The status of economists: The power of self-belief

“IF ECONOMISTS could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people, on a level with dentists, that would be splendid!” said John Maynard Keynes, a British economist. Despite their collective failure to predict the financial crisis, let alone follow Keynes’s injunction, economists are still very influential. They write newspaper columns, advise politicians and offer expensive consulting services to business-folk far more than other academics. A new paper* tries to explain why.One reason, say the authors, is that economists have come to believe that they are superior. A survey in 1985 found that just 9% of graduate students in economics at Harvard strongly believed that economics was “the most scientific of the social sciences”. But as economics became ever more mathematical, its practitioners grew in self-confidence. By 2003 54% of the graduate economists studying at Harvard strongly agreed with the statement. A glance at a popular blog for doctoral students in economics,, gives a taste of the contempt in which its users hold other disciplines. Sociologists “play around with big important ideas without too much effort or…

Link to article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *