David Colander has been writing about economic methodology for over 30 years. His pragmatic approach sees applied policy methodology as rooted in what economists actually do, not in what methodologists say they should do. It sees applied policy methodology as constantly evolving as analytic and computational technology changes, evolving far too fast to be subject to any rigid scientific methodology.
That problem is that economists generally think of applied policy analysis as applied science. Colander argues that using a scientific methodology to guide applied policy undermines good policy analysis. Instead, he contends that economists should use a much looser engineering methodology that blends science, heuristics, inescapable moral judgments, and creativity into what he calls the art and craft of economics. Here, Huei-chun Su has selected seventeen of Colander’s articles that spell out and capture his arguments at various levels – some formal academic articles dealing with cutting edge methodology, and some more popular articles making the case for his approach. An original introduction and annotated bibliography serve as excellent resources for further exploring his arguments.
Clear, well-structured, and written in plain English with little jargon, the book is approachable and suitable for anyone interested in the current and future state of economics and the economics profession. This includes students at any level as well as methodologists, applied economists, historians and critics of modern economics.
David C. Colander, Distinguished College Professor, Middlebury College, US and Huei-chun Su, Institute for New Economic Thinking, University of Oxford, UK.