Prof. dr. Carine Smolders

Prof. dr. Carine SmoldersContact details / research disciplines / publications

Question & answer

What is your hidden talent?

Empathy, ability to get to the bottom of a problem quickly, flexibility.

What is your research about?

My research concerns the policy side of taxation and finance at both local and regional government levels. Often, you start from a political framework, but behavioural insights are also important. Methodologically, I usually work in a quantitative way (time series, panel data analysis). In the future, I would like to focus more on experimental design and on more difference-in-difference studies because they allow us to establish more causal relationships.
Research questions that interest me include: Is the local tax structure politically determined? How do local tax choices influence the re-election chances of politicians? How decisive are local taxes for the citizens’ choice of residence and, indirectly, for the objective tax capacity of a municipality? Are local taxes an intermediary variable in their decision on how satisfied they are with local policy? Do grants gravitate more towards municipalities with political affiliations in Brussels? How can we optimise grant flows? What is the importance of our fiscal federalism and party-political context in this? How can we optimise regional taxes? Which models allow predict regional tax revenue? How to nudge taxes so that they become more acceptable? What determines tax compliance?

Where did the interest in this subject come from?

From an early age, I was fascinated with policy and how it is financed. With Prof. Dr. B. Heyndels (VUB), I developed a subsidiary project during my PhD trajectory on tax illusion and the subject has fascinated me ever since.

Why is your research socially relevant?

Policy costs money and it is important that the right efficiency/equity trade-offs are made. That is why studying taxes from a policy perspective is so useful.

What do you still hope to achieve in your academic career?

Achieving relevant research results related to the formulated questions; being a supervisor of successful academic but also policy-relevant PhDs; cooperating in policy-relevant research; acquiring new research ideas and insights through international contacts.

What is the first thing you do when an unexpected slot opens up in your schedule?

Do some reading, exercise, cooking and, depending on the season, growing flowers.