Monday, June 4, 2007

The Making of an Economist

David Colander's The Making of an Economist: Redux was recently published by Princeton University Press, which may serve as a version 2.0 of his 1987 paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

In The Making of an Economist version 1.0, Colander and his co-author Klamer provided some empirical data from the graduate students at six top-ranking economics department, which allow us better to understand the process that shapes economists. Some results are still worthy of mentioning.

Specifically, there was a significant variety of opinions among graduate economics students and among the schools in the survey, and there definitely seemed to be a Chicago school of economics. While Chicago definitely constituted a specific school, Harvard students appeared to be most skeptical, and Stanford students place themselves in the spectrum of opinions between Chicago and MIT students.

There were also tensions between the emphasis on techniques and the desire to do policy-oriented work. Techniques were put far more emphasis on than the understanding of the economy or economics literature.

This paper partly supported the views of critical economists such as Wassily Leontief and John Kenneth Galbraith, "Departments of economics are graduating a generation of idiots savants, brilliant at esoteric mathematics yet innocent of actual economic life."

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