Jamie graduated with a PhD in Economics from CBE’s Research School of Economics in 2017. His dissertation explored the empirical implications of economic and policy-time variations in small open economies, such as Australia and Canada.
After graduating, he worked as an Associate Lecturer at ANU, teaching both Introductory Macroeconomics and Intermediate Econometrics. He then moved to Oslo, Norway, to work as a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre of Applied Macroeconomics and Commodity Prices (CAMP), in BI Norwegian Business School. Next year he will join the University of Queensland as a lecturer in Macroeconomics.
9 NOVEMBER 2021
Can you please share with us how you secured your postdoc position in Norway?
In January each year, the American Economic Association (AEA) hosts a centralised job market for academic and other institutions hiring people with PhDs in economics. Job listings are featured on both the AEA website and EconJobMarket (EJM) website. When I saw the advertisement for the post doctorate role on the EJM website, I thought that it was a great fit and sent through an application. I then travelled to Philadelphia in the US, interviewed for the position, and was fortunately successful. I started the job in July 2018.
What are some differences between the academic environments and expectations in Norway in comparison with those in Australia?
In my experience, it was mostly similar. However, one notable difference is that PhD students in Norway are officially part of the faculty. They receive a wage from the university as well as all of the other benefits that regular faculty receives: pension, research funds, publication bonuses, etc.
Have any recent developments in the macroeconomics field impressed you, and if so, why?
Historically, macroeconomists have built models with the goal of matching, and ultimately explaining, statistics from aggregated data, such as GDP, inflation and unemployment. One shortcoming of such models is that they are not capable of capturing important distributional phenomena, such as inequality and heterogeneous behaviour among firms and households. The main hurdle in creating models that are capable of capturing such heterogeneity has been the mathematical and computational difficulty of solving these models. However, over the past five years, these problems have been largely resolved. This has opened the floodgates for empirical research. For example, one recent paper used administrative data from Norway to show that the effects of monetary policy on consumption are unequal across households. Moving forward, there is no doubt that researchers in macroeconomics will increasingly use fine-grained microeconomic data to explain distributional dynamics over time.
Can you share with us your key advice for HDR candidates?
- The academic job market in economics is competitive. Really competitive! Don’t fall into the illusion that you will simply get an academic position because you graduated from the PhD program. To secure a position you will likely need an extremely strong job-market paper that can be published in a top field journal.
- Research is hard! Don’t be afraid to ask your advisor for help and talk to them as regularly as you can. I suggest setting a meeting at the same time each week.
- Don’t be afraid to “fail”. Most ideas don’t turn into research papers. It’s therefore important to avoid working on an idea until you have it all figured out. Instead, sketch out the idea and talk to your advisor about it as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid to abandon ship if it turns out not to be promising.
- Plan your workday, week and month. You might not meet the stated goals, but it will ensure that you’re making continual progress. Even if it’s small.
- Develop a filing system for your research and make notes of your thoughts. This helps to review ideas and track problems and solutions at various stages of your projects.
- Don’t be afraid to change advisor. You might start out with an idea of what you want to do and then change your mind. If this occurs, then communicate it with them as soon as possible and they will help you find someone who can better fit your needs. Remember: successful communication is the key to a successful PhD.