Judit Vall Castello was one of the first PhD fellows at the School of Governance: she joined our Marie Curie European Social Protection PhD programme in 2006, before graduating in 2010 with a dissertation on ‘Business Cycle and Policy Effects on Labour Market Transitions of Older and Disabled Workers in Spain’. We caught up with Judit after she gave a seminar at the School of Business and Economics in early October.
The European Social Protection PhD was an EU programme to create networks for mobile young scholars. It was offered by the School of Governance but teaching staff came from partners across Europe. Looking back, how useful was the programme’s network structure?
Looking back my impression is that the network structure of the programme was great. In fact, I had the opportunity to meet a large number of very good professors and, in fact, I am still in contact with some of them. The courses were very diverse and the level of the instructors extremely high. The students could always talk to all the professors that came to give the lectures and that’s how I met my supervisor. Also, during the last year of the PhD I spent a year as a visiting student at the Toulouse School of Economics in France because one of the instructors accepted to supervise my stay in Toulouse.
The title of your recent seminar ‘The Effect of Changes to the Statutory Minimum Working Age on Educational, Labour and Health Outcomes’ shows you are still active in the area of public policy and labour markets. How has your career developed, where do you work now, and what is your current research focus?
After graduating from Maastricht University I won a Robert Sollow postdoctoral fellowship from the Centre Cournot for Economic Research in France, and I developed the research project at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. I joined the University of Girona from 2011 until 2014 and since September 2014 I have been a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in Health and Economics at Pompeu Fabra University. My research during the PhD was centered on the impact of public policy interventions on labour market outcomes of individuals (particularly disabled individuals). After defending the thesis, I have continued working on this line of research extending the analysis to other disadvantaged groups as well as focusing on other policy interventions. I have also extended my area of research to several projects on health economics, mainly studying the impact of policy interventions on a number of health outcomes.
At your defence your supervisor shared an old Catalan saying: “You are successful if you have a child, a degree and if you plant a tree.” You seem to have it all, so what comes next to keep life challenging?
JVC: Yes, it was my supervisor who mentioned the Catalan saying. Indeed, I can say I have achieved all three: I have two children (Gemma 5 and Joan 3), a degree and my father is a gardener so I have planted some trees while helping him when younger. However, the life of a researcher is always challenging (I think)! There are always new projects, always new co-authors to work with, and new conferences to attend! So no time to get bored!
Flickr / B.Leveque