3 Questions to Teodora Boneva

Teodora Boneva joined our Faculty at the beginning of April 2020 as an Assistant Professor of Economics of Child and Youth Development. She joined from her previous position as Associate Professor at the Department of Economics at the University of Oxford. Her research studies the role of beliefs in educational investment decisions and the role of educational interventions in fostering skills in childhood. She aims to improve our understanding of how we can promote skill acquisition and narrow socioeconomic and gender gaps in educational and labor market outcomes. 

What do you focus on in your research?

My research fields are Labor Economics and Behavioral Economics. I am particularly interested in the sources and consequences of socioeconomic inequality. For example, I study the role of beliefs in educational investment decisions. I use novel primary data sets and a variety of different research methods such as field experiments and survey-based techniques to understand which educational interventions can promote skill acquisition and narrow socioeconomic gaps in achievement. An important part of this work is to develop new survey methods to measure individual beliefs about the benefits of different educational investments made in the childhood period. Understanding how individuals make educational decisions is crucial for our understanding of how to promote skill acquisition. 

What would you like to convey to your students?

Economics is a fascinating social science that I feel very passionate about. In my role as a lecturer, it is my main goal to transmit this passion to my students. In pursuit of this goal, I strive to provide my students with a solid foundation of economic concepts and empirical techniques while at the same time cultivating their interest in economics as a science and an understanding of how we do economic science. In my lectures, I therefore strive to put theories into context, teach students how we can use empirical/experimental evidence to distinguish between theories, and how we can use the insights we gain to inform the public policy debate.

In the fall semester I will teach a new course on the topic of ‘Inequality’. I designed the course with several goals in mind. It is particularly important to me that by the end of the course students (i) will have acquired a thorough understanding of the key economic theories and concepts related to the topic of inequality as well as the context in which they were developed, (ii) will be able to critically assess different economic models in light of existing empirical/experimental evidence, (iii) will be able to understand how to derive testable predictions and to design empirical and/or experimental studies to distinguish between competing theories, and (iv) will be able to translate and apply their knowledge to real world problems.

What were the decisive factors for you to join the University of Zurich?

The fantastic Economics Department at the UZH.