October 23, 2009
Women in Economics Part II
By Cindy Ivanac-Lillig
In my last blog posting, Women in Economics, I shared the news that a woman, Elinor Ostrom, had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for the very first time. Her work focused on pooled ownership structures as an alternative to private or public ownership structures. Her work was not about testing out mathematical models with empirical data, but rather an attempt to understand complex group behavior and its outcome on certain public goods.
In my last posting, I shared my concern that her award may be downplayed by the mathematicians that have come to define modern-day economics. And sure enough, this has happened. Although perhaps what I didn't foresee was what I would learn from the discussion that has ensued. In some ways, the award has economists questioning the very scope of modern-day economics. Read Nancy Folbre's Economix entry, The Economics Club -- where she discusses how this award has expanded boundaries not only from a gender perspective, but also just as importantly from the academic discipline's perspective.
Added bonuses of Folbre's piece include links to AEA's Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession and the International Association for Feminist Economics.
What are your thoughts about economics as a social science -- have we lost the social part of the science? It is one thing to argue rationality, but quite another to assume that it all can be modeled on your computer.
Posted by Cindy at October 23, 2009 10:20 PM
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There much written about economics becoming too mathematical. I think economics tries to predict human behavior. Economists assume that people are rational, but I don't think that's a valid assumption unless you are working with a large sample. If people always behaved like models predict, then investment firms would make trillions in the stock market.
The Iowa Core Curriculum defines Social Studies in the following way: "The goals of social studies are: 1] understand how social status, social groups, social change, and social institutions influence individual and group behaviors. 2] Understand the functions of economic institutions."
Used in this way, I think economics captures the "social" as well as the business.
Posted by: Mike Fladlien at October 24, 2009 12:03 PM
If mathematics has dominated the study of economics because of its pure quantitive analysis, how come there remains social ills such as alcoholism and domestic violence?
Economics still needs some of the "soft science."
Posted by: Mike Fladlien at October 24, 2009 8:56 PM
I don’t normally comment on blogs.. But nice post! I just bookmarked your site
Posted by: Sofia at June 27, 2011 10:47 AM
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