Friday, January 12, 2007

Self Promotion #394: The Future of the Intellectual Imperialists is Not Dismal and #395: How to Improve Your Love Life

(links to the previous installments: #393 and #392)

The future of the economics, the dismal science, is not so dismal, according to this article in the New York Times. Here's a quip:
"....economists have been acting a lot like intellectual imperialists in the last decade or so. They have been using their tools — mainly the analysis of enormous piles of data to tease out cause and effect — to examine everything from politics to French wine vintages...."

"...As “The Soulful Science,” a new book by Diane Coyle, puts it, there has been a “remarkable creative renaissance in how economics is addressing the most fundamental questions — and how it is starting to help solve problems.”..."
Well, what is certainly not going to be dismal is the future of the thirteen "Economists to Watch" who were featured in the article. Andrew Leigh of the ANU calls them the young guns, although I think Leigh himself is a young gun, certainly one of the top young economists in the southern hemisphere (check out his academic website).

One of the thirteen on the NYT list is Ben Olken, who has done a number of his studies on Indonesia, and his works on corruption, social capital have been discussed in this Cafe (see the links to those discussions here).

An interesting fact about the list is that out of the thirteen economists on it, six of them are married to each other, a clear example of positive assortative mating (ah, this reminds me to do a post on assortative mating in the future).

Examples of positive assortative mating among economists are indeed abound. For my fellow economists whose partners are not really into utility maximization thing, don't give up just yet. There are ways to do it, which brings us to Self Promotion #395: How to Improve Your Love Life.

From Greg Mankiw's blog:
How to Improve Your Love Live

Having trouble satisfying your girlfriend? A reader of this blog emails me his remedy for the problem:
"...You'll be pleased to know that I managed to persuade my girlfriend (a biologist) to buy a copy of your "Principles of Microeconomics" recently here in the UK, so that we could have more informed discussions about interesting economics problems...."
Okay, that;s probably falls into the category of how not to charm your girl/boyfriend. And see also the following letter from a nerd comment in the blog:
".... I'm tempted to try this with my girlfriend. In time she can work up to Romer and Mas-Colell-Whinston-Green. Until then, our love life just won't be complete...."
Err... Oh well, the future is probably dismal after all.

Update: Arya at On Indonesia and the Economy also has a post about the young guns. According to him (I paraphrased), there isn't enough credit being given to economists whose work are as technically sound as those done by the featured economists, have more practical uses, but on topics less sexier than some of those on the list. I think I agree with him.

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  1. Do anybody know why Levitt and the guy who win bates clark medal (I hope the spell in correct) do not in the list? Are thet too old to be categorized in the young guns?

  2. anon: the list is for untenured only.

    btw, they are all econometricians, aren't they?

  3. Roby, a more common term to all of them is "applied economists" or "empirical economists". The studies many of them are doing fall under the category "applied economics", "applied microeconometrics".

    In fact Karlan, Olken, are probably better known as "development economists", the work they do are somewhat typical of what you see in development economics brown bag seminars in top places these days. In fact the level of econometrics they use are at the level that good applied economists should be comfortable with, not necessarily anything fancy.

    The term "econometricians" is usually reserved for those doing econometric theory.

  4. Yo, Ujang....

    No. 1 economist on my watch list right now is Rafael Correa, the recently-elected president of Ecuador, a left-wing guy ('not a Marxist-left, but a Christian-left'... whatever), a graduate of Univ. of Illinois class 2001(surely his grad years coincided with some of you guys here?;))

    I am definitely interested in seeing how he's going to deal with IMF and the World Bank, with free-trade agreement with Washington, with carving a path different from market-oriented, neo-liberal style economics.