Insa Weilage is a Postdoc at Leibniz University Hannover, Germany.
Why did you choose to study economics?
During my gap year in rural South India, I kept wondering: "The people here are just as ambitious and hard-working as people back home. Why are they poor and we are rich? And how can I contribute to making us all prosperous?" I thus wanted to understand how wealth and welfare are created and can be spread.
How would you describe economics?
Economics has many facets. What I like about it the most is that it is a wonderful tool to analyse incentives (of all kinds!) and understand why people behave the way they do in many different situations. By shaping incentives well, we can help people to behave in a socially desirable way.
If you had a time machine and could meet your 16-year-old self, what advice would you give them?
Don't be afraid of statistics. Lean into it. It's a wonderful tool to understand the world and make it a better place.
What is your favourite part of economics?
Part I: Analysing and understanding how incentives (including social norms, psychological factors, etc.) shape behaviour.
Part II: Using empirical methods to quantify effects.
Is there anything you would do differently if you had the chance?
Hard to say because I don't know what the contrafactual situation would look like if I had decided differently.