Monday, November 28, 2005


We all want to look beyond stereotypes but, at the same time, privately (secretly) wonder about what truths they may contain. There are lawyer jokes but there are many lawyers who are among our finest spirits. The same can be said of economists and many others.

If economists tend not to be among the most popular figures on university campuses, does some of the credit go to any of their peculiarities? William B. Walstad and Sam Allgood present "Views of Teaching and Research and Other Disciplines" in the May 2005 Papers and Proceedings of the 170th meeting of the American Economics Assoc.

Based on a large survey of university faculty, the authors report:
"The survey evidence shows that many economics professors at research universities have a low regard for teaching and high regard for research ... " And, "... it is surprising that physical and biological scientists are not nearly as extreme in their views of the teaching and research trade-offs as are economics professors."

I hope that there is a study in the works somewhere that takes a crack at explaining some of the peculiarities of the economists.