Mossavar-Rahmani Center announces Dunlop Undergraduate Thesis Prize winners

Sewon Park (left) and Claire Shi (right).

2021 winners of the Dunlop Undergraduate Thesis Prize, Sewon Park (left) and Claire Shi (right). Photo courtesy of Sewon Park and Claire Shi.

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The Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government (M-RCBG) at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government is pleased to announce two winners of the 2021 John T. Dunlop Prize in Business and Government.

Sewon Park won for her thesis, “Jobs Saved by the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): The Importance of Smaller Loans, Flexible Program Requirements, and Targeting.” She graduated from Harvard College in May with an A.B. in economics.

Her thesis examines the effect of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as a policy response to the economic fallout of COVID-19 that worked to keep small businesses afloat and minimize layoffs. Her research results explore why its ability to translate loans into employment is mixed and why the program had a magnified impact in areas with greater exposure to industries hit hardest by the pandemic.

Claire Shi won for her thesis, “A Story of Human Capital: Why the Paycheck Protection Program Had Huge Geographic Disparities.” She also graduated from Harvard College in May with an A.B. in applied math and economics.

Shi’s thesis also studies the PPP but explores how small business uptake of the program differs dramatically by geographic location. It examines how even though PPP was designed for COVID-19, the distribution of PPP loans was fundamentally about human capital and institutions rather than pandemic impact.

The John T. Dunlop Thesis Prize in Business and Government is awarded to graduating seniors who write the best thesis on a challenging public policy issue at the interface of business and government. Each prize carries a $1,000 award.

In explaining why the Center chose to award the John Dunlop Prize to Park and Shi this year, John A. Haigh, co-director of M-RCBG, said that their “theses are of significant interest to the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government. They were ambitious and well-executed, and particularly relevant post-pandemic … our review committee was impressed with the sophistication of their analyses.”

Honorable mentions were also awarded to Yashvardhan Bardoloi (“The Uncertain Cost of Uncertainty: An Inquiry into Exchange Rate Volatility and Bilateral Trade Flows”), Myer Johnson-Potter (“Congress at a Climate Crossroads: Legislative Pathways for Decarbonization in the United States”), and Keshav Rastogi (“The Effects of Experience and Technological Innovation in the Offshore Wind Industry”).