A political economy unconcerned with the facts of the real world

These were a sequence of posts on the History of Economics discussion thread.

An economics professor told my daughter, whose B.A. was in economics, that grad school in economics was essentially mathematics.

Your daughter’s professor was and is surely correct. Indeed, it is
probably not an exaggeration to argue that a mathematics undergraduate has
an easier time of it at economics graduate level than their economics
counterpart. This is why we need more history of thought – and I don’t
mean history of mathematics!

I would go further:

Some argue that the culture of mathematics departments has overtaken graduate economics to the extent that realism is of lesser concern than elegance. I saw this culture first hand and when I took graduate mathematics classes as part of my graduate education.


I wonder how long it will be before economics ‘departments’ are housed in
the mathematics faculty. Perhaps it has already happened somewhere.

“I am appalled … by the extent to which there has been a tendency for economics to become a purely abstract branch of mathematics, no longer to be a political economy concerned with the facts of the real world but an intellectual exercise” (Milton Friedman 1985).