A heated debate has emerged over the policy recommendations made by researchers last week, with the Etla Economic Research Institute’s publication “Finland’s Rescue Package” at the center of the controversy. This publication proposed several changes, including reductions in corporate taxes and taxes. The dispute that arose questioned the selectivity of the research references and the ideological nature of the tax proposals.
As the week progressed, the conversation intensified, with Etlo CEO Aki Kangasharju accusing University of Helsinki social policy professor Heikki Hiilamo of lying and showing bias towards party politics. The debate eventually generated a lot of attention and attracted the participation of many experts. Three economic researchers were asked for their opinions: Mika Maliranta, director of Labore; Marita Laukkanen, VODA Research Professor and Professor of Economics at the University of Tampere; and Kaisa Kotakorpi, professor of economics at the University of Tampere.
Mika Maliranta considered whether similar publications such as “bailout” should be seen and treated as reviews representing the body of research literature on a particular issue. He noted that they are more useful for public debates than individual research results. However, he pointed out that it can be challenging to make strong or explicit policy recommendations given the uncertainty surrounding social science research. His view is that meticulous reviews require generous funding, citing the investigative and research activities of the former State Council as a successful model.
Marita Laukkanen emphasized the importance of good scientific practice and thorough analysis needed to formulate policy recommendations. She stated that it is necessary to evaluate and qualify previous research to ensure credibility and high quality, taking into account factors such as age and relevance of materials and methods.
Kaisa Kotakorpi added that writing clear policy recommendations from economic research literature is challenging due to limited policies that would directly benefit everyone. It is crucial to examine both advantages and disadvantages of a particular policy as well as its distribution. She also emphasized considering country’s context and reliability studies when making unequivocal policy recommendations in social sciences.
All three researchers emphasized