Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Johan Christensen: 'The Power of Economists within the State'

This month Johan Christensen, assistant professor at the Institute of Public Administration, published his new book: ‘The Power of Economists within the State’. The book explores four countries, Denmark, Ireland, Norway and New Zealand and analyses why these similarly sized and wealthy countries have implemented very different policies towards economic deregulation.

The role of economists

The main finding of his research is that the role of economists within the state differed greatly, which had a direct impact on the policies implemented by that state. When academic economists had a strong position within policy making, they would also be the ones to set the policy agenda, and vice versa.

As Johan Christensen argues, the source of this difference between the countries can be found in the historical development of policy making in the countries. Some of the countries analysed had a very closed administration, which put up barriers for economists to enter the policy making sphere. This legacy still continues to impact today’s situation: where economists were excluded from policy making, this threatened the quality of policies.


This was highlighted by Ireland in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, where the government implemented unsustainable policies that led to the governments receiving too little tax income. On the other side of the spectrum, where economists were directly involved with policy making this sometimes led to higher levels of inequality within a country.

Would you like to learn more? Watch the talk of Johan Christensen about The Power of Economists in the video below. He also wrote a blog on his research.

The book is available at Stanford University Press