Monday, January 13, 2014

New blogger: Economics of Public Policy and Management

While writing this first blog as a student at USE, I am also working on a paper and presentation that need to be finished soon. Whether I am just avoiding doing these things right now or that studying inspired me to write this blog, I am not sure. But with two presentations in the coming week and two exams in the week after that, I don't think there is a calm moment to write these blogs anyway. Soon, I will expand more on the characteristics of the master, the exciting moments or the long nights of studying, but for now I will try to answer one simple question: why did I choose for the master Economics of Public Policy and Management.

Let me first tell you where I come from. My name is Martijn Otten, 20 years old, born and raised in Leiden, about 50 km west of Utrecht. I finished a bachelor at Leiden University College last summer. I am interested in all different aspects of how we have organised our societies, such as the political, social and economical level. Therefore, in choosing what to study, I considered about everything they offer in the social sciences departments. Leiden University College gave me an opportunity to combine these interests and my study included international relations, political philosophy, journalism and, of course, economics. Next to my academic interest, I am also interested in its practical side and I want to be involved in these political processes; I am active in the young social democratic movement in the Netherlands and I am a candidate council member for Labour Party in Leiden.

After finishing my bachelor, I felt that it was essential to gain more economic knowledge which would be of practical use to my political interest. Economics is all around us and I believe that USE understands that it is, in essence, a social study. Many scholars attempt to transform economics into some semi-mathematical science, but that misses the point of economics. Even the simplest debates about employment, investment or welfare can never be answered fully with the simple utilitarian 'what is most effective?' We always need to look at equity, social consequences or non-economical norms. At the moment, I am reading an inspiring book by Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel, called 'What money can't buy'. At USE we are able to both learn all essentials about economic research, while at the same time we are able to discuss that in the broader frame of social sciences.

I'll come back to you soon, but I'm now returning to my papers on alternative risk sharing devices amongst the self-employed (certain types of co-operative enterprises) and on migration within the European Union and it's effect on policy makers in Western European countries. Both issues are in the news on a daily basis. Romanian and Bulgarian workers that may enter all other European countries. The highest Dutch government official at the ministry of Economics arguing that the self-employed should have more social security. If you are interested to discuss both the economical theory and arguments behind these developments, whilst also engaging in political debates about the legitimacy and equity of the policy outcomes, you're at the right place here.

Friday, January 3, 2014


As I promised, I am giving a sign of life here (my endterms went reasonably fine). Also, these are  the first days of the new year! After 4 months of living here in Utrecht I visited my friends and family for the first time and spent my holidays at home. So you can imagine how excited I was about meeting them all again. Until now, I also lacked the experience of flying alone which I think is special moment in everyone's life (especially this age). However the New Year's Eve was extraordinary with my friends, I am back again in Utrecht and even though its officially winter time now, the Dutch weather is really kind to me lately. Something extraordinary to point out, is that I was given the chance to participate in Antony Burgmans' guest lecture a while ago and it was really interesting. All credit goes to the DLC (Discussion and Lecture) committe for that. Meanwhile the regular financial accounting lectures are also spiced up with interesting topics and interesting lecturers from the various fields of the industry. New exams are coming up in microeconomics and financial accounting, but after that, ski trip with friends to France will make me forget every stressed moment.
That's all folks for now ;-) will see what will happen in the following weeks!