In search of home grown economists and phd education

The crisis has hardly left anytime to do anything else. However, I have noticed one thing. No matter how much we criticise US based economists, they seem to be the only alternative.

Infact, after every crisis we blame these economists for either not able to predict the events correctly (like in this crisis) or for giving wrong advice (IMF economists were criticised in SE Asian and Latam crisis). Despite all this, it is the same economists who continue to be heading the various committees/programs in the emerging economies that criticised them.

Taking a look at various conferences going around the world on the crisis ( Bank of Thailand, Bank of Chile, Bank of Argentina) all you get is ideas from the standard economists. This is not to say they are bad or anything. Infact all of them are quite brilliant and deserve all the kudos for their superb research work through many years. The idea is why are there fewer economists in other countries? Why can;t we see economists from Thailand, Chile and Argentina in majority in conferences sponsored by their central banks?

I don’t know the reasons for other economies but for India it is pretty straight-forward. First, the phd education in India is pretty poorly incentivised. The incentives were ok when people didn’t get jobs but not applicable anymore. Even in India’s ivy leagues there is hardly an incentive for anyone to pursue a phd, whereas post-graduation programs are a big hit.

Second, the benefits of a phd program itself is questionable. It requires a  number of years and then one does not know where is he/she headed. Someone who does a phd in India hardly gets any recognition in India itself. Check committees set up by Indian government and you realise most are headed/membered by economists having foreign degrees. All he/she gets do is teach at a university and participate in some conferences/paper discussions. The overall exposure to a US educated economist is well-known. A phd from an Indian elite University/Institute does not give a good signal at all

Third, there is hardly any effort by even India’s ivy leagues to popularise their docotoral programmes. All you get is an annual advertisement for application. The normal post graduate program gets enough soundbytes.

Fourth, the application process for phd is pretty cumbersome and takes away a lot of time of the applicant. It involves numerous visits to the concerned university. Internet and emails have helped but still the process could be eased.

Any other please let me know your comments.

All this leads to huge problems in area of economic research. You hardly come across any research paper written by an Indian Prof (if at all) mentioned as a reference by anyone even for research in India (See my post here).  In case for any policy design, the reliance on foreign economists becomes but natural. And then there are always issues of foreign economist not understanding Indian context etc.

We have the best team at the Centre who would know the importance of economic research and the need to have good, well-known researching economists in the country. But, there have been hardly any attempts  to improve the standards.  The outcome is not good at all.


4 Responses to “In search of home grown economists and phd education”

  1. » Blog Archive » In search of home grown economists and phd education Says:

    […] The crisis has hardly left anytime to do anything else. However, I have noticed one thing Read more […]

  2. Needed: Home grown economists at Blogbharti Says:

    […] western economists who probably should share a part of the blame for the current economic crisis, Amol Agrawal explores the reasons why the Indian education system doesn’t produce enough researchers in […]

  3. Bernanke Profile; US-based vs Others-based economists « Mostly Economics Says:

    […] vs other economist ios a worthy debate. Why don’t other places produce as good economists? In search of home grown economists and phd education is relevant to […]

  4. Joyce Says:

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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