Key fields of economic research at the University of Helsinki include time series econometrics, game theory and applied microeconomic theory as well as macroeconomics. In addition, individual economics researchers investigate topics ranging from index theory and ethics to the theory of entrepreneurship and negotiations.
Empirical research into the dynamics of macroeconomics and the financial market is based on various time series data, such as macroeconomic time series data from national accounts, earnings per share and interest rates. Research in time series econometrics involves both the development of statistical methods and their application to empirical economics research. The discipline’s research has recently focused on structural vector autoregressive models and non-causal and non-invertible time series processes, which can be applied particularly to economic models that include future expectations. The models have been successfully applied, for example, to modelling and forecasting inflation as well as to studying the predictability of earnings per share.
Game theory is an area of mathematics developed in collaboration with economists that studies strategic dependencies between different decision-makers. The discipline has successfully applied game theory to the following topics: partner selection as an economic phenomenon, activities in a “thin” market where decision-makers can predict each other’s reactions, and the impact of reputation building on economic policy.
Macroeconomics studies the economy as a whole along with such macroeconomic phenomena as economic growth, production, unemployment, inflation, monetary and fiscal policy, exchange rates, the current account balance and economic crises. The discipline conducts macroeconomic research in economic growth as well as economic fluctuations and policies.
Research on economic growth factors and cycles addresses the basics of macroeconomics. The discipline has particularly explored the impact of international trade, globalisation (e.g., economic unions), environmental factors and economic institutions (e.g., the structure of the labour market) on economic growth. Population economics has studied, for example, the impact of air pollution on mortality and economic growth.
Macroeconomic phenomena and the effects of economic policies are investigated with theoretical and estimated dynamic, stochastic models of general equilibrium. Key research topics include economic fluctuations as well as monetary and financial policy. Recent research has focused on the macroeconomic impacts of the financial system and banks.
In Finland and in other countries with a large public sector, public expenditure amounts to approximately 50 per cent of GDP. It is therefore essential to understand how public services, transfers, and taxes should be organized and how public policy influences the behaviour of people and enterprises. The research in the unit is predominantly empirical: it is based on large, administrative data sets (which often cover the entire population) and aims to uncover causal relationships between policy interventions and economic behaviour.
The University of Helsinki economics unit is known as the leading provider of education for economists in Finland. It offers a wide range of opportunities for study in a demanding, rapidly internationalising environment. The high-quality education is based on top-level research. In the research assessment exercise of University of Helsinki departments in 2012, two of the discipline’s research groups (Economic Analysis and Theory, and Time Series Econometrics) were the only groups in the Faculty to be awarded for high-quality research.
Students can begin their studies in economics in the Bachelor’s Programme in Economics (in Finnish) or the Study Track of Econometrics in the Bachelor’s Programme in Mathematical Sciences (in Finnish). They can then continue to the Master’s Programme in Economics, to which students can also apply from other Bachelor’s programmes, provided that their Bachelor’s degree includes sufficient studies in economics and methodological sciences.
The Master’s Programme in Economics offers two study tracks: the general track provides excellent knowledge and skills for a career as an economist, while the research track prepares students particularly for postgraduate studies in economics as well as for especially demanding economist positions.
Teaching in the Master’s and doctoral programmes in economics is partly provided in cooperation with the economics departments of Aalto University and the Hanken School of Economics, which enables the most extensive provision of education in Finland as well as a wide range of specialist fields in economics. However, the content of the economist education at the University of Helsinki is more mathematical and quantitative than at other Finnish universities, and the University offers diverse opportunities to study the different methods of economics. Consequently, an economics degree from the University of Helsinki is highly valued in the job market, and a considerable number of graduates enter employment as economists in positions that require good analytical skills.
The most important employers in recent years have included the Bank of Finland, various research institutes, Statistics Finland, other public sector organisations as well as banks. Typical work duties include the drafting of economic reports for decision-making as well as the analysis of economic data. Those interested in such duties should complete the requisite studies in statistics and econometrics. The degree also provides excellent knowledge and skills for other specialist work in public administration and the private sector.
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