11. Robert Boyer 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;...
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