Heckman Thinks that Economists Who Are Only Economists May Be Dangerous

The Journal of Political Economy, edited by the University of Chicago economics department, is one of the three or four most prestigious journals in the economics profession. For the last 20 years or so (if memory serves) the back cover of each issue has had a funny quote or interesting or unusual anecdote, related to some aspect of economics.
I was surprised to see that the quote from the October 2014 issue as “suggested by James J. Heckman.” Heckman is a Nobel-Prize-winner who is known mainly for developing new econometric techniques in the area of labor economics. When I was a graduate student at Chicago, his graduate students tended to be among those who were most oriented to formalism and technique. So I was surprised to see that he had suggested the following quote from neo-Austrian economist and fellow Nobel-Prize-winner F.A. Hayek:

(p. 463) But nobody can be a great economist who is only an economist—and I am even tempted to add that the economist who is only an economist is likely to become a nuisance if not a positive danger.

Source:
Hayek, F. A. “The Dilemma of Specialization.” In The State of the Social Sciences, edited by Leonard D. White. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1956.
(Note: I do not have the book, and cannot find the page range of Hayek’s article in the book.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.