Economics for the 21st Century

David Warsh has an Economic Principals piece on the direction of the economics profession for the next decade.   Warsh points to a compilation of 55 papers, Ten Years & Beyond: Economists Answer NSF’s Call for Long-Term Research Agendas, posted at the Social Science Research Network.  Charles Schultze from Brookings provides some perspective in the title piece:

The National Science Foundation’s Directorate for the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (NSF/SBE) for challenging economists and other relevant research communities “to step outside of present demands and to think boldly about future promises.” Specifically, NSF/SBE invited groups and individuals in August 2010 to write white papers that describe grand challenge questions in their sciences that transcend near-term funding cycles and are “likely to drive next generation research in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences.” NSF/SBE planned to use these white papers “to frame innovative research for the year 2020 and beyond that enhances fundamental knowledge and benefits society in many ways… We are disseminating the white papers of interest to economists independent of the NSF because these papers offer a number of exciting and at times provocative ideas about future research agendas in economics that are worth further consideration by economists.

There are many titles that look promising, including Deidre McCloskey’s “Language and Interest in the Economy,” which argues that economists should pay more attention to the role of persuasion. A number of us have been plowing through McCloskey’s Bourgeois Dignity, so we certainly welcome a succinct case.

Some other provocative titles include Nicholas Bloom’s “Key Outstanding Questions in Social Sciences,” David Autor and Lawrence Katz’s “Grand Challenges in the Study of Employment and Technological Change,” Randall Krozner’s “Implications of the Financial Crisis,” and Kenneth Rogoff’s “Three Challenges Facing Modern Macroeconomics.”

These are short, generally readable pieces from some of the biggest names in the profession.  This seems like a good place to poke around.