“It’s an intense research environment”

Jerker Holm, former head of the Department of Economics

“The goal of the department is to be at the research frontiers in many fields at the same time and thereby be a highly regarded research institution that contributes with relevant and original studies, which meet the highest international quality standards.

The research environment at the department is intense and broad, with many young and knowledgeable researchers. There are several different seminar series where international guests and PhD students present their research. There is also a departmental seminars series that often hosts prominent researchers. In addition, the Arne Ryde Foundation provides support to members of the department to arrange workshops with top level international researchers, many of whom have received a Nobel prize in Economics later on. All this creates a very fertile and stimulating environment for the exchange of ideas.

I think our research is characterized by intellectual independence and openness to new ideas. As a consequence, the generation of new ideas often starts with an individual researcher or a team of researchers in a bottom-up process. All in all, we are around 100 people working at the department, from administrators to doctoral students, teachers and researchers. The size of the department with many research groups with prominent knowledge of different methods provides excellent opportunities for cross-fertilization. Furthermore, the department’s wide range of contacts with the surrounding society and researchers in Sweden and abroad provide levers for achieving high quality and relevant research.

Our professors usually teach 50 percent of their time, and our senior lecturers 80 percent. Many professors have a lot of research funds, and then they might teach as little as 20 percent. But they always teach, that applies to everybody. That way, we feel that the results from the researchers gets incorporated into the education. If you take equality issues as an example, then results like the ones from Petter Lundborg’s research, about earnings for women, are naturally included in the lectures for students.

We have recruited many skillful researchers from outside Sweden, but also see that researchers from Sweden and Lund University manage to stand out. One example is professor Petter Lundborg, who recently was appointed the Assar Lindbeck medallion, the first researcher from outside the Stockholm and Uppsala area. We also have a number of professors and researchers that have been active in the public debate. Among others, I would like to mention Anne-Marie Pålsson, the mind behind the Swedish RUT subsidiary for household services, as well as Lars Jonung, the late Bo Södersten and Ingemar Ståhl.

Every year we visit the annual meeting for the American Economic Association. It’s the perfect recruiting ground for economists from all over the world. During our last visit, we interviewed 20 people, out of 420 applicants. Then we chose five that is brought to Sweden for a presentation. After that, we discuss and chose a couple to employ. This is enabled thanks to the Browaldh scholarship, that allows us to grant advantageous working scholarships. One of the people that was first employed this way is Kaveh Majlesi, who is now a permanent member of our staff.”

Last published: 2020-01-28