Bringing in public economics--an interview with Jukka Pirttila.

Author:Linden, Carl-Gustav

29 March 2014

Quite a few prominent Finnish economists have been collaborating with UNU-WIDER throughout the years. One of them is Jukka Pirttila, who in the beginning of March 2014 became a Research Fellow at Institute. He is currently on leave from the University of Tampere, where he is a professor of economics. Development economics has only recently emerged within the Finnish research landscape. Jukka himself did transition economics at the Bank of Finland, then conducted research on theoretical and empirical public economics, mainly in the developed country context, before ending up in development economics. He has a special interest in publicly-provided goods, social protection, and tax policy. Watch the video below or read the interview to know more about Jukka's research aims for the coming years, bringing together public and development economics, his thoughts on development economics in Finland and UNU-WIDER's role in this.

Carl-Gustav Linden (CGL) spoke with Jukka Pirttila (JP) about his goals during his tenure at the Institute and asked him about the source of his inspiration for research.

JP: I suppose it is a combination of academic curiosity and interest in, if I can in my own small way, trying to help matters in poor countries. Since I am also fostering the nascent development economics research here in my home country, then working for UNU-WIDER is an obvious choice because of the strength of the Institute and its presence here in Finland. It is a great opportunity for a person like me.

CGL: In what way is UNU-WIDER a different environment for research compared to the University of Tampere?

JP: In many ways. Although Tampere is a large university the economics unit is really small. So if you take account of the researcher network of UNU-WIDER, it is obviously much larger. Then it is international. It asks somewhat different questions because people here are involved in policy advice and policy-oriented research. Academic research can be, as you know, academic for its own sake. And we don't have undergraduate students at UNU-WIDER, only PhD interns. We do teach a couple of courses here in Helsinki, at the Helsinki Center of Economic Research (HECER), so there is some interaction with students, but less than in a typical university.

CGL: You'll be here at UNU-WIDER for the next two years, what do you hope to achieve?

JP: My hope is to utilize my knowledge from public economics and bring it to use in development economics...

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