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Learning to Lose a Leg: Casualties of PhD Economics Training in Stockholm


  • Anne D. Boschini
  • Matthew J. Lindquist
  • Jan Pettersson
  • Jesper Roine


The Swedish Economist Assar Lindbeck has recently expressed concern that PhD programs are not educating enough “two-legged†economists. We surveyed all PhD students enrolled at Stockholm University and the Stockholm School of Economics—strong European graduate programs that have adopted the US-style curriculum. The survey response rate was 73 percent, so we place great confidence in the admittedly limited information that the survey does provide: Students enter with a relatively broad academic background, an interest in the social sciences, and a desire to serve the community. They do not enter graduate school with a primary interest in statistics or mathematical work. They find that incentives within the program do not encourage participation in the policy debate. To the extent that new PhDs are “one-legged†economists, it is not because they entered graduate school that way. Our results are remarkably similar to the results of the 1985 survey conducted by David Colander and Arjo Klamer. We consider the possibility that in each case the process that generates expectations of those entering had not caught up to the changes, resulting in palpable dissatisfaction among the currently enrolled students.

Suggested Citation

  • Anne D. Boschini & Matthew J. Lindquist & Jan Pettersson & Jesper Roine, 2004. "Learning to Lose a Leg: Casualties of PhD Economics Training in Stockholm," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 1(2), pages 369-379, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:ejw:journl:v:1:y:2004:i:2:p:369-379

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Krueger, Anne O, et al, 1991. "Report of the Commission on Graduate Education in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(3), pages 1035-1053, September.
    2. Colander, David, 2003. "The Aging of an Economist," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 25(02), pages 157-176, June.
    3. Bruno S. Frey & Reiner Eichenberger, 1993. "American and European Economics and Economists," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 185-193, Fall.
    4. Per Skedinger & Dan Johansson, 2004. "In Sweden, Anti-Globalizationists Dominate Public Discourse, Econ Profs Do Little," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 1(1), pages 175-184, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jonung, Christina & Ståhlberg, Ann-Charlotte, 2006. "The Fruits of Economics - A Treat for Women? On gender balance in the economics profession in Sweden," Working Paper Series 5/2007, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    2. Dan Johansson, 2004. "Economics Without Entrepreneurship or Institutions: A Vocabulary Analysis of Graduate Textbooks," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 1(3), pages 515-538, December.
    3. Benny Carlson & Lars Jonung, 2006. "Knut Wicksell, Gustav Cassel, Eli Heckscher, Bertil Ohlin and Gunnar Myrdal on the Role of the Economist in Public Debate," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 3(3), pages 511-550, September.
    4. Petersen, Verner C., 2005. "The otherworldly view of economics - and its consequences," Working Papers 2005-13, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Management.
    5. Wendy A. Stock & T. Aldrich Finegan & John J. Siegfried, 2006. "Attrition in Economics Ph.D. Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 458-466, May.
    6. Daniel B. Klein, 2005. "The Ph.D. Circle in Academic Economics," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 2(1), pages 133-148, April.
    7. Christina Jonung & Ann-Charlotte Ståhlberg, 2008. "Reaching the Top? On Gender Balance in the Economics Profession," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 5(2), pages 174-192, May.

    More about this item


    Economics education; Ph.D. programs in Economics;

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • A23 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Graduate


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