Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Does F.A. Hayek belong in High School Economics?

Justin Wolfers of Freakonomics Fame wrote a post on his blog that the recent Texas Board of Education to include Hayek among the featured economics writers in their curriculum was wrong. I disagree. Wolfers argues that using a standard social science search engine (J-Stor) that Hayek comes up about the same number of times in citations that Larry Summers does (and no one would rate him as an essential economist).

I would argue that a) Hayek does belong and b) the statistic of J-Stor citations is phony/funny. Hayek's influence came in two ways - first he was a first rate academic economist. He won the first Nobel. But more importantly the exchanges he had with Keynes in the Bloomsbury group (where most people think he demolished Lord Keynes) are legendary. So while he may not be cited as much his influence as a scholar is important not just in economics but in social thought. Second, some of his most important writing was not for other academics. The Road to Serfdom is not a great book but it was/is influential in pointing out the folly of social engineering. Between those two contributions to inside the profession and outside - he belongs there.

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