Frank Flatters: About


My academic career was always based at Queen's, but included breaks to teach at University of Chicago and University of Essex, and to take research posts at London School of Economics, University College London, Harvard Insititute for International Development (HIID) and Harvard Law School. My research has covered a range of areas in "applied welfare economics" including trade, public economics and corruption. Fundamental academic contributions in fiscal decentralization, cost-benefit analysis and corruption have been widely quoted and reprinted.

In 1983 I took temporary leave to became an advisor and later resident director of an HIID project in Indonesia. Funded by the Government of Indonesia, we worked with the senior economic ministers in developing and implementing a far-reaching policy reform program. The ministers were among the finest anywhere. Working with them gave me a whole new education in economics, politics and policy. What began as a one year experiment turned into 3 years of residency and a further 12 years with this and other HIID projects. After returning to Queen's I directed CIDA-funded collaboration programs with new research institutes in Malaysia (MIER) and Thailand (TDRI).

I continued to work in both Asia and Africa on issues ranging from tax and fiscal reform to macroeconomic management, trade policy and corruption. In Asia I worked in almost all ASEAN countries, including the newer members, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, and spent small amounts of time in China and Nepal. My focus then shifted to Africa where I worked in Kenya and Ghana but spent most of my time in southern Africa, including all Southern African Customs Union (SACU) countries, and many of the members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

In 2002 I took early retirement from Queen's and moved to Bangkok. Thailand became my base for research, writing and travel. My work continued to have a large focus on training and mentoring in policy analysis.



I was born in England and grew up in Ottawa. While I stopped playing ice hockey many years ago, I have found some enjoyable substitutes in swimming, squash and cycling. The latter has involved some wonderful rides in Thailand and Europe. Here are some charts, maps and data on my first serious bike ride in Spain's Picos de Europa in 2004, and similar data for a trip in Italy in the fall of 2006 and a ride in Andalucia in 2009.

My life and career have been both lucky and unpredictable. Economics was a happy accident—the result of encountering Carleton University's Professor Scott Gordon at a high school seminar. Similarly, an invitation pried from Harry Johnson for a 4 AM job interview at the American Economic Association Meetings at the time of my graduation, followed by Robert Mundell's surprise resignation several months later, led to a visiting appointment at the University of Chicago—the world's most exciting and democratic intellectual environment.

My focus is now almost entirely on extracurricular activities like those already mentioned, as well as photography, music and similar pursuits. But this does not mark an end to my interest in economic policy, or to my willingness to offer free advice and opinions when provoked or otherwise inspired.