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March 01, 2007

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"French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin presided over the inauguration last week of the Paris School of Economics, a new institution that its founders hope will eventually rival economics powerhouses like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the London School of Economics and Political Science." More here.

Cowen adds:

"This is a noble idea, and it has some serious people behind it.  It is often underestimated how much the quality of American higher education drives superior American economic performance, so of course Europe should make moves in this direction. ... Did I mention this is an object lesson in why economic growth is so hard to manage and stimulate? "

A lot to thing about, here. My question, however: Why hasn't anyone created a Washington School of Economics?  The demand - and the talent - are certainly here? The concentration (location quotients) of economists and political scientists in the DC metro is off the charts; and the flow of top people visiting for a day, a week or a term is considerable.  And if not an American entrepreneur institution, why haven't Oxford or Cambridge or another prestigious international institution done something like this in Washington DC? 

Any thoughts?


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mark safranski

"Why hasn't anyone created a Washington School of Economics?"

Because we already have a peer institution in "the Chicago School" at U. of C. that glitters with Nobel prizes in economics like a Christmas tree. London lags behind Chicago in global influence, not the reverse.

"The concentration (location quotients) of economists and political scientists in the DC metro is off the charts; and the flow of top people visiting for a day, a week or a term is considerable"

1st rate economic technicians and analysts are not in the same league as the 1st rate economic theoreticians. Kind of like experimentalists in physics trying to play on the same field with Stephen Hawking, Richard Feynmann etc.


Mark- Good points. Why doesn't Chicago to it to extend its reach. But maybe that's not the point. Why not the Avis's to Chicago's Hertz. And certainly why not Oxford or Cambridge. or Carnegie Mellon where I taught for nearly 20 years. The Carnegie Washington School of Economics and Public Policy comes to mind. Sure there are lots of technicians in DC. And sure, there are big faculty talent clusters in Chicago, Cambridge and the Bay Area. But lots of that talent likes to spend time in Washington. And the market for graduate students and programs is incredible here. So I still can't understand why elite institutions have this market so fallow. Hopkins moved in to do security studies decades ago. Why not applied economics and public policy?


What about George Mason? It appears to be building a strong reputation through ambitious hiring practices and a commitment to communicating its ideas to the public.
Additionally, with its decidedly libertarian streak, focus on free markets and fondness for "imperial economics" Mason emulates many of the features that made U of Chicago successful.

Also, I am puzzled as to why there is not a top-ranked business school in DC. Given the growth in industry in the area I would expect that local corporations would be clamoring for nearby institutions to train their most talented professionals.

Jacob T. Levy

I would say that Johns Hopkins' SAIS (which is located in DC) does most of what you're describing. It doesn't have to be a top-flight *economics* program per se-- just a very strong program in applied social science, including ecxonomics and policy analysis, and to offer (like LSE does) a rigorous Master's program.

The special demand in Washington *isn't* for the chance to pursue a PhD in economic modelling. It's for graduate training in policy, including economic policy. And between SAIS, the Georgetown school of foreign service, and the various programs at GMU and GWU, I think the demand is substantially satisfied.


James - Thanks for the props for Mason. I basically agree. Building here has been smart and fast. One caveat: While my office is in Arlington where the masters program in public policy and the law school are located, most of the economics program and most of Mason is in Fairfax, which is pretty far - especially with the region's horrendous traffic - from DC.

Jacob - The prpgrams you mention are masters'/ professional oriented but slanted toward international relations, security and foreign policy. They are not economics programs. I believe there is considerable demand for applied economics on issues like innovation, technology, globalization and more. I also believe there is demand for research-oriented PhD programs. And as James said the lack of a first-tier business school in a region which is roughly the fourth largest in the US and growing rapidly is even more puzzling.

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