This autumn, three new Assistant Professors of Economics started at the Department of Economics
He isa labor economist with a particular interest in how educational and labor market institutions shape upward mobility. He has a diverse educational and policy background, with forays into Finance, Political Science, Policy Analysis, and Management, so interdisciplinary work comes naturally to him. His projects include reduced form analyses of (historical) reforms and institutions as well as more structural work. Just to give a few examples of Finnish policies he learned about recently and would like to explore in more detail: rural school closures, gender quotas for teachers, the extension of the school leaving age until 18. Starting Spring 2021, he will be teaching Applied Microeconometrics II and Advanced Econometrics 4. His goal is to integrate some structural modelling and machine learning elements in his students’ skill set.
‘I think one competitive advantage in Finland is the mix of excellent (big) data and policy transparency. I hope to be able to leverage these excellent data resources and become involved in policy relevant work. I also aim to build a structural labor “outpost” at Aalto, again leveraging Finnish microdata and international collaborations (in the relatively small structural labor network). I am also particularly open to collaborations with colleagues from other departments at the School of Business, given my educational background in Finance and Management Studies. Finally, I hope to contribute to expanding the Data Science/Machine Learning course offerings at Aalto.’
She is a development economist using applied microeconomics methods to understand the economic decisions of individuals and firms. Her research approach primarily relies on the design, implementation, and analysis of randomized field experiments designed to answer causal questions. In terms of geographical focus, her research so far has focused on East Africa, in particular in Uganda, where she has studied programs that serve poor populations such as microfinance and saving services. She currently examines how loans can be made to be more conducive to business development and how the incentives of loan officers shape lending activities. She also studies questions of political economy through the lens of development programs, such as how collective action problems and decision-making procedures shape and determine service delivery.
More generally, an interest in questions related to poverty and inequality is what led her to pursue a career in economics. Going forward, she plans to develop her research scope in this area by studying such questions not only in low income countries, but also in the context of the OECD. An example of this direction is a new project that aims to increase access and quality in vocational education in Israel, an educational setting where students are predominantly from low socio-economic backgrounds.
‘Here at the School of Business I look forward to contributing to students’ knowledge of economic issues relevant in low-income economies and for individuals living in poverty. While these are issues concerning and involving the majority of the world population, many students in economics and business do not learn much about them in their studies. Given that I work on questions related to both finance and management practices, I also see great potential for interdisciplinary research projects with faculty from other departments in the business school, as well as in other schools in Aalto University. Finally, I hope to increase the interest for development economics more generally in Finland, and attract research students to this flourishing research field.’
He is a microeconomic theorist, working on game theory and information economics. He is in particular interested in dynamic problems where individuals draw inferences from the economic decisions of others. For instance, he has a number of ongoing projects where he studies learning with model misspecification. ‘Before making decisions, we often look at what others have done in similar situations, since they may have information we don't have. But, in order to understand these decisions, I need some sort of model of how other people use their information. In my research I study what happens when these models of the world are wrong, developing a framework that allows us to study not only many different models of boundedly rational learning but also the interactions between different agents with different models. This allows us to think about questions like when do individuals with different world views eventually learn to make the correct decision, and when do incorrect decisions and disagreements persist, even as agents become very well informed. I also study related questions involving the design and manipulation of information; how can one design information campaigns to help correct behavioral biases; how can firms manipulate the information a market observes to improve how it is perceived.’ This year he is teaching game theory and a math course for incoming PhD and masters students.
‘I’m now starting my fourth year at the School of Business. At Aalto I’m able to be a part of one a phenomenal group of researchers studying dynamic incentive problems in the economics department. I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to work with the many incredible professors and students we have here at Aalto and I’m looking forward to continuing to be a part of this great department.’