European Economics at a Crossroads

European Economics at a Crossroads

J. Barkley Rosser Jr, Richard P.F. Holt and David Colander

As Europe moves toward an integrated academic system, European economics is changing. This book discusses that change, along with the changes that are happening simultaneously within the economic profession. The authors argue that modern economics can no longer usefully be described as ‘neoclassical’, but is much better described as complexity economics. The complexity approach embraces rather than assumes away the complexities of social interaction.

Chapter 1: European Economics at a Crossroads

J. Barkley Rosser Jr, Richard P.F. Holt and David Colander

Subjects: economics and finance, economics of education, methodology of economics, education, economics of education


INTRODUCTION European economics is at a crossroads. Because of the Common European Educational Policy and the influence it is exerting, the institutions of European academia are changing. Funding and advancement criteria that in the past were considered almost unchangeable are now in play. The result is a jockeying for funds and power. Within this jockeying there is a push by some of the elite of the European economics profession to create a European economics that is both separate from American economics, but is also competitive with it. How the jockeying plays out will play a big role in guiding the future direction of the European economics profession, and more generally, we believe, the future direction of economics. What makes this all the more interesting is that European economics has arrived at its crossroads at the same time as the economics profession is itself changing; the neoclassical approach based on the holy trinity of rationality, greed and equilibrium is giving way to a less rigid trinity of bounded rationality, enlightened self-interest and sustainability. In a recent book (Colander et al., 2004a) we discussed these changes in economics, and argued that the interesting developments in the profession are occurring at the edge of the mainstream,1 where innovative cutting edge economists are breaking with old traditions, and are changing the face of economics. The changes that are occurring in the economics profession are being driven by changing analytic, computing and statistical technology, which allows economists to use much more sophisticated modeling techniques...

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