On 18 October, doctoral student Julius Probst defends his thesis ”Growth, Factor Shares, and Factor Prices” in Economic History. He has previously communicated thoughts on economic issues in The Conversation – with republications by for example both the BBC and the Independent.
How did you come into contact with the online news site The Conversation?
”In 2017, one of the editors of The Conversation came to visit Lund University to give a talk on how to pitch articles to them. The idea behind The Conversation is for academics to write about their research in a way that is accessible and easy to understand for the public. Being a blogger myself, I immediately fell in love with the idea of writing about important economic issues for a broader audience.”
Some of your contributions to The Conversation have been republished in some really prominent media. How do you feel about the impact you’ve made through The Conversation?
”Some of my articles for The Conversation were indeed republished by other media outlets, such as the BBC, meaning that they generated a few hundred thousand readers in total. My pieces therefore became way more successful than what I initially hoped to accomplish. It obviously feels very good to reach a broader audience, especially since my PhD thesis will only generate a very small readership.”
Have you received any comments or reactions on your The Conversation content?
”The article “Seven Charts that show the World is actually becoming a better place” generated a lot of online comments, most of them positive, but some of them also being actually quite negative. In that piece, I show that in terms of life expectancy, child mortality, the global income distribution, and some other important indicators, the world has made meaningful progress in recent decades. Hundreds of million of people were lifted out of poverty in developing countries and for the first time in history, half of the world population can be considered global middle class.”
”The aim of this short article was to focus on some of the enormous progress that has been made. A lot of the criticism I received was how I forgot to mention negative side effects like global warming, rising inequality in advanced economies and other negative issues. While certainly true, this is not what the article was about.”
Has your activity on The Conversation contributed to your development as a researcher in any way?
”Producing the articles for The Conversation certainly has helped me a lot to develop my writing skills, especially when it comes to writing for non-economists.”
What topic that you’ve written about in The Conversation do you care about the most?
”For a broader audience, the article on how the world is becoming better in the very long-run is certainly the most interesting and fun to read. Myself, I like the piece on secular stagnation, which is certainly the most relevant for macroeconomists. This very controversial theory was initially revived by Larry Summers who argued back in 2013 that advanced economies will probably face a prolonged period of macroeconomic stagnation together with low interest rates and low inflation rates.”
”I am a big proponent of the secular stagnation view and in this recent article, I argue that Summers’ theory seems to be vindicated since he initially suggested his views and that he deserves the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work.”