The researchers’ policy recommendations have created an exceptional group, raising questions about how other researchers perceive and interpret a publication like the “rescue package”.
Last week, there was an unusual disagreement among financial experts, sparking a debate about how policy recommendations made by researchers should be handled. The dispute was about a critique by Heikki Hiilamo, a professor of social policy at the University of Helsinki, of The Economic Research Institute Etla’s “Finland rescue package” publication. Etla, in this publication, recommended reductions in corporate and income taxation based on research data.
Hiilamo accused Etla of selectively using research references and claimed that its tax recommendations were ideological and disguised as research interest monitoring. This ignited a heated discussion, with Etla’s CEO Aki Kangasharju accusing Hiilamo of lying and having a political bias. Hiilamo clarified that his intention was not to question Etla’s researchers, but to criticize the fact that the tax recommendations were not based on the best information.
This debate drew exceptional attention, with several other experts joining the discussion. The controversy raised questions about how publications like the “rescue package” should be interpreted and handled publicly. Three economics researchers were asked to share their thoughts on this.
Mika Maliranta, Director of Labore, believes that policy recommendations are challenging. He emphasizes that there is still a need for similar publications. He feels that carefully conducted reviews require supportive funding. Maliranta doesn’t think it’s natural for Laboren to give policy programs himself.
Marita Laukkanen, a research professor and working life professor of economics at the University of Tampere, states that if policy recommendations are made based on a large body of research, all key research results must be taken into account. This requires an in-depth analysis of previous research. She believes that different studies may be emphasized differently, and policy recommendations can vary, leading to a fact-based discussion.
Kaisa Kotakorpi, a professor of economics at the University of Tampere, reminds that it’s often difficult to give strong or unambiguous policy recommendations based on social science research. She explains that this is because there are few policy actions that would benefit everyone. When making political value choices, research data rarely provides direct answers.