Michael Maschek, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of the Fraser Valley

Michael Maschek has earned a B.A.(honors) in economics from Simon Fraser University (1999), an M.A. from the University of British Columbia (2000), and his Ph.D. from Simon Fraser University (2005).

Michael’s current research focuses on the application and dynamics of adaptive models of human behaviour in economics. Despite its near universal acceptance, the Rational Expectations Hypothesis continues to be controversial. Many researchers believe that it rests on implausible informational assumptions. As an alternative, models of learning and adaptation have gained in importance over the last decade. These are models that depart from traditional economic theory and assume bounded rationality of economic agents. Economies are inhabited by heterogeneous, interacting agents who have to learn about their environment and, based on their learning, update their beliefs and strategies in order to make economic decisions. The updating of beliefs and the resulting decisions, in turn, affect the economic outcomes. The interactions between agents and economic environment often result in nonlinear self-referential systems with complex and interesting dynamics.

These models have been able to capture some important features of behaviour observed in the experimental laboratories with human subjects that traditional theory has not been able to account for. In addition, they can explain some of the important empirical facts about the behaviour of economic time series that traditional theory could not capture. Some of the most prominent findings have been the ones that raised serious questions about traditional behavioural assumptions of economics. Behavioural economic findings are also being used in various applied areas, such as finance and law. They have been shown to be of importance to environmental issues. These have included demonstrations that people value losses, such as environmental losses, much more than objectively commensurate gains, and weaknesses in current methods of assessing the economic value of environmental changes.

Michael continues to serve as a senior researcher with the Centre for Research in Adaptive Behaviour in Economics [CRABE]; a research group housed in the Department of Economics of Simon Fraser University. The centre establishes and maintains facilities, materials, personnel and other resources dedicated to the study, teaching and practice of behavioural economics. It’s primary purpose is to develop behavioural models of learning and adaptation in areas including game theory, mechanism design, organization theory, macroeconomics, labour economics and finance.

Before joining the Department of Economics in the Fall of 2006, Michael was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Team for Advanced Research in Growth, Education and Technology [TARGET]. TARGET was established at the University of British Columbia with major funding from the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) under the Initiative on the New Economy program. The project involves the collaboration of eighteen research associates from various academic institutions to investigate how globalization, technology, and education have contributed to the emergence of the New Economy. Through regular meetings, workshops, and conferences, the research associates, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students have studied how the economic and social policies of Canada need to be adapted to the demands of the New Economy.

An instructor since 2003, Michael has lectured in courses of economic principles at the introductory, intermediate and advanced levels as well as field courses in areas that included Canadian economic policy and environmental economics. Additionally, Michael created the first course in behavioural economics to be taught at Simon Fraser University.

Michael currently lives in the Vancouver area with his wife, Hayley Laker, a tax lawyer with M+M LLP, kids Kennedy Maelle, Briar Mackenzie, and his Boston Terriers, Malcolm and Jackie.

For more information, check Michael's website.

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