Yannis Papadakis is a PhD student at Queen Mary University of London. He is a research fellow at the University of Sussex's Economics Department, a researcher at the CITP and a PhD candidate at QMUL. His research revolves around macro and labour economics.
Why did you choose to study economics?
Hard to say. Perhaps it was my mother who wanted me to put humans first or my father who encouraged me to make money ... my exam grades, my economics teacher, or that I couldn't afford to move to another city to study math. It seems like the whole universe conspired. Ultimately, I made the decision to study economics. Rather than human nature, I believed that a poorly designed world was the main barrier to equal opportunities for all. My younger self thought that economics would allow me to shape the world, and failing that, at least it would help me avoid being naive and biased.
How would you describe economics?
Economics advances theories and then uses data and statistical analysis to test and validate them. It concerns the causes and consequences of human decisions and interactions that ultimately map to welfare. This emphasis and combination of methods provide valuable insights and set economics apart from other disciplines. It is interesting to note, however, that this gives economics the potential to be very inclusive as it allows for productive interaction with other social sciences rather than creating another intellectual silo.
If you had a time machine and could meet your 16-year-old self, what advice would you give them?
Instead of asking for advice, I would encourage my younger self to ask for information, learn about himself, and develop his own preferences. Making well-informed choices and learning from them should be his goal. Most importantly, he should take himself seriously, but not too seriously. My actions at a young age significantly impacted my future, but only those I kept repeating. In fact, later in life, I had more to lose, so my advice would be: this is the time to experiment with new things and stick with what makes you happy – they will have a compound effect.
What is your favourite part of economics?
Economics provides a clear view of the world through its analytical lens. Its power lies in its ability to explain and provide insights into complex economic phenomena using intuitive frameworks and data analysis. Economics is all around us, and equipped with it, one can have a significant positive impact on the world. The combination of simplicity and rigour makes economics a truly powerful tool for understanding and addressing economic issues.
Is there anything you would do differently if you had the chance?
I did not have the opportunity to study economics before my senior year at school. Also, history, geography, and mathematics were stripped of any relevance to economics. As a result, I could not answer many pressing questions. I was eager to know why my parents lost a significant portion of their income during the great recession, why people were concentrated in cities, why my peers emigrated, why prices were changing, and how all these would affect me. Studying economics earlier would have given me a better understanding of these complex issues and enabled me to make more informed decisions.