Last week, a debate emerged around the policy recommendations provided by researchers, with the Economic Research Institute Etla’s “Finland rescue package”-publication at its center. The publication proposed several changes including cuts in corporate and income taxes. However, the controversy that was sparked questioned the selectivity of research references and the ideological nature of tax proposals.
The debate intensified as the week progressed, with Aki Kangasharju, CEO of Etla accusing Heikki Hiilamo, professor of social policy at the University of Helsinki of lying and exhibiting bias towards party politics. This dispute eventually garnered great attention and drew the participation of many experts.
Mika Maliranta, director of Labore, weighed in on the debate and considered whether publications such as “rescue package” should be seen as reviews presenting the scope of research literature on a particular issue. He noted that these are more beneficial to public debates than individual research results. Maliranta stressed that it is challenging to provide strong or explicit policy recommendations given the uncertainty associated with social science research. He emphasized that meticulous reviews require generous funding, pointing to successful models like those seen in former State Council investigation and research activities.
Marita Laukkanen, a WATER research professor and working life professor of economics at Tampere University, emphasized good scientific practice and thorough analysis required to formulate policy recommendations. She urged researchers to evaluate and qualify prior work to ensure credibility and high quality while considering factors like age, relevance of materials and methods.
Kaisa Kotakorpi also added her perspective as a professor of economics at Tampere University stating that writing clear policy recommendations from economic research literature is challenging due to limited policies that would benefit everyone directly. She highlighted that it is crucial to examine both advantages and disadvantages of a particular policy’s distribution while considering context reliability studies for an evidence-based discussion on this topic.
In conclusion, all three researchers emphasized how difficult it is to provide unambiguous policy recommendations in social science research and highlighted their need for an evidence-based discussion on this topic.