The truth behind free markets

In 2009, my high school class mate Hao Yi Ong and I won the Second Prize in the Singapore Statistical Poster Competition, organized by the Department of Statistics and Applied Probability at the National University of Singapore.

Our poster, entitled The Truth behind Free Markets, statistically examines Adam’s Smith classical liberal view that “basic institutions that protect the liberty of individuals to pursue their own economic interests result in greater prosperity for the larger society.”

We suspect that although greater economic freedom may benefit a nation’s economy, these benefits may not be directed to all members of the society: the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We test this by performing hypothesis testing on the relationship between the purchasing power parities, Gini coefficients and indices of economic freedom for 150 countries.

From this study, we conclude that overall, greater economic freedom does play a significant role in contributing to greater prosperity for a nation. However, as many critics have pointed out, the inherent problem of the world is not that there is not enough economic freedom. Rather, there is no guarantee that even if nations were to embrace it, they will become better as a whole because there is no equality within the society due to exploitation and corruption. We believe that only through a political system with institutions that protect the liberty of the people can a free market system work and provide for an equal (in terms of opportunity) and just society.

For more details, please see our detailed report or the poster below.

I designed the poster in CorelDraw, a popular vector graphics program, and did part of the statistical analysis. I really enjoyed making the poster (my first time using CorelDraw) and applying what I learned in my AP Statistics class (warning: large image size).

Our Poster

The truth behind free markets poster

Media Coverage

Singapore Statistical Poster Competition award acceptance

Where they are now

It was a pleasure to work alongside a dedicated team member like Hao Yi who also worked with me in the Singapore Space Challenge 2009. He graduated with High Distinction from high school and received both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Stanford in 2015. He’s currently a data scientist at Lyft in San Franscisco.