Portrait: Eva Davoine, graduate '21

Portrait: Eva Davoine, graduate '21

"Working on a pressing issue (Yellow Vest crisis) made me realize that research can genuinely influence policy"
  • Eva DavoineEva Davoine

Eva DAVOINE, just graduated from our Master's in Economics programme and will be heading off to the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley) next Fall to start her PhD. She wrote her dissertation on the Yellow Vest crisis under the supervision of Professors Yann ALGAN and Benjamin MARX. She also worked as a research assistant for an economist in the research group of the World Bank.

Why choose Economics? Why undertake a PhD? Why the United States? How did Eva define the subject of her dissertation? What advice would she give to the future doctoral students? As the academic year winds down, she was kind enough to answer a few questions of Sciences Po's School of Research. Interview.

What reasons led you to engage in a Master’s in Economics at Sciences Po?

E.D. : I followed a scientific curriculum in high school, and I discovered Economics during the Collège Universitaire at Sciences Po. I found the discipline fascinating. I particularly liked the class « Applied Macroeconomic: Economic Policies in Emerging Market Countries » which made me want to study in depth economics in developing countries. I therefore took all the economics classes that I could and majored in economics during my third year abroad in California. There, I discovered that economics was taught very differently in the United States, in a more applied way, which made me like the field even more. I therefore naturally decided to pursue my education in economics and engaged in a master’s in economics at Sciences Po.

How did you determine the subject of your master’s thesis?

E.D. : In December 2018 when I had to choose a subject, the Yellow Vest crisis had just started. At the time, I was working with Pr. Yann Algan, studying the trust crisis and its impact on the rise of populism in France and Europe. The ongoing mobilization sparked my interest. I decided to study the drivers of the Yellow Vest crisis. Working on a pressing issue made me realize that research can genuinely influence policy. After submitting my master’s thesis, I had the opportunity to pursue my research at the Conseil d’Analyse Économique (CAE) and was involved in writing a note addressed to the Prime Minister in which we were presenting recommendations to solve the crisis.

You just spent to years working at the World Bank Group. Can you tell us about this experience, especially in this particular context of health crisis?

E.D. : I loved it! I was working as a research assistant for an economist within the World Bank Research Group. I contributed to several academic papers. This experience was very enriching, even in the context of the health crisis. I consider myself very lucky as I had the chance to spend one full year in Washington DC and then to keep working from home in Paris close to my friends and family. Moreover, I found it very interesting to work in such an institution during this period. I witnessed the World Bank's actions to tackle the damages caused by the pandemic, such as making sure vaccines would be distributed in developing countries as well.

When did you decide to engage in a PhD? Why did you choose Berkeley University and the United States?

E.D. : I took a gap year between the two years of my master at Sciences Po and worked both with academic researchers at the World Bank and with operations (non-research) at UN Women. Experiencing both sides, I understood that I was more interested in understanding and analyzing the developing world than in managing the implementation of programs and projects there. The decision to pursue PhD studies therefore came naturally, as I was eager to do research and better understand the questions I studied at the World Bank. I chose to do it in the United States, at UC Berkeley, because of the outstanding conditions and resources the university offers. Yet, it wasn’t easy to decide to move so far from home for the next five/six years.

What career do you plan after the PhD?

E.D. : I would like to become an academic professor to keep doing research but also to pass on what I’ve learned to others and teach!

What advice would you give to students who hesitate to go for a PhD?

E.D. : During or after the master’s degree, I encourage them to take some time to try academic and non-academic jobs, just exactly as I did during my gap year. Working as a research assistant is a good way to realize if the research world appeals them or not! It’s also an experience that will definitely serve them in the future, especially if they decide to apply for PhDs.

Read the original interview on the Research School's website

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