Econ Grad Schools — Still Cranking Out What the AEA Called “Idiot Savants”

David Colander (pdf):

“The report of the Committee on Graduate Education in Economics [which the AEA does not make available to the public on line] called for a balancing of breadth and depth in the core. That clearly hasn’t happened; the core focuses more on depth, not breadth. The core courses provide little context for why those techniques that the students are learning are important or why they have developed. The core courses almost never survey the field, nor do they attempt to put the ongoing debates in context. They make almost no attempt to provide knowledge of the field that would translate beyond the particular professor’s approach. Students have little sense of background to the debates or the techniques and do not understand why they developed, and what use they are.Instead, the students are thrown into the particular approach, and a particular technique, and told to learn it.”

Also this:

“a policy-oriented economist [at a Top Ten grad department] .. wrote a question for the core macro exam about the likely effect on the economy of a change in interest rates. Almost all students taking the exam had no idea how to answer it.”

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