Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 7 No. 4 (Fall 1993)


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American and European Economics and Economists

Article Citation

Frey, Bruno S., and Reiner Eichenberger. 1993. "American and European Economics and Economists." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 7(4): 185-193.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.7.4.185


America and Europe differ with regard to what economics is understood to be, how it is practiced, and how professional academic economists behave. Specifically, 1) American (U.S. and Canadian) economists contribute by far the largest share of journal publications and are cited much more often than European economists, while (West-) European economists consider other aspects of their professional activities more relevant, in particular participating in local and national affairs; 2) economic research by Americans tends to focus on abstract issues defined within the profession itself and involves fads, while the activities of European economists (though not necessarily their research) are more concerned with practical issues and follow a more steady course: and 3) American academics are geared to postgraduate teaching, while in Europe they are mostly engaged in undergraduate teaching. These differences can be explained by the different market conditions faced by American and European economists: in America, the academic market is much larger, and the degree of government intervention is typically much smaller. This paper explores how this leads to different focuses for European and American economists. In addition, it asks whether the ongoing economic unification in Europe may not alter these patterns.

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Frey, Bruno S. (U Zurich)
Eichenberger, Reiner (U Zurich)

JEL Classifications

A11: Role of Economics; Role of Economists


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