In recent weeks, a heated debate has emerged over policy recommendations put forth by researchers at the Economic Research Institute Etla. At the center of the controversy is Etla’s “Finland rescue package” publication, which proposed several changes including cuts in corporate and income taxes. The dispute that ensued questioned the selectivity of research references and the ideological nature of the tax proposals.
As the week progressed, tensions escalated with CEO of Etla Aki Kangasharju accusing professor of social policy at the University of Helsinki Heikki Hiilamo of lying and exhibiting bias towards party politics. The debate eventually garnered significant attention and attracted input from many experts, including three economics researchers who weighed in on the matter.
Mika Maliranta, director of Labore, considered whether similar publications should be seen as reviews presenting the scope of research literature on a particular issue. He argued that these are more beneficial to public debates than individual research results, noting that it can be challenging to provide strong or explicit policy recommendations given the uncertainty associated with social science research. He emphasized that meticulous reviews require generous funding and pointed to successful models such as those employed by former State Council investigations and research activities.
Marita Laukkanen, a professor of economics at Tampere University, stressed the importance of good scientific practice and thorough analysis when formulating policy recommendations. She emphasized that evaluating and qualifying prior research is crucial to ensure credibility and high quality while considering factors like age and relevance of materials and methods. She also highlighted the significance of examining both advantages and disadvantages of a particular policy as well as its distribution, taking into account country contexts reliability studies.
Kaisa Kotakorpi, another professor at Tampere University, acknowledged writing clear policy recommendations from economic research literature is challenging due to limited policies benefiting everyone directly. She emphasized it is essential to examine both advantages and disadvantages of a particular policy as well as its distribution while taking into consideration country contexts reliability studies.
All three researchers underscored how difficult it is to provide unambiguous policy recommendations in social science research and emphasized the need for an evidence-based discussion on this topic.
The debate surrounding these recommendations has raised important questions about their validity, objectivity, and potential impact on society. As such, it is crucial for policymakers to approach these issues with caution