In 2016, Christian Dustmann, Bob Gregory, and Xin Meng had a vision to create a society that promotes research and cooperation in Labour and Applied Economics across Asia and Australasia. The idea became a reality when the Australian National University offered to financially support that initiative and to host the first AASLE conference in Canberra in December 2017. The conference was a huge success, with more than 400 people attending, and with invited and keynote lectures given by David Card, Swati Dhingra, Edward Lazear, Stephen Machin, Thomas Lemieux, Justin Yifu Lin, and Yasuyuki Sawada. At that conference, the first executive board meeting of AASLE took place, where the future path of the society was discussed.
The next step was to find a legal home for AASLE and to draw up a constitution. After considering different options, Singapore seemed to be the best home for the society and Jessica Pan together with Christian worked with a law firm on the legal set up. In the years that followed, AASLE hosted successful meetings in Seoul (organized by Jungmin Lee) and Singapore (organized by Jessica Pan). In 2020 AASLE joined the World Conference on Labour Economics in Berlin for the first time, establishing the society as the third labour economics society, following SOLE and EALE, to represent the Asian and Australasian regions.
Since the early beginnings, AASLE has started many new initiatives. To honour Bob Gregory’s lifetime achievements, the Bob Gregory Keynote Lecture was introduced at the 2019 Conference. At that same conference, the first AASLE job market session was launched to help young scholars and recruiters in the Asian and Australasian regions.
AASLE is an umbrella for research and communication of scholars from Asia and Australasia, and facilitates interaction with other parts of the world, through the sister organizations in Europe and the US, EALE and SOLE and other initiatives. The annual AASLE conference is set to be a gathering that will support these efforts, as well as encourage discussion and exchange around research, policies and applications in labour economics.
But of course, what AASLE can be for our community depends on what we make of it. As more people participate in this endeavour, our initiatives will achieve greater success. We therefore encourage everyone interested in applied and labour economics to join our society and to help continue its success by participating in our conferences and working with us on new initiatives.
Christian Dustmann, Jungmin Lee and Jessica Pan
(President, Treasurer and Secretary of AASLE, April 2021)