover: Lessons in Strategic Change

In late October 2022, Elon Musk officially took Twitter private and became the company’s majority shareholder, finally ending a months-long acquisition saga. He appointed himself CEO and brought in his own team to clean house. Musk needed to take decisive steps to succeed against the major opposition to his leadership from both inside and outside the company. Twitter employees circulated an open letter protesting expected layoffs, advertising agencies advised their clients to pause spending on Twitter, and EU officials considered a broader Twitter ban. What short-term actions should Musk take to stabilize the situation, and how should he approach long-term strategy to turn around Twitter? Harvard Business School assistant professor Andy Wu and co-author Goran Calic, associate professor at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business, discuss Twitter as a microcosm for the future of media and information in their case, “Twitter Turnaround and Elon Musk.”

research paper topics finance and economics

  • 06 Jun 2023

The Opioid Crisis, CEO Pay, and Shareholder Activism

In 2020, AmerisourceBergen Corporation, a Fortune 50 company in the drug distribution industry, agreed to settle thousands of lawsuits filed nationwide against the company for its opioid distribution practices, which critics alleged had contributed to the opioid crisis in the US. The $6.6 billion global settlement caused a net loss larger than the cumulative net income earned during the tenure of the company’s CEO, which began in 2011. In addition, AmerisourceBergen’s legal and financial troubles were accompanied by shareholder demands aimed at driving corporate governance changes in companies in the opioid supply chain. Determined to hold the company’s leadership accountable, the shareholders launched a campaign in early 2021 to reject the pay packages of executives. Should the board reduce the executives’ pay, as of means of improving accountability? Or does punishing the AmerisourceBergen executives for paying the settlement ignore the larger issue of a business’s responsibility to society? Harvard Business School professor Suraj Srinivasan discusses executive compensation and shareholder activism in the context of the US opioid crisis in his case, “The Opioid Settlement and Controversy Over CEO Pay at AmerisourceBergen.”

research paper topics finance and economics

  • 16 May 2023
  • In Practice

After Silicon Valley Bank's Flameout, What's Next for Entrepreneurs?

Silicon Valley Bank's failure in the face of rising interest rates shook founders and funders across the country. Julia Austin, Jeffrey Bussgang, and Rembrand Koning share key insights for rattled entrepreneurs trying to make sense of the financing landscape.

research paper topics finance and economics

  • 27 Apr 2023

Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi: Transforming Lives with Access to Credit

James Mwangi, CEO of Equity Bank, has transformed lives and livelihoods throughout East and Central Africa by giving impoverished people access to banking accounts and micro loans. He’s been so successful that in 2020 Forbes coined the term “the Mwangi Model.” But can we really have both purpose and profit in a firm? Harvard Business School professor Caroline Elkins, who has spent decades studying Africa, explores how this model has become one that business leaders are seeking to replicate throughout the world in her case, “A Marshall Plan for Africa': James Mwangi and Equity Group Holdings.” As part of a new first-year MBA course at Harvard Business School, this case examines the central question: what is the social purpose of the firm?

research paper topics finance and economics

  • 25 Apr 2023

Using Design Thinking to Invent a Low-Cost Prosthesis for Land Mine Victims

Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS) is an Indian nonprofit famous for creating low-cost prosthetics, like the Jaipur Foot and the Stanford-Jaipur Knee. Known for its patient-centric culture and its focus on innovation, BMVSS has assisted more than one million people, including many land mine survivors. How can founder D.R. Mehta devise a strategy that will ensure the financial sustainability of BMVSS while sustaining its human impact well into the future? Harvard Business School Dean Srikant Datar discusses the importance of design thinking in ensuring a culture of innovation in his case, “BMVSS: Changing Lives, One Jaipur Limb at a Time.”

research paper topics finance and economics

  • 18 Apr 2023

What Happens When Banks Ditch Coal: The Impact Is 'More Than Anyone Thought'

Bank divestment policies that target coal reduced carbon dioxide emissions, says research by Boris Vallée and Daniel Green. Could the finance industry do even more to confront climate change?

research paper topics finance and economics

The Best Person to Lead Your Company Doesn't Work There—Yet

Recruiting new executive talent to revive portfolio companies has helped private equity funds outperform major stock indexes, says research by Paul Gompers. Why don't more public companies go beyond their senior executives when looking for top leaders?

research paper topics finance and economics

  • 11 Apr 2023

A Rose by Any Other Name: Supply Chains and Carbon Emissions in the Flower Industry

Headquartered in Kitengela, Kenya, Sian Flowers exports roses to Europe. Because cut flowers have a limited shelf life and consumers want them to retain their appearance for as long as possible, Sian and its distributors used international air cargo to transport them to Amsterdam, where they were sold at auction and trucked to markets across Europe. But when the Covid-19 pandemic caused huge increases in shipping costs, Sian launched experiments to ship roses by ocean using refrigerated containers. The company reduced its costs and cut its carbon emissions, but is a flower that travels halfway around the world truly a “low-carbon rose”? Harvard Business School professors Willy Shih and Mike Toffel debate these questions and more in their case, “Sian Flowers: Fresher by Sea?”

research paper topics finance and economics

Is Amazon a Retailer, a Tech Firm, or a Media Company? How AI Can Help Investors Decide

More companies are bringing seemingly unrelated businesses together in new ways, challenging traditional stock categories. MarcAntonio Awada and Suraj Srinivasan discuss how applying machine learning to regulatory data could reveal new opportunities for investors.

research paper topics finance and economics

  • 07 Apr 2023

When Celebrity ‘Crypto-Influencers’ Rake in Cash, Investors Lose Big

Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan, and other entertainers have been accused of promoting crypto products on social media without disclosing conflicts. Research by Joseph Pacelli shows what can happen to eager investors who follow them.

research paper topics finance and economics

  • 31 Mar 2023

Can a ‘Basic Bundle’ of Health Insurance Cure Coverage Gaps and Spur Innovation?

One in 10 people in America lack health insurance, resulting in $40 billion of care that goes unpaid each year. Amitabh Chandra and colleagues say ensuring basic coverage for all residents, as other wealthy nations do, could address the most acute needs and unlock efficiency.

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National Bureau of Economic Research

Latest from the nber, a research summary from the monthly nber digest.

Weather Forecasts and Farming Practices in India Figure

Weather Forecasts and Farming Practices in India

Climate change is making weather patterns around the world more volatile, increasing risks for farmers. Providing farmers with accurate weather forecasts is one possible strategy for mitigating these risks. In Long-Range Forecasts as Climate Adaptation: Experimental Evidence from Developing-Country Agriculture (NBER Working Paper 32173), Fiona Burlig , Amir Jina , Erin M. Kelley , Gregory Lane , and Harshil Sahai report on a randomized trial in Indian villages that provided some farmers with a forecast of when the annual monsoon would begin. Farmers respond to news about monsoon...

From the NBER Bulletin on Health

Early-Life Lead Exposure and Old-Age Longevity Figure

Early-Life Lead Exposure and Old-Age Longevity

In the early decades of the twentieth century, many American cities installed municipal water systems. A wide range of materials were used for pipes, but lead was a common choice due to its durability, ease of installation, and relatively low incidence of leaks. In Toxified to the Bone: Early-Life and Childhood Exposure to Lead and Men’s Old-Age Mortality (NBER Working Paper 31957), Jason Fletcher and Hamid Noghanibehambari show that the use of lead pipes in these systems had detrimental effects on long-term health among residents of affected cities. 

From the NBER Reporter: Research, program, and conference summaries

Unemployment in Informal Labor Markets in Developing Countries Figure

Unemployment in Informal Labor Markets in Developing Countries

Developing countries typically exhibit low rates of rural wage employment. For example, in India, male workers whose primary source of earnings is wage labor report working on only 46 percent of days per year. Bangladesh has a similarly low 55 percent rate of employment among landless males, and the rates are even lower in sub-Saharan Africa.

From the NBER Bulletin on Entrepreneurship

 Immigration Policy and Entrepreneurs’ Choice of Startup Location figure

Immigration Policy and Entrepreneurs’ Choice of Startup Location

Immigrants play a significant role in the entrepreneurial landscape. In the United States, immigrants are 80 percent more likely to start businesses than native-born Americans. More than half of America's billion-dollar startup companies trace their roots to immigrant founders. There is limited research, however, on the factors that influence immigrants' decisions about where to locate their startup businesses. 

From the NBER Bulletin on Retirement and Disability

Social Security and Retirement around the World

Social Security and Retirement around the World

Over the past 25 years, labor force participation at older ages has increased dramatically. In the 12 countries that are part of the NBER’s International Social Security (ISS) project, participation among those aged 60 to 64 has risen by an average of over 20 percentage points for men and over 25 percentage points for women.

Featured Working Papers

Using New York State data from 2011 through 2021,  Coleman Drake ,  Dylan Nagy ,  Matthew D. Eisenberg , and  David Slusky find that medical cannabis availability reduced the number of past-month self-reported poor mental health days by 3.4 percentage points – a drop of about one tenth – among adults 65 and above.

In business environments dominated by information flows and autonomous tasks, the productivity gains from high levels of trust among employees are stronger than elsewhere, while strict hiring and firing regulations are more damaging, according to research by  Gilbert Cette ,  Jimmy Lopez ,  Jacques Mairesse , and  Giuseppe Nicoletti .

A randomized controlled trial of different approaches to teaching math, involving about 4,000 students in two large school districts, shows that strategic use of technology can increase the scalability of high dosage tutoring,   Monica P. Bhatt ,  Jonathan Guryan ,  Salman A. Khan ,  Michael LaForest-Tucker , and  Bhavya Mishra find.

Using nearly 75 years of data on survey forecasts of real GDP growth expectations,  William N. Goetzmann ,  Akiko Watanabe , and  Masahiro Watanabe  find that procyclical stocks, whose returns comove with business cycles, earn higher average returns than their countercyclical peers.  

After the 2002 Argentinean devaluation,  Andrés Blanco ,  Andrés Drenik , and  Emilio Zaratiegui find that households at the bottom of the income distribution recovered faster than those at the top, in part because of low mobility and lack of union coverage among higher-income workers.

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Through a partnership with the University of Chicago Press, the NBER publishes the proceedings of four annual conferences as well as other research studies associated with NBER-based research projects.

Research Spotlights

NBER researchers discuss their work on subjects of wide interest to economists, policymakers, and the general public. Recordings of more-detailed presentations, keynote addresses, and panel discussions at NBER conferences are available on the  Lectures  page.

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Professor Claudia Goldin awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2023

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The large number of professors and their diverse interests enable a student to study virtually any area of economics.  The extraordinary quality of Harvard undergraduates makes the classroom environment stimulating for teacher and student alike.

research paper topics finance and economics

Supported by a diverse group of faculty who are top researchers in their fields and fueled by a vast array of resources, the PhD program is structured to train and nurture students to become leading economists in academia, government agencies, the technology industry, finance and banking, and global policy organizations.

At a Glance

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The Department of Economics is part of the larger academe of teaching and research at Harvard University.

Faculty Spotlight

The Harvard economics department is a big tent – big enough to include many kinds of people working in many different fields, from finance to economic history, from behavioral economics to political economy, and so much more.  Our students and faculty combine these fields in creative ways that are hard to achieve anywhere else.

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Morton l. and carole s. olshan professor of economics, news and events, professor david cutler awarded the 2024 william b. graham prize for health services research.

Professor David Cutler , Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics, was awarded this year's William B. Graham Prize for Health Services Research.  This award is granted to "an individual who has significantly increased the quality of or access to health service delivery worldwide through the development of insights and innovations that have (a) eliminated barriers to the education and prevention of noncommunicable diseases; (b) highlighted the...

Senior Economics Winners Announced

Senior prize winners (l to r): hemanth asirvatham, aden barton, sara moore, jay garg.

Kunal Sangani

Kunal Sangani awarded Padma Desai Prize

Econ 3012 graduate student workshop in labor economics and public economics, location: .

Stephanie Kestelman (Harvard University)

Fiona Chen (Harvard University)... Read more about ECON 3012 Graduate Student Workshop in Labor Economics and Public Economics

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Martin Koenen (Harvard University)... Read more about ECON 3012 Graduate Student Workshop in Labor Economics and Public Economics

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Contact:  Ursula Ferraro /  [email protected] Directions to  Littauer Center

Fields of Study

research paper topics finance and economics

The study of the application of using hypothetical quantitative economic models.

research paper topics finance and economics

Political Economy

The study of production and trade and their relations with law, custom and government; and with the distribution of national income and wealth.

research paper topics finance and economics


The study of developing and using statistical and mathematical tools to analyze economic issues and policy questions.


The study of the national economy and the determinants of national production, unemployment, and inflation.

research paper topics finance and economics

Economic History

The study of how economies and economic outcomes have changed over history and how economic institutions have developed. 

International Economics

The study of the effects upon economic activity from international differences in productive resources and consumer preferences and the international institutions that affect them. 

Behavioral Economics

The study of the cognitive and emotional dimensions of economic decisions.

research paper topics finance and economics

An Overview of the Discipline

Finance is the study of how people and companies obtain and use their capital and what factors influence their decisions. Finance focuses on how individual investors and firms manage their funds in the face of a constantly-changing business environment.

Subdisciplines include:

Writing in the discipline.

The goal of finance is to create the best possible approximations for market behaviors.

The discipline of finance:

Note that all subdisciplines work together to establish a comprehensive model that can explain and predict market behavior with minimal error.

Writing in finance can be either single-authored or co-authored.

Professor Richard Herring observes, "Research can be conducted in either collaboratively or individually depending on preferences of the researcher and the nature of the project. I personally like collaborating - it is stimulating to work with others who approach financial topics in different ways. Writing is an opportunity to learn."

Financial research usually involves identifying a problem or area of interest and exploring it, with the aim of finding a potential resolution. While empirically based, the discipline also depends on a set of reasonable assumptions.

Professor Jessica Wachter notes, "My goal in a research paper is usually to explain some aspect of various data that was previously mysterious or unexplored."

Professor Herring, in turn, observes, "I try to raise the level of public discussion and debate on numerous policy issues that are addressed in my research by presenting new evidence or a new way of analyzing the problem."

Reasoning and Evidence

The discipline of finance bases its reasoning predominantly on quantitative data. Mathematical reasoning is crucial in this field.

Explanatory vs. Justificatory

Academic writing: scholarly articles, professional writing, types of evidence, empirical evidence (data-based) is used for:, theoretical evidence (text-based) is used for:.

Professor Wachter explains, "My research is neither strictly data-based nor text-based, but rather model-based with a data component. We use evidence to show whether a proposed model can account for statistical measures. These measures are calculated empirically using data provided by Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS)."

Professor Allen observes that "good empirical data is always regarded as legitimate while theoretical calculations receive more scrutiny."

For more information see: Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS)

Writing Tips

The writing process.

The writing process usually begins with the observation of some phenomenon that leads to the development of a hypothesis. This observation typically comes as the result of extensive reading by the researcher. Once the hypothesis is established with sufficient quantitative data to support it, the write-up can begin. Articles undergo at least three to five drafts, with more drafts common when an article covers extensive mathematical proofs requiring constant revision.

Common Errors

The most serious mistake students make is to provide inadequate evidence to support their propositions. Another common and substantial error is the failure to articulate ideas clearly.

"Students in the field typically have strong analytical skills but need improvement in their communication and writing abilities," says Professor Richard Herring.

Of secondary importance are errors in spelling, grammar, coherence, and differentiating between active and passive verbs.

Articles in the discipline typically follow the style of the Journal of Finance. Professor Richard Herring recommends that students use the Chicago Style Manual to strengthen their understanding of the use of active and passive voice.

Student Assignments

In his International Banking course, Professor Richard Herring requires students find a recent news article that addresses a topic raised in lecture. Students then write two paragraphs elaborating the connection and take a position on the topic, combining explanatory and justificatory reasoning. The brevity of the assignment encourages concision and provides practice for students in communicating analysis and evaluation in their writing on financial topics.

Professors may also assign case studies. Case study analysis is written in narrative form and employs justificatory reasoning. Its proposition proposes a solution selected from various alternatives. The emphasis throughout is on clear, concise writing: active verbs, clarity of ideas, problem definition, and recommendation.

Professor Herring notes, "I assume that most of my students are going into some sort of business, and while I hope that some will do research, I want to ensure that they can write a good financial memo at the very least. The skills that are required for this involve concision, persuasion, and the ability to stick to and defend a position."

Professional Writing

Click on the professor links to view examples of professional writing in this discipline.

Meet the Professors

Richard Herring is the Jacob Safra Professor of International Banking and a Professor of Finance at the Wharton School. He received his A.B. from Oberlin College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University. More...

Jessica Wachter is a Professor of Finance at the Wharton School. She received her A.B. and Ph.D. from Harvard University and previously served at the Stern School of Business at New York University. Dr. Wachter specializes in financial economics and has worked on projects ranging from long-horizon equity to consumption-based interest term models. More...

Franklin Allen is the Nippon Life Professor of Finance at the Wharton School. He received his M.Phil. and D.Phil. from the University of Oxford. His research interests include the areas of corporate finance, asset pricing, and economics of information. More...

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