Reflections of Eminent Economists

Reflections of Eminent Economists

Edited by Michael Szenberg and Lall Ramrattan

In this collection of autobiographical essays, 26 prominent scholars detail their professional development, while offering insight into their lives and philosophies. With candor and humor they relate how they came to the field of economics, as well as how their views have evolved over the years.

Chapter 12: My Life Philosophy

Eli Ginzberg

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology, history of economic thought


* Eli Ginzberg The title of this essay was assigned to me. Perhaps I would have declined the editor’s invitation if I had remembered that my recently published book, The Skeptical Economist, embodies quite a bit of personal history, so much in fact that my wife wanted me not to publish it. Let me explain why I accepted the editor’s invitation. I have had only tenuous connections with my fellow economists since the mid-1930s when I began to teach at Columbia University and even less after 1939 when I went my own way to pursue empirical research in the borderline between economics and psychology in the new field that later was designated as ‘manpower’ or ‘human resources.’ I have attended only two conventions of the American Economic Association since the mid-1930s and my total contributions to the AER, The Proceedings and the Journal of Economic Literature consist of a very few pieces. The fact that I, such a distant and outlying member of the profession, was asked to write a piece in a series to which a number of the nation’s leading economists had earlier contributed was a form of flattery that I could not resist no matter how skeptical I have been, and remain, about the contributions of even our most distinguished contemporary economists. It may help the reader to understand how much of an outlier I am if I list what I failed to learn during my undergraduate and graduate years, all of which were spent at Columbia University...

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