Understanding interrelationships correctly

Andreas Steinmayr is dedicated to identifying causal relationships in economically and politically relevant fields. The new Professor of Empirical Economic Research also emphasizes econometric methods in his teaching, which he wants to pass on to his students as essential tools for a wide variety of professional fields.

In an increasingly complex world, the relationships between cause and effect are not always as common assumptions and supposedly well-founded studies often suggest. It is not uncommon for them to be misinterpreted even in quality media, as Andreas Steinmayr, appointed to the Institute of Public Finance in October 2020, occasionally observes. This is the case, for example, when it comes to the effects of migration on politics and the economy, which the native of Upper Austria has been focusing on for many years, to great attention from experts. His interest in migration research already developed during his years of study in Vienna as well as in the course of an internship with the International Organization for Migration in Moldova, a country of emigration, and has also accompanied him throughout his international career stations. Steinmayr’s attention is not only focused on the effects of immigration, but also on emigration in the respective countries.

The question of the effect of …

Andreas Steinmayr recently published two peer-reviewed papers on migration: One of them reviews the literature on the effects of migration in OECD countries. Another one studies electoral support for the FPÖ in Upper Austrian municipalities in the context of the refugee influx in 2015. “It is true that the FPÖ recorded an overall vote increase of 15 percentage points at that time, which suggests that the strong presence of refugees favors the support of right-wing parties. But at the same time, we were able to show that in those communities where there were contact and sustained interaction between locals and asylum seekers, the far-right vote decreased by about four percentage points,” Steinmayr outlines in brief the results of his study. This represents a vivid example of how important it is, in his view, to analyze causal mechanisms in a methodologically structured way. – This is an approach that Andreas Steinmayr would also like to impart to his students. “Graduates will be confronted with cause-and-effect relationships even if they are not scientifically active,” clarifies Steinmayr. “In my first course here at the university, students therefore work in small projects on exciting questions such as ‘What is the effect of retirement on the demand for medical services?’ or ‘What is the effect of expanding childcare provision on women’s labor force participation?’ – I want to give them tools of empirical research with which they can think about these problems in a structured way,” says the economist.

Internationally engaged

Andreas Steinmayr’s academic career has taken him from the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration and the University of Vienna, where he studied economics and sociology, to the University of St. Gallen, the University of Chicago and finally to Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. International networking and exchange are still essential for him to be able to conduct good research, as he emphasizes. Thus, he is an affiliated researcher at internationally active research institutions such as the Stanford/Zurich Immigration Policy Lab, the Institute of Labor Economics of the Deutsche Post Foundation or the Center for Economic Studies of the ifo Research Network. “Being affiliated with these institutions greatly enhances the opportunities for exchange. One participates in conferences and workshops, publishes discussion papers there or is invited to give research presentations. This gives your own research more visibility, but at the same time you also receive important feedback,” Steinmayr is convinced.

Short Curriculum Vitae

Andreas Steinmayr, born in Rohrbach in Upper Austria in 1983, studied economics at WU Vienna and sociology at the University of Vienna. In February 2014, he received his Ph.D. from the University of St. Gallen under Professor Michael Lechner, focusing on microeconometric methods. Following his Ph.D., he spent two years as a visiting scholar at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. He then moved to the Department of Economics at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, where he researched and taught from 2015 to 2020. From 2018 to 2020, he was an elected member of the Young College of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities. The economist is an affiliate member of the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), the CESifo Research Network, and the Zurich/Stanford Immigration Policy Lab. Andreas Steinmayr is married and has two children.

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