Karine Van Der Straeten winner of the CNRS Bronze Medal
What are your main research fields?
My main research fields are public economics and political economy. I am particularly interested in using economic tools (game theory, experiments,…) to study political institutions. In particular, I use game theoretical models to explore some of the properties of representative democracy. Will elections provide politicians with the right incentives to transmit all the relevant information about their platforms or the state of the economy to voters? How will the electoral competition between parties shape the kind of platforms that they will propose? These are the kind of questions that I have been addressing for some years.
What is your recent research?
More recently, I have also had an interest in doing experiments on voting rules. Elections are the keystone of representative democracies. Yet, the details of the voting rules – whether one uses one round plurality, two round voting rules, proportional representation - might prove to be important in shaping the electoral outcomes. I have run experiments, both large scale and laboratory experiments, to study the impact of the voting rule on a number of parameters: number of viable candidates, likelihood that a consensual policy is chosen, incentives for voters to vote strategically, etc.
Those studies on voting rules may help shed some light on issues that were recently in the news. Many deplore the low turnout rates that were observed in many countries during the last European Parliament elections. Reforming the electoral system of the European Parliament, although unlikely to change the perception of those elections as 'second order' elections, could given citizens more electoral power, and help foster their interest in those elections. For example, introducing open ballots (preferential voting or alternative voting which are used in a majority of European countries, rather than the closed lists system as is the case now in France) could allow citizens to really choose the candidates that they will send to the Parliament, instead of giving most of the power to parties at the national level. This could induce candidates to campaign directly to citizens and enable citizens to reward incumbents for good performance in the European Parliament.
I am now part of a large international project supported by the Research Council of Canada, entitled “Making Electoral Democracy
Work”, which brings together political scientists, economists and psychologists from Canada, Europe and the US, to compare
electoral institutions across countries, using theoretical models, electoral surveys and experiments. Visit the project website:
Jorge Ponce - Researcher (Banco Central de Uruguay)
To choose a graduate school is not an easy task. Many years of your life and your entire professional career depend on that decision. By the time I made such a decision, I had got acceptation letters from several, well-known departments of Economics in the United States and Europe.
I chose Toulouse School of Economics for two reasons: academic quality and standard of life. Toulouse School of Economics offers high quality courses, which provide students with an updated treatment of Economics and all the necessary tools to have a fruitful professional life. In addition to a rigorous treatment of subjects like microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics, Toulouse offers tens of specialized courses (e.g., finance, industrial organization …) through its many Master degrees. Leading economists, most of them actively publishing in top journals in Economics, are part of the large faculty of the School. Moreover, Professors from other leading economic departments in the world are continuously attending seminars, workshops and conferences in Toulouse. All together makes the dissertation’s work an encouraging, challenging and enjoyable experience. But not all is study and work; you also have to live in the place you choose to make your graduate studies. Believe me, Toulouse is a very living place!
I wrote my dissertation on “the design of banking supervision institutions” in September 2009. Now I am back in my country, Uruguay, working as a researcher at Banco Central del Uruguay (the central bank), and as a Professor at Universidad de la República and Universidad de Montevideo. Here, I continue the line of research I started in Toulouse: microeconomics of banking, banking regulation and the institutional organization of banking supervision.
Paulo Cox - PhD Student (Chile)
I chose TSE to pursue a PhD in economics because it assembles a numerous and reputed group of economists carrying out cutting-edge scientific research in an increasingly broader spectrum of issues that are of interest for Economics. TSE is, without doubt, among the best centers of Economic research in the world.
Of this I am aware at least since I was an under-graduated student of Economics at the Universidad de Chile, where professors of IO used works by Jean-Jacques Laffont and Jean Tirole as main textbooks when teaching this subject. These works were also cornerstones in any discussion on regulation among the staff of economic advisors at the Ministry of Economy of Chile, were I worked for about a year after obtaining my undergraduate degree in Economics. The School of Economics of Toulouse and its people -especially its founders - were also highly regarded by Senior Economists of the Banco Central of Chile, where I worked for two years before beginning my PhD studies abroad. Some of them had attended courses taught by Jean Tirole and Jean-Jacques Laffont at the MIT, and others had been classmates of some of the researchers that today are affiliated to TSE and that belonged to that leading department of economics.
On more personal grounds, I had chosen TSE for its strength in economic modelling and economic theory, which is essential to any scientific endeavour. Although I had been relatively well prepared in empirical research, I was always motivated to complement empirical findings with better understanding of the underlying forces that caused them. Thorough comprehension of what are the drivers of the phenomena we observe is a key step in our acquisition of knowledge, and the TSE is indeed an ideal place for that purpose, as it assures in great extent acquisition of good training in economic modelling, critical thought, and the selective use of analytical tools in order to analyse economic phenomena.
I am engaged in a very challenging research agenda in the sphere of Political Economy. I am studying the effect of strategic public information manipulation by better informed agents, as found in work by Roland Bénabou and Guy Laroque in 1992, but in the context of Political Economy problems. There are 3 types of problems I am focussing on. These are monetary and fiscal policy, and the political economy of reform. Experts à la Bénabou and Laroque (1992) induce the formation of beliefs across agents that induce changes in their actions, that in turn change the equilibrium values of variables that affect the economy as a whole, such as prices or the type of elected politicians. I study the conditions under which this manipulation is likelier to take place, and to what extent it can persist and generate cycles in the economy. I also apply my research to the study of the role of the media industry in public affairs.
Augustin Landier - Associated Professor at the University of Toulouse
"There are several reasons that make TSE a very special place for an economist. First, it is undoubtedly a world-famous research center, where a real intellectual adventure is taking place. The circulation of ideas, the frequent conversations between researchers remind me of MIT where I did my PhD. Interacting on a daily basis with researchers who are at the technology frontier in economic theory creates that special intense atmosphere, both stimulating and collegial, which is the mark of TSE. But TSE is also a community of economists which takes part in public policy debates and whose thinking is inspired by concrete regulatory or industrial questions. Research here is often nourished by interactions with private and public sector partners of the school. The debate on the carbon tax is a good example of that dynamics. For me, this mix of theory and sense of reality is economics at its best. After 11 years in the US academic system, I am very happy to be back to Europe. The French academic system has evolved tremendously during that time. I am very grateful to those who were the pioneers of this evolution."
Cooperation, conflict, identity and illusions
A project, selected for the academic year 2009-2010, was led by Roberta Dessi, in collaboration with several TSE economists (Giuseppe Attanasi, Astrid Hopfensitz, Jean Tirole, Karine Van der Straeten), neuroeconomists (Giorgio Coricelli, Lyon) and psychologists from the universities of Stanford (Benoît Monin) and Duke (Dan Ariely).
The project explores the links between cooperation, conflict, identity, and illusions. How can valuable cooperation and prosocial behaviour be encouraged and sustained? How are different forms of anti-social behaviour best prevented or reduced? What role does identity play in cooperation and conflict? These questions are at the heart of many current debates: education, tax reform, immigration, health care, economic and cultural integration, climate change, population ageing…
To answer them, the project brings together economists, neuroeconomists and psychologists. The main scientific goal is twofold: first, to enhance our understanding of the cognitive and affective mechanisms driving cooperation, pro-social and anti-social behaviour, and conflict. Second, to study how social cooperation can be influenced by different institutions, such as different forms of reward and punishment, different methods for aggregating individual preferences into collective decisions (e.g. voting rules), and different legal and regulatory frameworks.
"My experience in the Foundation---and, more broadly, in TSE---has just been great. Every day I learn something new. There are so many great colleagues to interact with, so many visitors, so many seminar series—virtually in any topic in economics, and so many great conferences to attend. Every day I learn about interesting economic phenomena, new perspectives to understand the world, new economic tools, and new issues in relevant policy discussions. In summary, everything a young researcher like me could dream of. And, on the top of that, it is a lot of fun.
Regarding myself, I was born in Chile and I have got my PhD from Boston University in 2008. My research so far has studied the interplay between policy and expectations from two different perspectives. The first one is about the dynamics of the credibility that citizens assign that a given announced policy will be carry out. The second one is about the leverage that policy has in economic environments where self-fulfilling prophecies are possible."
"When I obtained the offer from TSE last year, I was very excited to join one of the leading economics departments in Europe and the world. TSE provides a great research environment, having renowned experts not only in my particular field of interest, but in almost all areas economic research. It is thus an excellent place to discuss ideas with people from different backgrounds, and to start collaborative research projects. I also enjoy the broad range of seminars and locally organized conferences, allowing in particular young researcher like me to establish international connections to other institutions. In short, I believe that TSE is an excellent place for a career as a researcher in economics, and am happy having the opportunity to be here."