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In 2020, the research awards given by the central bank have gone to work on the behaviour of corrupt managers, household inequality, and detecting money laundering. The awards was given out at the museum of the central bank on 17 November.

The winner of the Eesti Pank research award in the category of doctoral work was Gaygysyz Ashyrov of the University of Tartu for the article Role of managerial traits in firm-level corruption. The work considers the connections between corrupt behaviour and the personal characteristics of company managers. It addresses personal characteristics such as risk-taking and interest in innovation, and assesses how they relate to corrupt behaviour, especially bribery. The article by Gaygysyz Ashyrov is the first to analyse this topic using a firm-level dataset.

The Eesti Pank research awards in the category of master’s-level work went to Krista Tarkmees and Kseniia Kasianova. Krista Tarkmees of Tallinn University of Technology wrote her master’s thesis on the unequal distribution of assets between asset classes in Estonian households, and was recognised for her topicality and innovation. The increase in inequality in advanced economies has been one of the main problems of recent decades. The inequality of the distribution of assets across asset classes has not previously been researched in Estonia, and has been little addressed in research in other countries either. The thesis shows that inequality is greatest for business assets and smallest for real estate. The distribution of assets became particularly unequal in 2013-2017.

Kseniia Kasianova of the University of Tartu wrote a master’s thesis on Detecting money laundering using the Hidden Markov Model. It shows that this model has advantages in detecting money laundering over methodologies that have previously been used more commonly such as clustering algorithms. The research work stood out particularly for its current relevance. It is also a good example of how innovative research methods can be used to resolve practical research questions.

The Eesti Pank research award in memory of Urmas Sepp is being granted for the 18th time in 2020. The research competition is intended to bring attention to outstanding research work, encourage scientific work in economics, and to promote studies that can lead to academic degrees. Since 2011 the award has been granted in two categories, one for research leading to a PhD thesis or done as part of doctoral studies, and the other for research leading to a master’s dissertation or done as part of a master’s course.

Urmas Sepp (1956–2002) was the head of the Eesti Pank macroeconomics department, later the economic research department, from 1993.