Thomas Mayer is a pre-doc teammember for the DEEPEN-project. Thomas holds a double degree (Master of Social Sciences, MSSc) at the University of Linz, Austria and Tampere University, Finland. In this interview, Thomas tells about his previous job and why he decided to join the DEEPEN-project, how he can use his thesis-knowledge during the project, what his personal goal is within the project, and about playing Mario Kart and badminton.
Before you started you PhD at the DEEPEN-project, you worked at the Austrian Chamber of Labour. If you could name one specific reason why you decided to join the DEEPEN-project, what would it be?
Researching funded occupational pensions, which are not very common in Austria and are becoming more important in Germany, is a highly relevant topic. Experiencing political work at the Chamber of Labor showed me, how unimportant occupational pensions are on the political agenda in Austria at the moment, especially since the level of input legitimacy is so low. This observation, and the fact that I wanted to pursue a PhD, are the reasons I wanted to take a look at this in more depth.
For you master thesis, you dealt with individual, occupational and institutional factors, affecting late retirement in Austria and Germany, analyzing the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement (SHARE). How do you use that knowledge now in the DEEPEN-project?
I think my master thesis has helped me a lot with gaining knowledge about pensions in general. I have studied comparative social policy and welfare for my master’s, but writing this master thesis allowed me to focus specifically on improving my skills in quantitative analyses with big datasets (such as SHARE), working out details of public pension systems in two countries, and then comparing those two and reflecting critically on these differences. Having gained this knowledge about public pillars of pension systems is very useful to understand why welfare states would introduce second and third pillars as well as the politics behind it.
What is your personal goal within the project, and what do you like to accomplish?
My main goal is, of course, completing my PhD, and I would like to learn how to publish high quality peer-reviewed articles in popular scientific journals. Also, our DEEPEN team is really cool and, when the time comes, I would like to go on research visits and spend a few months working from and getting to know one of our partner universities. I think that would be fun and I would learn a lot as well.
You said that you like playing video games. What kind of video games do you like?
I don’t play too often any more, I think it comes and goes in phases. I own a Nintendo Switch and like playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and love Super Smash Bros Ultimate. I also like playing cooperative multiplayer puzzle games. My girlfriend and I recently completed the coop mode of Portal 2 and play Deathsquared from time to time. We also play The Witness, but the riddles are very complicated and we’re not too successful (;
And then the last question: I saw on Twitter that you like badminton too. Do you play it as well?
Yes, I love badminton. It’s just such a fascinating sport. I’ve been playing for 6 years now and play two to three times a week usually. I also take lessons from a badminton coach to improve my skills.