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 14: My Life Philosophy

Everett E. Hagen

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

Extract

* Everett E. Hagen The sum of what one does in life reveals one’s life philosophy, and reveals it more clearly than does one’s own description of it, though of course all that one does is seldom known. In any event, in this essay one’s own description is called for, and one must do the best one can. The choice of academic life as one’s career, and, within academic life, economics, tells us something, but unfortunately we are not all agreed on what it tells, or what the causes of the choices are. Economists’ philosophies differ. Paul Samuelson suggests that one’s economic philosophy may reflect more of one’s total philosophy – political, ethical, moral – than one knows. But will my discussion of myself reveal hidden secrets? Of course not. Not mine. I accept the assignment with pleasure. More than is true of any other economist writing in this series, I have found it necessary to incorporate noneconomic analysis not merely in explaining myself but in the analysis of many economic problems that interest me. In part this is because my field within economics is economic growth, which has its own logic, but this is not the total explanation, for many other development economists do not think it necessary to step beyond the boundaries of economics. Because the sources of this deviance, as a case in point, may interest other economists and perhaps also any noneconomic readers, one aspect of this brief autobiography will be an attempt to explain how I have come...

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