«The origins of the Toulouse School of Economics can be traced back to the early 1980s, when Jean-Jacques Laffont started gathering economists with a common ambition of scientific excellence in Toulouse.
TSE Faculty members are particularly prolific in industrial economics and regulation, microeconomic theory, public economics, theoretical and applied econometrics, finance and insurance, macroeconomics as well as in environmental and development economics. Their research work initially published in the TSE Working Papers series is certified through publication in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals.
TSE as seen by prominent economists
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: