Torben M. Andersen

Staff portrait: Torben M. Andersen

Torben M. Andersen is professor at the Department.

How long have you been employed at the Department of Economics and Business Economics?
Since 1984, occasionally interrupted by various external engagements.

What is your background?
I started as an Oecon student, but actually never finished (would not be possible today!) since I went to the LSE to do an MSc. After that I returned to do a Lic Oecon (an earlier reincarnation of the PhD) and then went to CORE in Belgium to do my doctorate on quantitative economics.

What are your main areas of research?
The common denominator of what I have been doing in recent years is the economics of the (Nordic) welfare state, which mainly involves aspects in the intersection between labour and public economics. I also do some macro, mainly fiscal policy.

What research projects are you working on at the moment?
I have some ongoing projects on labour market issues (flexicurity, persistence etc.) and on pension issues (why have mandated pension schemes?) and pension products (annuities). Moreover, I am doing some work on intergenerational transfers and the possibilities of implementing policies with long run gains by short run costs under the Pareto-criterion that no generation is made worse off.

In addition I am involved in various policy advising activities.

What are you involved in teaching-wise at the moment?
I teach a graduate course on the “Economics of the welfare state”.

Are you planning to take part in any conferences or the like abroad in the near future?
Yes, I often go to workshops and conferences to give talks. In addition, I participate in numerous more policy oriented meetings and conferences.

Are you expecting any visiting researchers from abroad in the near future (or have you had any visitors from abroad recently)?
I am working regularly with Joydeep Bhattacharya, Iowa State University.

Are you cooperating with researchers from other departments at AU at the moment?
Not at the moment.

What do you do when you are not at work?
Well, I work a fair deal. When not, time is spent with my family, listening to jazz, running, skiing and trying to be a keen supporter of AGF.

Supplementary question from Peter Løchte Jørgensen: Is there a limit for your patience with politicians?
Well the patience is often tested. Yet, policy advice is a risky business, and there are ups and downs. Overall I think that there is a reasonable platform for policy advice, and that it is rather influential – not necessarily instantaneously or in all matters, but overall I think the record is quite good. It should also be added that there is a clear division of labour between experts and policy makers – experts are not up for elections, policy market are, and this makes a huge difference. Experts are there to give inputs and qualify the debate, but the responsibility ultimately rests with the policy makers. I guess that economic advising is no different or worse than it is for general practitioners who continuously tell us to live more healthy lives, perfectly well aware that behaviours do not always change!

Please give us your suggestion for the next department staff member to be presented:
Marias Halldor Gestsson

What specific supplementary question would you like him or her to answer?
Is Iceland on the other side of the crisis?

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