LBS economist Jan Libich has a mission. He has been determined to show that economics, often referred to as the dismal science, can be very useful in helping us improve our lives. His newly published book ‘Real-World Economic Policy: Insights from Leading Australian Economists’ is a culmination of his effort so far. It bridges the gap between academic economists, policymakers, students and the general public by exploring how influential economists – including four former central bank Governors/Board members, an ACCC Commissioner, and a current member of the federal parliament and Shadow Minister – use economic research to develop and evaluate policy.
When asked what constitutes this gap between economists and the general public, Jan Libich’s passion for economics shows: “Economics is often portrayed as divorced from the real world; it is criticized for being about boring curve-shifting, equations and heartless definitions. The book attempts to show that such image is not accurate, that economics can help people and policymakers to make better decisions and thus improve their prosperity.”
Real-World Economic Policy: Insights from Leading Australian Economists is based on a series of one-hour video-interviews the author recorded from 2011–2014 , aiming to help the reader identify welfare-improving policies in areas including healthcare, education, retirement financing, monetary and fiscal policies, banking regulation and climate change. Libich explains: “We all make hundreds of decisions every day. Economics attempts to understand how we make them, and whether we can perhaps improve on our decision making to achieve our goals (whatever they may be: economics does not prescribe that money is all we should care about). The same is true at the country level, whereby the quality of public policies can have a major impact on people’s wellbeing.”
In Jan Libich’s eyes, research in economics has been getting more mathematical over time to enable a more rigorous and objective examination of the economy: “It is about discipline, it is easier to see a flaw in logic when one has to clearly state all the assumptions rather than just use verbal arguments. Together with improvements in computing power this enabled exploration of more complicated models and environments.”
However, these developments have also created a gap between what academic research can teach us and what policymakers in government and the general public can understand. “To me, this implies that academic economists need to pay more attention to communicating their findings and recommendations in an understandable and convincing fashion. And to be honest, we have not done that as well as we should have,” Libich says. “My book is a humble attempt in this direction.”
More information on ‘Real-World Economic Policy: Insights from Leading Australian Economists’ can be obtained here.
ISBN: 9780170364386, Published by Cengage Learning Australia, Pub Date: November 2015, © 2016