7. Tönu Puu This interview took place on 18 May, 2008, in Harrisonburg, Virginia How did you get into economics? I got interested in economics in high school. I happened to borrow a book by Gustav Cassel (1918) called The Theory of Social Economy, which is an elegant general equilibrium textbook. The book also discusses intertemporal equilibria, and that fascinated me. The grades I got in high school were not very good, so I was limited in what I could study at the university. When I went to the University of Uppsala, I got into a program called ‘politices magister’, which had three compulsory disciplines – political science, statistics and economics. My entire education was at Uppsala. I also received an assistant professorship there. Having no open chair positions, I had to go somewhere else. There were only 15 chairs in economics in all of Sweden. Whenever a position opened there was some competition from people outside of Sweden, but generally they had only Swedish applicants. I got a job at the Umeå University, where later I founded CERUM, the Center for Regional Science. I stayed there until I retired in 2001. At that time, people did not stay at the same university where they got their degrees because there was seldom an opening at one’s school. Things have changed. Today, a committee of experts from other universities is appointed to select the chair holder. The first step is to find if anyone is appropriate for the chair. The second...
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