Friday, September 20, 2019

How to reform the economics Ph.D — Tyler Cowen

Along those lines, I have a modest proposal. Eliminate the economics Ph.D, period. Offer everyone three years of graduate economics education, and no more (with a clock reset allowed for pregnancy). Did Smith, Keynes, or Hayek have an economics Ph.D? This way, no one will assume you know what you are talking about, and the underlying message is that economics learning is lifelong.
Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek were philosophers, and Keynes was a mathematician. Karl Marx, who goes unmentioned even though he influenced the modern world as much as any other, if not more, was also a philosopher. 

All of them influenced economics and also changed the world more profoundly more than any academic economist.  Conversely, Kenneth Boulding was an economist. Dissatisfied with the direction of academic economics, he became a philosopher and co-founded general systems theory.

Ok, these were outliers. Economic training is needed to do the day to day, nitty gritty.

But just what kind of training and how much is needed to do work in economics, including work that is contributory to knowledge? How would that be measured? What are the criteria? Are there hidden assumptions?

Tyler Cowen makes some suggestions but shouldn't something as important as this be studied on the basis of data? And as he points out, it likely applies to other fields as well. Are we sticking to a traditional process in education out of habit even though it could be greatly improved upon, as well as reevaluated for current needs? Have we inadvertently sacralized convention?

Marginal Revolution
How to reform the economics Ph.D
Tyler Cowen | Holbert C. Harris Chair of Economics at George Mason University and serves as chairman and general director of the Mercatus Center


Matt Franko said...

Ship all the Platonists to GITMO and all this goes away...

Matt Franko said...

"shouldn't something as important as this be studied on the basis of data?"

Platonistic method starts with THEORY FIRST... only data that then supports the Theory is ever identified...