Econometric Game 2018

Casper Hoogenboom, Pepyn van Haaften
25 April 2018

General information 

Econometric Game

Every year, the University of Amsterdam hosts the Econometric Game, one of the most prestigious projects organized by the study association for Actuarial Science, Econometrics & Operational Research (VSAE) of the University of Amsterdam. The participating universities are selected and expected to send delegations of four students majoring in econometrics or relevant studies with a maximum of two PhD students. The teams will be given a case study, which they will have to resolve in two days. After these two days, the ten teams with the best solutions will continue to the third day. On the third day, the finalists have to solve the second case. The solutions will be reviewed by a jury of qualified and independent professors and they will announce the winner of the Game during the award ceremony on Friday.

For the past nineteen years, the event has evolved from a one-day city contest between the University of Amsterdam and the VU University Amsterdam into an international three-day competition. During the Econometric Game, Amsterdam is proud to host teams from the world’s best universities in the field of econometrics. The competition challenges the most talented econometricians to think outside the box in order to solve existing, as well as new, societal problems. Over the years the event has grown and obtained worldwide attention, and respect, because of the challenging content and its uniqueness. It has also come to be recommended by several distinguished professors in the field. The Econometric Game differentiates itself by assembling 30 universities worldwide who then show the world that econometrics is more than just number crunching to solve financial problems. 

Key Facts:

  • 120 PhD & master students from all around the world;
  • All continents represented; 
  • 30 participating universities i.e. Harvard (2017 & 2016 winner), Oxford and Cambridge.
  • 1 year preparations;
  • 7 committee members;
  • 1500 sandwiches;
  • 500 meals;
  • 19th edition;
  • 7 supporting partners;


Econometrics is applied at the Econometric Game to challenge a variety of problems, ranging from poverty analysis to the effect of maternal use of alcohol during the pregnancy on the infants’ cognitive outcomes. Aside from academically challenging, the cases are also socially relevant. This year's case revolved around the topic of the economics of happiness. The central question was: ‘What is the multiplier between the detrimental effect of unemployment on the wellbeing of the individual who is unemployed and the total effect of that person’s unemployment on the wellbeing of the group as a whole.’ 

Daily report by Casper Hoogenboom

Wednesday - Opening & case

On behalf of this year's committee, I was honoured to welcome all the participants, as well as all our partners, to the nineteenth edition of the Econometric Game in Kriterion during the opening. It is truly inspiring to see 120 of the best students in econometrics from all over the world coming together to compete in this event. This year's case revolved around the topic of the economics of happiness.

Thursday – Amsterdam Data Challenge (ADC)
While the Econometric Game participants started working for the second day on the case, their younger fellow econometricians started working on the Amsterdam Data Challenge case. The Amsterdam Data Challenge is a challenging side event during the Econometric Game, where a group of 24 students from Dutch universities are selected by their resume to participate. This year the case revolved around the topic of how Airbnb is affecting the housing sector in Amsterdam. During the day a challenging case had to be resolved using data science techniques. At the end of the day, the participants pitched their outcomes and a jury of qualified and independent professors reviewed the outcomes and announced the winner during the dinner and drinks later that day. The Amsterdam Data Challenge is a unique event in the way that it gives bachelor, master and even PhD students the opportunity to experience the Econometric Game.


A piece from the Amsterdam Data Challenge magazine:


Multiple side events are organized during the Econometric Game besides the World Championship itself. The Amsterdam Data Challenge is the ultimate opportunity for local students to participate in this event. On Thursday, April 12th, a total of 24 students got the opportunity to show their skills when solving a challenging case study. The ADC took, like the Econometric Game itself, place in the Zuiderkerk. This is the same place as the one in which the Econometric Game was held. This enabled students to get a taste of the Econometric Game and allowed for a motivating environment. The students were, however, closed off from the other students by a glass wall and curtains so one group did not disturb the other.

The case
The broad subject of the case of the ADC was the housing market in Amsterdam. Students aimed to find the main factors that drive up the housing prices in Amsterdam. This can for example be done by comparison to other cities or by looking at what factors that we know influence the housing price has changed over the last couple of years. Over the last couple of years, the housing prices in Amsterdam have been rising. As an effect, mostly the middle-class starters are affected at the moment. The low-income group is often supported through various measures. Students are also affected, and it is more and more often the case that they are not able to find housing in Amsterdam so that they either stay with their parents, whenever this is possible, or move to the cities around Amsterdam. An interesting topic regarding the rising housing prices is the upcoming presence of AirBNB and other vacation rentals in the city centre (within “de Ring”). According to a study of the ING in 2016, one out of 6 residents in the centre already rents out their home or parts of it via AirBNB. This can then be done for 60 days per year for an average of 131 euros. This yields 655 euros per month and would allow those homeowners to spend significantly more money, thus driving up the housing prices. During the ADC, students were asked to quantify this result and the impact it has on the housing market.


Friday – Final & exploring Amsterdam & winners
On the third day, the 10 finalist teams started working on a new case. In the final round, the case revolved about how the effects of the unemployment of one person on others are mediated. The other 80 participants, who did not make it to the final round, explored the city of Amsterdam by a boat trip. At the end of the day, the finalists pitched their outcomes for the jury at the University of Amsterdam. Later that day, the winners of the Econometric Game 2018 were announced during the award ceremony at Calf & Bloom. Carlos III de Madrid won the Econometric Game 2018 with their report on "About the Transmission Channels of Unemployment Rate on Individual Happiness".

Find more information about the winners, cases and findings on

Casper Hoogenboom 
Chairman Econometric Game Committee 2018