Economics education needs a revolution

7 Oct, 2020 at 21:28 | Posted in Economics | 1 Comment

mummyYou ask me what all idiosyncrasy is in philosophers? … For instance their lack of the historical sense, their hatred even of the idea of Becoming, their Egyptianism. They imagine that they do honour to a thing by divorcing it from history sub specie æterni—when they make a mummy of it.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Nowadays there is almost no place whatsoever in economics education for courses in the history of economic thought and economic methodology. This is deeply worrying. History and methodology matter! A science that doesn’t self-reflect on its own history and asks important methodological and science-theoretical questions about the own activity, is a science in dire straits.

How did we end up in this sad state?

Already back in 1991, a commission chaired by Anne Krueger and including people like Kenneth Arrow, Edward Leamer, and Joseph Stiglitz, reported from own experience “that it is an underemphasis on the ‘linkages’ between tools, both theory and econometrics, and ‘real world problems’ that is the weakness of graduate education in economics,” and that both students and faculty sensed “the absence of facts, institutional information, data, real-world issues, applications, and policy problems.” And in conclusion, they wrote that “graduate programs may be turning out a generation with too many idiot savants skilled in technique but innocent of real economic issues.”

Not much is different today. Economics — and economics education — is still in dire need of a remake.


More and more young economics students want to see a real change in economics and the way it’s taught. They want something other than the same old mainstream catechism. They don’t want to be force-fed with useless mainstream theories and models.

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  1. Robert Solow skrev ungefär samtidigt med udden riktad mot den s.k. endogena (eller nya) tillväxtteorin::

    Ideally, such modelling decisions should be made in the light of facts./ One could hope for some enlightment from case studies of industries, technologies, and R&D decisions. Even that is not easy: it takes two to tango and the authors of case studies do not like to see theiir insights reduced to terms in a highly-simplified equation. Nevertheless I think the best candidate for a research agenda right now would be an attempt to extract a few workable hypotheses from the variegated mass of case studies, business histories, interviews, expert testimony, anything that might throw light on good ways to model the flow of productivity-increasing innovations and improvements.” (Solow, R., ‘Perspectives on growth theory’, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 8(1), 1994).

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