What Do Economists Contribute?

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Economists direct their research mainly to the technical frontiers of the discipline. But the actual decisions of political economy are made, not by experts, but by ordinary public officials and voters—the "Everyman." However, the task of educating the Everyman is neglected\, sometimes even denigrated, by academic economists.

Daniel Klein has here gathered essays of 9 great economists of this century—Friedrich Hayek, Ronald Coase, Thomas Schelling, Gordon Tullock, Israel Kirzner, Frank Graham, William Hutt, Clarence Philbrook, and D. McCloskey—addressing the existential issue for economists: "How do we contribute to human betterment?"

The authors express their esteem for economic research firmly rooted in public issues and that contributes to public discourse. Some suggest that the academic focus on technical refinement not only diverts economists from efforts at public edification, but might even mislead economists in their own understanding of economic affairs.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Do economists have much influence on government policy, particularly over, say, five or ten years? Probably not. Is that because they don't try hard enough or is it because politicians care more about the next election than about the opinion of economists? In this splendid collection of papers, some published as long ago as the 1930s, nine great economists consider these questions. The editor's illuminating introduction sorts out the area of agreement and disagreement between them."

-Mark Blaug,University of Exeter

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814747223
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1999
  • Series: Cato Institute Book Series
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel B. Klein is Associate Professor of Economics at Santa Clara University. He is co-author of Curb Rights: A Foundation for Free Enterprise in Urban Transit and editor of Reputation: Studies in the Voluntary Elicitation of Good Conduct and What Do Economists Contribute?, available from NYU Press.

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Table of Contents

Notes on the Contributors
1 Introduction: What Do Economists Contribute? 1
2 On the Role of Values in the Work of Economists 27
3 Economists and Public Policy 33
4 On the Decline of Authority of Economists 53
5 'Realism' in Policy Espousal 69
6 How To Do Well While Doing Good! 87
7 The Common Weal and Economic Stories 105
8 What Do Economists Know? 119
9 Economists and the Correction of Error 125
10 On Being an Economist 133
Recommended Works on the Economics
Profession and on Being an Economist 151
Index of Names 155
About the Cato Institute 157
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