Saturday, March 05, 2011

Lost Knowledge In Economics

Economists' concerns can be expected to change as the world changes. In a serious scholarly discipline, however, such changes in emphasis should be theorized and argued. They should not be just a matter of fads and the following of changes in the political environment. I am not sure economics meets this standard. Anyways, here are examples I came up with today for exploring this question:
  • Managerial theories of the firm (as developed by, e.g., Robin Marris)
  • Markup pricing
  • Sidney Chapman's theory of the length of the working day (as opposed to the textbook analysis of tradeoffs between leisure and commodities) (Derobert (2001), (Spencer 2003), and (Walker 2007)).
  • Co-operatives (Kalmi 2007).
  • Sidney and Beatrice Webb's analysis of labor markets (Kaufman 2008).

  • L. Derobert. "On the Genesis of the Canonical Labor Supply Model". Journal of the History of Economic Thought, V. 23, N. 2 (2001): 197-215.
  • Panu Kalmi. "The Disappearance of Cooperatives from Economics Textbooks". Cambridge Journal of Economics, V. 31 (2007): 625-647.
  • Bruce Kaufman. "How a Minimum Wage Can Improve Efficiency Even in Competitive Labor Markets: The Webbs and the Social Cost of Labor". Andrew Young School of Policy Studies Research Paper Series, Working Paper 08-16 (July 2008).
  • D. A. Spencer. "The Labor-Less Labor Supply Model in the Era Before Philip Wicksteed". Journal of the History of Economic Thought, V. 25, N. 4 (2003): 505-513.
  • Tom Walker. "Why Economists Dislike a Lump of Labor". Review of Social Economy, V. 65, N. 3 (2007).


Anonymous said...

There is a quotation of Dennis Robertson, saying that if you stay in one place long enough, you will see the same theories disappearing, and appearing again.

Anonymous said...

It's like ties or hem-lengths.

Alex said...

Today, while going through Georgescu-Roegen's 'Economics of Production', I noticed that he identifies working day (via Marx) as a significant variable while analysing production, even while using production functions.

Anonymous said...

A working paper version of Kalmi's essay is available at