About Ellen Knowles

I’m a senior and I love our economics department here at UPS. I work as a course assistant for intro classes along with being a part of Undergraduate Women in Economics. Some of my favorite classes have been Public Policy, Gender and the Economy, and Game Theory.

Some Economic Wisdom on Wisdom Teeth

As a young woman my dad always told me when getting my oil changed never to buy any of the extra services they offer. Instead, he said I should tell him about it about it and he would talk to the mechanic about anything serious.  While this follows some harmful gender stereotypes it does highlight the asymmetric information between myself and the mechanic.  Although my dad is by no means a car expert, he at least knows a smidge more about cars to lessen this gap between the information that the seller and buyer have.  When the seller has more Continue reading Some Economic Wisdom on Wisdom Teeth

Learning about Sophie Kornick’s Thesis: Firm Size and the Gender Wage Gap

I sat down with senior Economics major, Sophie Kornick, to ask her about her thesis.   What did you do your senior thesis on? I examined if there was a correlation between firm size and the gender wage gap.   What did you expect to find? I thought that the gender wage gap would get bigger as the firm’s size got bigger.   What did you actually find? I was surprised to find that as firm size got bigger, the gender wage gap actually got smaller.   How did you get interested in this topic? I was in Andrew Monaco’s Continue reading Learning about Sophie Kornick’s Thesis: Firm Size and the Gender Wage Gap

Benefits and Costs of Over the Counter Birth Control

Female hormonal birth control and how people pay for it has been controversial throughout the years.  Just a few years ago the Supreme Court allowed Hobby Lobby and other companies to refrain from offering health insurance to their employees that covered the pill and other options if it their owners had religious objections.  This hurt many working women who relied on the insurance from their employer to cover costs for the pill, ring, IUD, patch, etc. So while many people argue over contraception for variety of reasons rooted in religion, health concerns, sexism, the economics of how it is paid Continue reading Benefits and Costs of Over the Counter Birth Control

DOA vs Magoo’s: A Coordination Model

Last Thursday students at the University of Puget Sound band together to boycott Magoo’s due to the increase in price of their beer pitchers from $5 to $6.50.  Dirty Oscar’s Annex instead proved to be the popular choice of the night and experienced an increase in customers. While the majority found themselves in the famous tater tot bar that is DOA, few were left out of the memo or stuck to their preferences and brought their business to Magoo’s.  Now that this Thursday has rolled around, loggers are left confused of where to go tonight. Previously posted this week on Continue reading DOA vs Magoo’s: A Coordination Model

The Economics of Magoo’s

Recently I logged onto Facebook to be greeted with a new page named, “Boycott Magoo’s.”  Magoo’s is a local college bar, famous for five dollar pitchers of beer that University of Puget Sound students would flock to go buy on Thursday nights.  Recently however, Magoo’s has decided to increase their prices by $1.50 so that a pitcher now costs a hefty $6.50. Students appalled by this stormed to social media to take action and posts followed such as the following which was found on the Facebook page by a fellow student, “Magoos has begun what will be their long reign Continue reading The Economics of Magoo’s

Does it Spark Utility?

Since her Netflix show “Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo has become famous for her KonMari method.  Marie Kondo has helped tidy households through her technique which places a high value on showing a deep gratitude for all of your belongings.  She urges people to keep only those items which spark joy. Things which do not spark joy are then thanked and discarded. When thinking of this method in terms of economics instead of asking if an item sparks joy, we can ask “does it spark utility?”  Utility is the term economists use to label the satisfaction or benefits consumers get from consuming Continue reading Does it Spark Utility?

To Wave or Not to Wave?

We have all been in a situation where we are unsure if we should wave at an acquaintance we see or to continue on with ourselves without waving. Whether this happens in the grocery store, on the street, or walking around your college campus it is all equally awkward and uncomfortable. There is that one moment, after you both make eye contact, that you must decide if you will send them a salutation or withhold. While we have all faced this we probably have not thought of this scenario through an economic lens, but we can use a game matrix Continue reading To Wave or Not to Wave?

Bad Classes Chase out Good Classes

Gresham’s Law is traditionally thought of when thinking about currencies.  The saying goes that “bad money chases out good money.” This phenomenon occurs when there are two forms of money with different values, but their face value is the same. While the money with lesser value will be used for transactions, the more valuable money is held onto until it disappears from circulation. Think of if the two options for money were plain old rocks or gold and both options were given the same face value. This means you could pay for ice cream with five rocks or five pieces Continue reading Bad Classes Chase out Good Classes

The Cobra Effect Strikes Again

People, especially economists, love incentives.  Incentives motivate people to do things. Even when one may feel like they have no control over those around them, they can create incentives in hopes of changing others’ behaviors.  The other day UPS incentivized seniors to attend the “Senior Class Gift Kickoff” by serving every attendee two beers and it worked. Not only did I see many classmates there but I even heard them say they would not have attended if they had not received free alcohol.  Further, if you actually donate to the senior class gift you get a special pin to wear Continue reading The Cobra Effect Strikes Again