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Today at the award ceremony held at Latvijas Banka, prizes were awarded to the winners of the 17th Competition of Student Scientific Research Papers.

No first prize was awarded in the Competition.

Two second prizes were awarded to the following students: 

Palina Tember and Elza Siliņa, the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, for the scientific research paper "Measuring Fiscal Policy Stance in Real Time and Ex Post in the European Union Member States", investigating the dependence of fiscal policy changes on the business cycle. The authors, using the data available during the budgeting period, have concluded that the fiscal policy is often cyclical. Meanwhile, it often becomes pro-cyclical when utilising the data available during the budgetary implementation. The difference lies in the inaccuracy of the output gap assessment when projecting the actual and potential dynamics of gross domestic product in an imprecise manner.

Onufrii Lonevskyi and Kristijonas Klimaitis, the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, for their paper "The Twin Deficits Hypothesis in the Eastern European Group: an Empirical Investigation", examining whether there is a correlation between a government deficit and current account deficit in Eastern European countries. The authors conclude that this correlation is positive and statistically significant in economies in transition, while there is no correlation in developed countries.

The third prize was awarded to three Competition papers.  

Andriana Neamtu, the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, for her paper "The Efficiency of Public Healthcare Spending in Latvia", analysing the efficiency of the government expenditure for healthcare in Latvia as compared to other OECD countries. The author concludes that irrespective of the comparatively high interim results achieved by Latvia (the number of hospital beds/physicians/nurses per capita) with relatively low spending, the interim results do not automatically mean increased life expectancy, suggesting that the system's efficiency is low. Overall, Latvia could increase life expectancy by almost six years through greater efficiency of the healthcare system and healthier lifestyles.

Simona Alksne and Reinis Frēlihs, the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, for their paper "Universal Basic Income: a step towards equality or government's insolvency?  The case of Latvia". Taking account of the high income inequality indicators in Latvia, the authors have studied the potential impact of the introduction of a universal basic income (UBI) on inequality, poverty and budgetary figures. The key conclusions of the paper suggest that the most efficient scenarios for reducing income inequality and poverty are also the costliest ones. However, some UBI calibration features improve the concept's efficiency without involving high costs, including the extension of the range of UBI beneficiaries to pensioners.

Dainis Bass and Kristofers Kugrēns, the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, for the paper "The Effect of Regional Typology and Contexts on Performance of EU-Supported Projects Implemented by Companies in Latvia". The authors have assessed the impact of EU-supported projects on the reduction of regional inequalities in Latvia. The results obtained suggest that project performance is more successful in regions whose assessment is more positive. The results often show that projects in weaker regions initially perform better. However, over time, projects in stronger regions overtake those in weaker ones. Thus, it has been concluded that the effect of EU funds on the reduction of regional inequalities is temporary.

The consolation prize has been awarded to Toms Birzulis and Edgars Indriksons, the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, for the paper "Deceitful Spenders: Examining the Existence of Political Budget Cycles in Latvia". The authors have used the publicly available Treasury data on local government budgets to examine whether there are political budget cycles at the level of local governments in Latvia. The paper results show that despite short-term fluctuations observed in budgetary positions of local governments in the run-up to the elections, there is no evidence suggesting that an expansionary fiscal policy was used to manipulate with voters in the pre-election period.

Ilmārs Rimšēvičs, Governor of Latvijas Banka, extended a warm welcome to the participants of the event: "In our opinion, the Competition plays a very valuable role in macroeconomic research and its quality enhancement. The Competition has a strong coverage of the euro area, Europe and the Baltics this year. However, several papers, including the ones focusing on Latvia, actually address topical issues of global concern."

The authors of the papers winning awards received money prizes and the collector coin "500 Years of the Riga Castle".

In academic year 2018/2019, Latvijas Banka organised its annual 17th Competition of Student Scientific Research Papers, inviting students from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia who at the time of the Competition are registered as students of bachelor or master programmes of higher educational institutions accredited in the Baltic States as well as inhabitants of the Baltic States studying abroad to participate in it. 30 economic and financial topics were proposed for the competition.

14 papers were submitted to the competition this year – one more than last year. Moreover, the quality of the submitted papers and that of the awarded ones in particular, is high as has been the practice over the past years. Authors are 20 students (some papers have two authors) from four higher educational institutions of Latvia (the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, the University of Latvia, the Riga Technical University and Latvia University of Agriculture) and the University of Tartu in Estonia.

More detailed information on the competition is available at: https://www.makroekonomika.lv/konkursi/zinatniski-petniecisko-darbu-konkurss.

Today the competition materials shall be published on the websites of Latvijas Banka at bank.lv and macroeconomics.lv.