His research interests are (international) macroeconomics and public finance with special focus on the economics of natural resources and climate change, political economy and development economics. He also has an interest in the economics of culture and higher education reform.
He is an elected Member of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities, a Corresponding Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the European Economic Association, and an elected Member of the Academia Europaea.
Previous academic appointments include Cambridge (1979-83), LSE (1983-88), Tilburg (1985-91), Amsterdam (1991-1998) and EUI, Florence (2003-07). He is former Chief Financial Spokesperson in the Dutch Parliament (1994-1998), State Secretary of Education, Science and Culture of the Netherlands (1998-2002) and Elected Member and Vice-Chair of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee (2002-2007).
He has been on the board of various commercial and non-profit organisations in the cultural sector. He has consulted for the European Commission, the OECD, the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the IMF Institute, the IMF, the World Bank and various governments and private organisations. He has written numerous newspaper columns and presented various programmes including the National Science Quiz on Dutch television.