What’s the Use of Economics? Teaching the Dismal Science after the Crisis

Book: £14.99 (including free P&P within the UK)

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cover_whats_the_use_of_economics_300pxDiane Coyle (ed.)

(Buy this book here from Amazon US or here from the Book Depository (with free international shipping to many countries).)

Click here to watch a Royal Economic Society video featuring contributor Wendy Carlin, on the subject of the reform of the higher education curriculum in economics.

With the financial crisis continuing after five years, people are questioning why economics failed either to send an adequate early warning ahead of the crisis or to resolve it quickly. The gap between important real-world problems and the workhorse mathematical model-based economics being taught to students has become a chasm. Students continue to be taught as if not much has changed since the crisis, as there is no consensus about how to change the curriculum. Meanwhile, employer discontent with the knowledge and skills of their graduate economist recruits has been growing.

This book examines what economists need to bring to their jobs, and the way in which education in universities could be improved to fit graduates better for the real world.  It is based on an international conference in February 2012, sponsored by the UK Government Economic Service and the Bank of England, which brought employers and academics together. Three themes emerged: the narrow range of skills and knowledge demonstrated by graduates; the need for reform of the content of the courses they are taught; and the barriers to curriculum reform.

While some issues remain unresolved, there was strong agreement on such key issues as the strengthening of economic history, the teaching of inductive as well as deductive reasoning, critical evaluation and communication skills, and a better alignment of lecturers’ incentives with the needs of their students.

With outstanding essays from the likes of Andy Haldane, John Kay and Andrew Lo, this book should be read by anyone interested in – or anxious about – what economists do and how economics is taught.
Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist and Adapt
Superb! Diane Coyle has catalysed what is long overdue: candid self-questioning  by economists of a discipline that did not anticipate the crisis and has barely changed since despite its self-evident shortcomings. Some spectacularly good reads. Economics cannot stay the same after this book.
Will Hutton, Principal of Hertford College, Oxford, Observer columnist and Chair of The Big Innovation Centre
This book sets the agenda for the debate by economists and policymakers trying to avoid another financial crisis. The self-critical chapters by top-tier economists and practitioners provide fascinating insights into what went wrong and how the economics profession should reform itself.
Dr DeAnne Julius CBE, Chairman of Chatham House and former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee

Howard Davies, founding chairman of the Financial Services Authority, writes about “Economics in Denial” and discusses the book here.

Larry Elliott, economics editor of The Guardian, writes about rethinking how economics is taught and mentions the book here.

Declan Jordan of the LSE Review of Books gives the book a glowing review here (“highly recommended”), saying: “For anyone involved in teaching economics the calibre of the contributors alone makes this book worthwhile, but it is the quality of the papers that makes it required reading.”

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