The ongoing debate surrounding the recommendations made by researchers at the Economic Research Institute Etla’s “Finland rescue package” publication has sparked controversy over its selective nature and ideological bias. The dispute intensified with the CEO of Etla, Aki Kangasharju, accusing Professor of Social Policy at the University of Helsinki Heikki Hiilamo of lying and exhibiting a partisan stance.
As the week progressed, three economics experts were invited to weigh in on the issue. Mika Maliranta, Director of Labore, questioned whether publications like “rescue package” should be seen as reviews presenting the scope of research literature on a particular issue. He argued that such publications are beneficial to public debates, but providing strong or explicit policy recommendations can be challenging due to uncertainty associated with social science research. Maliranta suggested that meticulous reviews require generous funding and pointed to former State Council’s investigation and research activities as a successful model.
Marita Laukkanen, WATER research professor and working life professor of economics at the University of Tampere, emphasized the importance of good scientific practice and thorough analysis required to formulate policy recommendations. She highlighted the necessity of evaluating and qualifying prior research to ensure credibility and high quality while considering factors like age and relevance of materials and methods.
Kaisa Kotakorpi, Professor of Economics at the University of Tampere, added that writing out clear policy recommendations from economic research literature is challenging due to limited policies that would benefit everyone directly. She stressed examining both advantages and disadvantages of a particular policy as well as its distribution while considering country context reliability studies.
All three researchers emphasized the difficulty in providing unambiguous policy recommendations in social science research and stressed an evidence-based discussion on this topic is necessary.