Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 13 No. 3 (Summer 1999)


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It's Better Being an Economist (But Don't Tell Anyone).

Article Citation

Freeman, Richard B. 1999. "It's Better Being an Economist (But Don't Tell Anyone)." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 13(3): 139-145.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.13.3.139


This paper contrasts the job market in economics with the job market in physics and mathematics, which attract students who are, by conventional measures, smarter than economists and where the base of knowledge is better established than ours. Despite this, economists earn more and have better career prospects than physicists or mathematicians. The paper offers several reasons for our better economic prospects, ranging from lack of glamour attracting bright young people to the dismal science to our inability to solve important problems, which puts us higher up on the marginal product curve for basic research than these fields.

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Freeman, Richard B. (Harvard U, NBER, and CEPR)

JEL Classifications

J44: Professional Labor Markets; Occupational Licensing
A11: Role of Economics; Role of Economists


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