106: Michael Kofoed on the Effectiveness of an Economics Major in the Military and How the Pomegranate Defunded the Taliban
Professor Kofoed’s research focuses on the economics of higher education including the effects of financial aid on student outcomes, pricing behavior of for-profit universities, and measuring the effects of randomly assigned peers and mentors.
Michael has numerous published and forthcoming papers and his book chapter “Price Discrimination”, co-authored with David Mustard, features in Encyclopedia of Education Economics and Finance.
Michael received his PhD from the University of Georgia with the PhD title Essays on the Economics of Student Financial Aid and a BS in Quantitaive Economics from Weber State University.
A good economist is not someone who sits around and reads econ books for a long time but someone who just reads. Gets out of their comfort zone. Reads about something that might be different than what they normally read but engages the economic mind while reading through that. – Michael Kofoed
In this episode, Michael discusses and mentions: rationality, opportunity costs, scarce resources, pay-offs, marginal benefit, labor market, equality, GDP, free trade and perfect competition.
In this episode you will learn:
- how students lose out on college financial aid up to the value of $2,000.
- the effect of same-gender and same-race role models on occupation choice.
- about US college financial aid and its business cycle.
- how a position in a US military academy can present opportunities to all including minorities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- how useful an economics major would be on the battlefield.
- what do you do with an economics degree after five years in the army and you realise the army is not for you.
- about national security through the lens of economics.
- about opportunity costs and the allocation of scarce resources.
- how the pomegranate defunded the Taliban.
- the conflict between economic logic, rationality and theory with reality.
- writing tips.
- and much more.
- Find something that you’re excited about. If you’re a grad student, it shouldn’t be about what your professor wants. It should be about what you want or else it’s just not going to be fun.
- Once you’ve found what makes you excited, ask yourself ‘Does anyone care?’. Is anyone going to read my stuff?’ If the answer is ‘Yes’ then you’ve hit a sweet spot because you care and other people care.
- The great secret of economics is that co-authorship is equally valued. Then go find co-authors that are smarter than you, because when they challenge and push you, they make you a better researcher.
- You need to get your writing out there. You don’t want to be Golum in The Lord of the Rings that sits there and strokes the precious and does’t let anyone else see the precious. You need to get other people to read it for you. You need to get it out in the conference circuit because when you have more eyes on it it will make you a better writer.
- Real research isn’t done in a closet somewhere. It’s done with other people. It’s a team effort.
- Planet Money: Episode 576: When Women Stopped Coding
- WSJ: Replacing Afghan Poppies With Pomegranates
- The Effect of the Business Cycle on Freshman Financial Aid (with Elizabeth Clelan) Contemporary Economic Policy.
- To Apply or Not to Apply: FAFSA Completion and Financial Aid Gaps. Research in Higher Education.
- Estimating the Effect of Work Time on Extracurricular Time for High School Students by Household Income (with Laura Crispin). Revise and Resubmit. Education Finance and Policy.
- Price Discrimination with David B. Mustard. In Encyclopedia of Education Economics and Finance, eds. Dominic J. Brewer and Lawrence O. Picus. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
- Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War by Robert Gates
- Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
- Free to Choose by Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman
- Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
- Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek
- The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels
- Seneca: Letters from a Stoic