Yoko Okuyama will join the Department

2020-02-27

We are delighted to announce that Yoko Okuyama, currently a PhD student in economics at Yale University, will start her work with the Department this fall.

Yoko Okuyama

Her current research focuses on the intersection of labor economics and political economy, particularly relating to gender and socio-political participation. Okuyama's dissertation title is "Essays on Women's Participation in Decision-Making".

- At the early stage of my PhD, I found that labor economics and political economy would allow me to explore my interests while utilizing my long-standing passion for quantitative methods. Broadly, I am interested in how public policies and institutions shape our beliefs, norms, information, and preferences, which interact with economic incentives and thus govern our behaviors. Also, I often wonder why different societies have followed different trajectories - both in terms of economic development and non-pecuniary aspects (such as societal norms), which intertwine with each other. Such interests are rooted in my background as a woman originally from Japan and having spent the last five and a half years in the U.S. And I am sure that moving to Sweden would also be a tremendous learning and inspiring opportunity, says Yoko Okuyama.

Do you have any specific empirical examples that you favour?
Speaking about a cross-country difference, I am still puzzled with why we have so few women at the top universities in my home country, whereas the share of women has exceeded men's at peer universities in other developed countries. I have some working hypotheses that I'd like to test, but in any case, this is one example showcasing that different institutions allocate talents differently. 

What goals or vision do you have with your work? 
I believe that my research in the coming years would align with my broader interests in labor economics and political economy. Of course, it would be difficult to answer the big questions all at once but hopefully, each of my work would lead me a step closer to that.

As an empirical researcher, I believe it is an important responsibility to collect, preserve and manage datasets for future generations. While I was working on my PhD dissertation, I faced quite a few occasions that data sources were lost - sometimes on purpose but in many cases just due to ignorance or by accident. I was, of course, upset with not being able to answer my research question in the way that I wanted. But more importantly, I felt deeply upset that we forever lost the opportunities to learn from the past. 

What do you hope coming to Uppsala will bring to your research?
I very much look forward to the opportunities to collaborate with colleagues and graduate students in Uppsala. Also, I am generally very much interested in policy-relevant questions, so I am looking forward to getting to know researches at IFAU too.