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New Faculty Focus: Mikkel Sølvsten

​He joins the Department of Economics, focusing on econometrics.​

by Katie Vaughn August 31, 2018
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Mikkel Sølvsten

Title: Assistant Professor of Economics

Hometown: Silkeborg, Denmark

Educational background:

BS in Mathematics-Economics (2010) from Aarhus University; PhD in Economics (2017) from University of California, Berkeley

How did you get into your field of research? 

Literally: I got into the field through tons of hard work.

Figuratively: I got interested in statistics as it is applied to economics because I thought there was too much misuse of statistics in modern-day public discussions of economic phenomena. Little did I know that researching new and better econometric and statistical tools has a rather small impact on how those tools are applied in public discourse.

What attracted you to UW-Madison? 

A long history of excellence and a strong current group of people in my area of economic research, which is econometrics.

What was your first visit to campus like? 

I came from California in January; the lakes and the ground were covered in snow and my future colleagues took me for a walk on the lake. It was great.

What’s one thing you hope students who take a class with you will come away with? 

A much greater understanding of how one can use (and misuse) data and statistical tools to tease out the underlying causal relationships that drive our society and economy. In particular, I hope the class will help students to better understand the difference between causation and correlation.  

What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter at parties?

Asymptotic theory uses the simplifying framework of infinite datasets to provide insights about properties of finite datasets. Improper use of the theory oversimplifies and misses important properties. Proper use balances on the knife-edge between finite and infinite samples where most of the finite sample properties are retained. 

Econometrics. Bought the book. Hard to read.

Hobbies/other interests:

Soccer, winter sports, family.