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NKU Economics Student Wins 'Best Undergraduate Paper' Award


Oct. 29, 2021 —  Northern Kentucky University’s Brooklyn Stephens, an economics major and Center for Economic Education Student Fellow, was presented with the Best Undergraduate Paper at the 2021 Kentucky Economic Association Undergraduate Research Conference on Friday, Oct. 22.

Stephens’ paper, "Money Keeps Me Up At Night: An Analysis of Financial Anxiety in the United States" identifies demographic groups that may suffer from increased financial anxiety. The research study serves as the first step in the process to identify policy avenues to alleviate the burden in individuals' lives, which will improve financial and overall wellbeing. Stephens said she chose the topic because it is relevant but also under researched.

“There is limited existing literature on this topic,” Stephens said. “However, the sources that are available are clear that financial anxiety can have a multitude of negative effects such as the increased likelihood of a depressive and/or anxiety disorder, decreased academic performance in college students and decreased voter participation, especially among those in poverty.”

Stephens is the second NKU Economics student to win the award in the past three years. Dakota Langhals won the award in 2018 for his research on the effect that predatory lending laws have on mortgage prices and closure rates.

“Winning the best paper award was something I didn't expect but means so much to me,” Stephens said. “I am so grateful to the Center for Economic Education for giving me the opportunity to work on this research and learn something new.”

“I am extremely proud of Brooklyn and her efforts,” Dr. Abdullah Al-Bahrani, director of the Center for Economic Education, said. “It is a rewarding experience to watch students tackle hard tasks and succeed. While I had no doubt of her ability, this recognition by the Kentucky Economic Association is validation to Brooklyn of her ability and a testament to the work of our economics department. We are focused helping develop students by providing them with experiences for career development.”

The Center for Economic Education in the Haile College of Business increases economic and personal finance literacy in the region. It focuses on educating the educators and engaging the community through relevant educational experiences, striving to be a resource to the local community as economic education and financial literacy are vital to the success of our region.To learn more about the Center for Economic Education, visit

About the Haile College of Business: With more than 2,000 students, the Haile College of Business’ goal is to educate and connect with the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati business community by delivering globally relevant, innovative and sustainable programs and practices. The college offers 12 undergraduate degrees and three master’s level programs. For more information, visit its website. 

About NKU: Founded in 1968, NKU is an entrepreneurial state university of over 16,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus nestled between Highland Heights, Kentucky and bustling downtown Cincinnati. We are a regionally engaged university committed to empowering our students to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. While we are one of the fastest-growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit