Prof. Dr. Marike Knoef, researcher at the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for BOLD Cities, is professor of Empirical Micro-Economics at Leiden University and board member at Netspar, a network that aims to enhance the knowledge around the Dutch pension debate.
Can you tell us about your current research at the Centre for BOLD Cities?
The research team I work in consists of dr. Merel Schuring (Erasmus MC), Marco Stam (Leiden University), Prof. dr. Lex Burdorf (Erasmus MC), and Prof. dr. Liesbet van Zoonen (Erasmus University Rotterdam). Our project called Reintegration in BOLD Cities is in collaboration with Maarten van Kooij and Frans Moors who work for the city of Rotterdam. Together we are specialized in the academic disciplines Econometrics, Public Health Sciences and Sociology.
Our aim is to design personalized reintegration strategies for bijstandsgerechtigden (welfare recipients) based on the individual capabilities of urban residents who are entitled to benefits. Even so, we would like to gain more insight in causal effects; what is the effect of work reintegration on someone’s health, and the other way around? In this project we connect data from the municipality of Rotterdam to data from Statistics Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek).
We perform quantitative and qualitative research. During the quantitative approach we use data to gain insight in the route of the bijstandgerechtigde, within the organization of the municipalities, that should result in obtaining a job; which department and which approach will help which person in finding work? We studied the processes and results of different employment services that the city of Rotterdam used in guiding bijstandsgerechtigden to work. The qualitative approach consists of having dialogues with welfare recipients, informing them of the aims, data-usage and forms of analysis in the project and inviting them to share their hopes and concerns about the outcomes of the project.
Reintegration in BOLD Cities is funded by ZonMw. We delivered a report with results at the city of Rotterdam and at ZonMw. The city of Rotterdam has already followed advise of our findings. For example, they redesigned their employment services in accordance with our conclusions. Subsequently, we obtained new funding for a follow up research project: Reintegration in BOLD Cities II where the focus lies on if and how municipal and national data can be linked and analyzed in order to design bespoke strategies for reintegration into paid labour.
The multi-disciplined approach was a motivation for me to take part in this project for the Centre for BOLD Cities.
How do you experience working on interdisciplinary research at the Centre for BOLD Cities?
It is very valuable and helpful to work in an multidisciplined research team. In every specialism scientists have set their own set of standards that are often taken for granted amongst the specific discipline. When people with different academic specialisms come together, questions rise about these norms. This leads to new insights that contribute to the research project. This mixture of disciplines needs an open mind. In the end, when you combine experts from different fields, this leads to more conscious decision making and you move faster forward.
What was your personal motivation to become affiliated with the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for BOLD Cities?
My personal motivation in all my research projects is to build bridges between research and practice. This is necessary when formulating relevant research questions. The multi-disciplined approach was also a motivation for me to take part in this project for the Centre for BOLD Cities.