thinking like an economist

From University of California-Berkeley economist Brad DeLong:

Economics might have developed as a descriptive science, like sociology or political science. If so, courses in economics would concentrate on economic institutions and practices and the institutional structure of the economy as a whole. But it has not; it has instead become a more abstract science that emphasizes general principles applicable to a variety of situations. Thus a large part of economics involves a particular set of tools: a unique way of thinking about the world that is closely linked with the analytical tools economists use and that is couched in a particular technical language and a particular set of data. While one can get a lot out of sociology and political science courses without learning to think like a sociologist or a political scientist (because of their focus on institutional description), it is not possible to get much out of an economics course without learning to think like an economist.

Brad DeLong, “How to Think Like an Economist (If, That Is, You Wish to…)”, Grasping Reality with All Tentacles, 15 July 2017.

This is a long, useful blog for those who would like to understand why, and how, economists reach conclusions that may seem odd to others. We are a weird tribe of nerds!

HT Mark Thoma


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