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 11: Robert Boyer

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


This interview took place at 48 Boulevard Jourdan in Paris on 18 July, 2007 Tell us a bit about your education and how you came to be an economist. It was by accident. I started at Ecole Polytechnique where I was studying physics and math back in 1962. I planned to become a researcher in physics, but when I had to decide about my career, I realized how obsolete were the teachings of my professors, and simultaneously, how difficult it was to enter research given the small size of the public budget devoted to physics. By chance during that time I had a talented teacher in economics, Jacques Dumontier, an administrator of the national statistical institute (INSEE). For me, but not my fellow students, he was a wonderful teacher. First he would define the concepts. Then he would try to measure them. Then, he would use a deductive method to derive some predictions or consequences. And fourth, he would test this against the data. It was a very scientific way of analyzing (Dumontier, 1970; 1971). For me, it was wonderful; it was like physics, and the opposite of math. Had I been taught general equilibrium theory at that time, I would have never gone into economics. General equilibrium theory is purely axiomatic. It does not relate to reality. It was a fairy tale for children. The focus of the economics I learned was on macro; you don’t need economists to tell you how to run a firm; you just need...

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