Marco Onstenk

Portrait Marco Onstenk
The Master's is much more interactive.
Marco Onstenk
Economics, Behaviour and Policy
Study end date
Previous education
Bachelor Economics and Business Economics, Radboud University

Marco Onstenk is a Master's student in Economics and specializes in Economics, Behaviour and Policy.

"I was always interested in economic theory. Yet, many of the courses in the Economics Bachelor were based on abstract, often unrealistic models. Rationality was one of the main assumptions that continuously made its appearance throughout most courses. Since I was mostly interested in applications to for instace policy, I kind of disliked the 'unrealisticness' that underlied most courses.
My interest was mostly sparked by the course 'Behavioural Economics'. For that reason, I chose the master 'Economics, Behaviour and Policy'. Finally, we discussed many real world phenomena and their applications to policy. This specialisation has many interesting courses that addresses for instance the role of culture in economic decision making, the relevance of networks for policy, et cetera. This equips the students with many relevant tools for economic policy making, and adds much needed realism to economic models that I previously felt was lacking.

Unlike the Bachelor, where the lecturer often talked for the entire duration of a meeting, the Master's is much more interactive. This is exemplified by the relatively small group in the Economics, Behaviour and Policy specialisation, which is composed of roughly 10 students. As such, we often have in-class assignments and discussions with fellow students as well the lecturer. This makes the lectures much more interesting and personal, and allows you to actively participate and contribute. Of course, there are also more general courses (such as Methods of Empirical Analysis) where multiple specialisations follow the same course, making the group much large and are therefore less interactive.

In the Master's, you are generally more challenged than in the Bachelor's through the interactive assignments and discussions. Besides that, nearly every course requires you to, beside writing an exam, hand in a written assignment, e.g. a paper. This means that you are often busy doing a lot of different things at the same time, which, at first, can be quite overwhelming and challenging. Nonetheless, if you are truly motivated and dedicated it is of course very doable.

I am currently (still) in the beginning phase of writing my thesis. I want to write about the incorporation of behavioural insights in economic decision making. Specifically, I am looking into how these insights can be used to explain, predict and alter the phenomenon 'loss aversion'.

Economic policy is often aimed at changing people's behaviour. For that reason, it is very useful to know about e.g. human biases that are at the core of their economic decision making. Besides that, courses offer useful insights that must be kept in mind when making policy: as mentioned, for instance the role of networks and culture in (the effectiveness of) policy.
I hope to pursue a career at the Dutch government as a policymaker. My goal right now is to hopefully be permitted to a traineeship that will allow me to further develop my skills as a policymaker, and additionally allow me to gain valuable work experience by working at a ministry."