Mathematics, Models and Reality in Microeconomics


Have economists fallen in love with an idealized vision of an economy in which rational individuals interact in perfect markets? To what extent is standard microeconomics responsible for this state of affairs?

As I see it, the economics profession went astray because economists, as a group, mistook beauty, clad in impressive-looking mathematics, for truth. (…) But while sabbaticals at the Hoover Institution and job opportunities on Wall Street are nothing to sneeze at, the central cause of the profession’s failure was the desire for an all-encompassing, intellectually elegant approach that also gave economists a chance to show off their mathematical prowess.

Do you agree? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Three years ago, we started working on our blog “Reading Mas-Colell” to present critical commentary on “Microeconomic Theory” by Andreu Mas-Colell, Michael Whinston and Jerry Green, a textbook widely used in Ph.D. programs in economics around the world. We are happy to announce that we are now ready to launch our new course ” Advanced Microeconomics For The Critical Mind”. The course aims to introduce interpretative and contextual content to provide exposure to microeconomics as a domain of unsettled questions and live debates, rather than just a field of applied mathematics.

Please join us in the course for more discussion on the role of mathematics and modeling in microeconomics.

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