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What should an economics postgraduate read?

World Book Day has passed but the tendency to create lists of best books and important books persists.

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Some months ago I conducted a (very unscientific) survey on Twitter (my account is here) and among colleagues in the School of Economics at UCC. I asked:

If there was one book that all postgraduate economics students should have read or should read, what would it be?

My twitter feed threw back the following results:

  • The Value of Nothing Raj Patel
  • Thinking Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman
  • The Selfish Gene Richard Dawkins
  • Adapt Tim Harford
  • Debunking Economics Steve Keen
  • Mostly Harmless Econometrics Joshua Angrist and Jorn Stefan Pischke
  • Economics in One Lesson Henry Hazlitt
  • Administrative Behaviour Herbert Simon
  • Guns, Germs and Steel Jared Diamond

My colleagues suggested these:

  • Fifty Major Economists Steven Pressman
  • Fooled by Randomness Nassim Taleb
  • The Commanding Heights Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw
  • General Theory John Maynard Keynes (suggested twice)
  • The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith and The Communist Manifesto Karl Marx (in conjunction)
  • Capitalismand Freedom Milton Friedman
  • The Road to Serfdom F.A. Hayek
  • The Wealth and Poverty of Nations David Landes
  • Development as Freedom Amartya Sen
  • The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith
  • The Worldly Philosophers Robert Heilbroner

Something I noted straight away was the lack of overlap between the lists. Also, the colleagues' list includes generally older books and fewer books that would be critical of economics, such books becoming more fashionable recently for obvious reasons.

Also it is interesting now, having read the calls for more emphasis on the history of economic thought in books such asWhat's the Use of Economics?,how many of my colleagues suggestions are seminal books in the history of economic thought. Perhaps we are more attuned to history that we may appear?

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Posted in Recreation and leisure Post Date 03/11/2017


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