Lives can be improved when policymakers and researchers collaborate

My motivation for doing economics research comes from the wish to see every human being have their basic needs met and enjoy their life. My interest is in public economics. This knowledge helps me to analyze how state economic policies affect the population and thus helps me find the best policies that result in citizens’ well-being.

I am a PhD student in Economics at the Félix Houphouët-Boigny University in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Earlier this year, I saw the UNU-WIDER Winter School advertised on LinkedIn. I applied and was selected for the course together with 26 other talented tax specialists from different parts of Africa.

A vast discipline

Before attending the UNU-WIDER Winter School, I had no idea how vast the research on tax policy is. I learned a lot during this course. We started with an online class in June, which included a refresher and intensive Stata sessions where I learned new estimation techniques such as RCT/experimental approaches and Diff-in-Diff. Then, during classroom sessions in Stellenbosch, South Africa, we learned the theoretical and empirical aspects of tax policies. The concepts of tax incidence, welfare economics, tax evasion, informality, corrective taxes, optimal tax, and so on. It was very exciting!

The highlight and an eye-opener for me was the introduction of a tax-benefit microsimulation model (SOUTHMOD), which would be a useful estimation technique for my current research. Unfortunately, it is still unavailable for my country.  I hope the microsimulation model will be developed for Côte d’Ivoire soon. It would be wonderful to properly analyze the impact of the tax and benefit system on individuals in different groups and on the reduction of poverty and inequality.

Filling the gaps and expanding networks

The contents of the UNU-WIDER Winter School course this year will, in any case, fill many gaps in my thesis. Therefore, this course was genuinely useful for improving my PhD thesis, and allows me to deepen my future research. In addition, I will share these skills with my fellow researchers.

I will share these skills with my fellow researchers.

This opportunity also allowed me to expand my network for sharing experiences on tax policies and to discuss future collaboration with other researchers from the Global South. I have already planned a project with one of the other researchers who attended.

I believe that the lives of people can be improved through close collaboration between policymakers and researchers. This co-operation facilitates policymakers uptake of research findings to formulate policy and development plans. The practical skills I learned at the UNU-WIDER Winter School will be useful for me when I engage in policy-oriented research.

Isabelle Beyera is a PhD candidate at the Félix Houphouët-Boigny University in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. She attended the UNU-WIDER Winter School on tax policy research in June-July 2022.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute or the United Nations University, nor the programme/project donors.