Enabling and promoting economic research in Switzerland

The aims of the Society of Economics and Statistics in Switzerland are discussed here, which includes enabling and promoting economic research and encouraging the work of young economists

The Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES) aims to enable and promote economic research in Switzerland, including the work done between domestic and international research communities. They notably focus on the work of young economists by providing an appropriate platform for them to further their careers.

Their publication, the Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES) was founded in 1867. This journal is peer-reviewed, publishing theoretical and empirical contributions to any field of economics and attaining an international audience. It is fully financed by the SSES, which enables it to give a platform to early career economists. It is published quarterly and remains open access, to further enable exposure for the ideas contained within it.

The SSES meets annually, during which time, a financial reward is given to the best economic paper from only authors that are less than 33 years old. This tradition has been in place since 2007, with the latest winners of the SSES Young Economist Award being Andrea Camilli, with the paper “Labour market institutions and homeownership” and Helge Leibert and Beatrice Mäder for the paper “Health care supply and infant mortality: Semiparametric evidence from Germany, 1928-1936”. They won approximately £1,600 for their work, alongside the recognition and exposure in a field which is often saturated with the work of those who have been economists for decades.

Every SSES annual meeting has a theme: in 2017, this was “Economists and Policy Making”, which interrogated the purpose of economics. The SSES reflected on recent failures by economics to “revive stagnant economies and boost middle-class incomes,”1 which remains a concern two years later in 2019. The SSES particularly interrogated the access economists working for government agencies, central banks or academic institutions as advisors to policy-makers – they asked, how influential are economists really? What level of influence is morally correct and how do good economists navigate ‘bad’ politics?

The SSES works on figuring out questions like these which are relevant throughout the profession of economics, whether academic or more policy-based. The keynote speech at a SSES conference published in the SJES in 2018, entitled “Economists: moral realists or real moralists? Comment on Fourcade and Brunetti”. Bütler delves into these questions, interrogating classic philosophies of the function of economics.

Monika Bütler, the author, says that: “Economists are a fortunate crowd, as is clear from Aymo Brunetti’s contribution: They can rely (not without limits) on the power of the price mechanism, following Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand”. None of the other social sciences seems to benefit from a similar source of rather robust first approximations.

“Of course, as any paradigm, it is open for ideological contamination. Yet, few would reject the view that the price mechanism can help to tackle many of today’s challenges like climate change, congestion and demographic change.”2

She goes on to positively elaborate on the impact of economists in modern policy: “There are many examples where economic reasoning has indeed led to accurate predictions and useful policy measures. Others – such as some crisis in the Euro Area – occurred because economists ignored what they knew, or because they were ignored by politicians.

“Marion Fourcade comes to the most powerful (and flattering) aid of economists: a counterfactual usually does not exist (especially in macroeconomics). We cannot know what would have happened if economists had not offered their advice.”3

 

References

1 https://swiss-conferences.com/lcvb-ch/sses-annual-congress

2 https://sjes.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s41937-017-0018-3

3 https://sjes.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s41937-017-0018-3

 

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