Thursday, January 10, 2008

Beware the Euronomics. Plus some further thoughts on the economics curricula in Romania and The Netherlands

Retain at least the conclusion of this excellent article (applying, unfortunately, well beyond just France and Germany, within EU or Europe in general), which draws attention to the enormous, though often neglected*, importance of (high) school economics education, with emphasis on the (very real) risks of learning absolute nonsense from state-sponsored economics courses.

"If countries like France and Germany hope to get their nations on a new economic track, they might start paying more attention to what their kids are learning in the classroom".

(HT to Greg Mankiw)

Further remarks: in some very recent EU members, the indoctrination with anti-market bias (or, more so: simply flawed, baseless ideas, debunked decades ago) is carried on within university level economics courses. That is at least doubling the harm, by directly affecting the local would-be economic 'elite'. And yes, I am particularly hinting to the fantastic Romanian economics curricula and textbooks (which I had again the pleasure to talk about, with Romanian economics students and lecturers, in my short recent visit to Romania), designed or written by renowed academic economists with hundreds of published articles... in every morning newspaper (see here an older entry of mine, in Romanian, inter alia counting the total number of peer-reviewed ISI-publications-- ISI set which is enormous and very heterogenous, as we all know, hardly an indicator of quality, when taken as a whole-- within Economics, for 2006, having at least one co-author with a Romanian affiliation-- any university or other research institute in Romania, that is; or see directly on the Ad Astra site precisely which were those articles and where from (some are not even from Econ departments...), for 2005 (2 articles), 2006 (3 articles), 2007 (3 articles)-- btw, these are not typos: the number of articles is indeed for the whole country, for all ISI-recognized Economics journals, for those entire years). Before the economic curriculum gets to be reformed (or, allow me to rephrase: thrown out and started all over, from scratch), take my advice and do all you can to study university level economics somewhere else, anywhere else...

* in some EU countries, such as the Netherlands, the high-school economics curriculum has been recently the topic of intense public debates, hence there "often neglected" (see starting paragraph of this post) does not apply strictly. A government-sponsored commission having among the members some top Dutch academic economists (the head of the commission was Coen Teulings, who-- sort of disclaimer :-)-- also happens to be my PhD advisor and co-author in a couple of projects) was asked to thoroughly investigate the economics curriculum and to come up with an assessment and eventual reform proposals. Their report, entitled "Economie moet je doen" (my translation: "You have to do Economics") can be downloaded here, in PDF format (relevant only for those who can read Dutch; unfortunately, I am not aware of a translation in English). This report has been and to some extent is still under attack by some other (typically older generation) economists from the Netherlands, but I have to say, with the caveat of not having followed all the discussions in this context, that so far I have not found any convincing argument on the critics' side.

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