Dr. Diane Doyle runs the consultancy Enlightenment Economics. She is a BBC Trustee and member of the Migration Advisory Committee and of the independent Higher Education Funding Review panel, and was for eight years a member of the Competition Commission (until September 2009). She is also visiting professor at the University of Manchester. She has a PhD from Harvard.
This article is published here in by permission of Vox. (voxeu.org)
Five years after Lehman’s collapse, economics is under fire both from outside and inside the profession for irrelevance, arrogance and more. This column introduces a new Vox debate focused on two questions: What’s the use of economics, and how should we be teaching it to the next generation?
If economics emerges from the Global Crisis unchanged, it will lose all credibility. That is certainly not the view of all economists, but many do think so. There are plenty of examples of criticism of our subject from within and without. Some are ill-informed rants, but others – such as the recent article ‘Economics in Denial’ by Howard Davies (2012), founding chairman of the Financial Services Authority – must be taken seriously.
However, it is not obvious what shape an effective response to even well-founded criticisms could take. After all, engaging in a professional debate about the content and methodology of economics, supported by research, will take years.
One starting point, identified at a conference organized by the Bank of England earlier this year, is the teaching of economics, beginning with the undergraduate level. Participants included both employers of economists (including the Bank and the Government Economic Service) and academic economists. A book with the pre-conference papers and papers by conference participants is published this month (What’s The Use of Economics: Teaching The Dismal Science After The Crisis, London Publishing Partnership).