The State of Economics and the Education of Economists
The financial crisis has reinforced a prior debate already taking place among economists about whether the mainstream of their subject was unduly narrow. The additional question now is the extent to which the character of mainstream economics itself bears responsibility for the present crisis. Most economists—whether in the academic, business, finance or policy worlds—reject the wholesale criticisms made by non-economists and ‘heterodox’ economists, but nevertheless do question what aspects of the conventional approach to modelling might have contributed to the profession’s pre-crisis blinkers. While exciting research has long been under way in behavioural economics, in institutional and development economics and in the well-being agenda, this had not gained much traction in the core curriculum. The gap between the interesting questions or real-world problems and the workhorse economics being taught to students at all levels has become a chasm, and a broadening of the undergraduate curriculum is urgently needed.