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It's Better Being an Economist (But Don't Tell Anyone)

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  • Richard B. Freeman

Abstract

This paper contrasts the job market in economics with the job market in physics and mathematics, which attract students who are, by conventional measures, smarter than economists and where the base of knowledge is better established than ours. Despite this, economists earn more and have better career prospects than physicists or mathematicians. The paper offers several reasons for our better economic prospects, ranging from lack of glamour attracting bright young people to the dismal science to our inability to solve important problems, which puts us higher up on the marginal product curve for basic research than these fields.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard B. Freeman, 1999. "It's Better Being an Economist (But Don't Tell Anyone)," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 139-145, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:13:y:1999:i:3:p:139-145 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.13.3.139
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.13.3.139
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Panagiotis G. Mavros, 1995. "Do Doctoral Students' Financial Support Patterns Affect Their Times-To-Degree and Completion Probabilities?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(3), pages 581-609.
    2. Ehrenberg, Ronald G, 1992. "The Flow of New Doctorates," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 830-875.
    3. Jerry R. Green, 1993. "Future Graduate Study and Academic Careers," NBER Chapters,in: Studies of Supply and Demand in Higher Education, pages 145-182 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Kasper, Hirschel, et al, 1991. "The Education of Economists: From Undergraduate to Graduate Studies," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 1088-1109.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christian Grimm & Jakob Kapeller & Stephan Puehringer, 2017. "Zum Profil der deutschsprachigen Volkswirtschaftslehre: Paradigmatische Ausrichtung und politische Orientierung deutschsprachiger Oekonom_innen (On the current state of German-speaking Economics: Para," ICAE Working Papers 70, Johannes Kepler University, Institute for Comprehensive Analysis of the Economy.
    2. Arne HEISE, 2016. "‘Why has economics turned out this way?’ A socio-economic note on the explanation of monism in economics," The Journal of Philosophical Economics, Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, The Journal of Philosophical Economics, vol. 10(1), pages 81-101, November.
    3. M. Fourcade & E. Ollion & Y. Algan., 2015. "The Superiority of Economists," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 7.
    4. Marion Fourcade & Etienne Ollion & Yann Algan, 2015. "La superioridad de los economistas," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 17(33), pages 13-43, July-Dece.
    5. Song, Moohoun & Orazem, Peter F. & Wohlgemuth, Darin, 2008. "The role of mathematical and verbal skills on the returns to graduate and professional education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 664-675, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations
    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists

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