Research and higher education in economics: can we deliver the Lisbon objectives ?
Can European economics become “the most dynamic and competitive in the world”? Using readily accessible data, the paper documents the following aspects: (i) today, the US outperform Europe by a factor of the order of 3, with no clear trend; the Lisbon goal is not in sight; (ii) Europe is not homogeneous; the UK and the small countries in North-central Europe outperform signiﬁcantly the Big 4 continental countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain); the Big 4 should accept English as the lingua franca of economics, and implement ma jor institutional reforms; (iii) some 30 leading economics departments ( ten from each of these three areas) account for some 70-75% of Europe’s research output; (iv) the concentration of research in leading departments is substantial but not exclusive; it is comparable in Europe and the US, but leading US departments have incomparably more resources and beneﬁt from access to an integrated labour market; (v) few PhD programs are of effcient size, especially in Europe, calling for further concentration; (vi) second-best funding of higher education calls for block grants to effcient programs; in Europe, these should be organised at EU level. I conclude with a mosdest proposal (15 million euros per year) consisting of block grants to leading departments and to young academic researchers. My optimistic verdict is that substantial progress towards the Lisbon goal is at hand, but requires signiﬁcant departures from current practices
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