Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Odd New Chairman of the Harvard Economics Department

David Laibson is the new chairman of the Harvard economics department, replacing Greg Mankiw.

Laibson isalso  the Robert I. Goldman Professor of Economics in the Department. Laibson is also a member of the National Bureau of Economic Research, where he is Research Associate in the Asset Pricing, Economic Fluctuations, and Aging Working Groups.

But I'm not sure Laibson even knows what economics is. Most of his work has been in behavioral economics, which has as much to do with economics, as does home economics.

To be sure there is a science of behavioral economics, but it falls in a category somewhere between psychology and consumer marketing.

He also has written a lot about behavioral genetic theory:

Chabris CF, Hebert BM, Benjamin DJ, Beauchamp JP, Cesarini D, van der Loos MJHM, Johannesson M, Magnusson PKE, Lichtenstein P, Atwood CS, Freese J, Hauser TS, Hauser RM, Christakis NA, Laibson DMost Reported Genetic Associations with General Intelligence Are Probably False Positives. Psychological Science 2012;23:1324-1336. PDF

Benjamin DJ, Cesarini D, van der Loos MJHM, Dawes CT, Koellinger PD, Magnusson PKE, Chabris CF, Conley D, Laibson D, Johannesson M, Visscher PMThe Genetic Architecture of Economic and Political Preferences. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2012;109(21):8026-8031. PDF
  And he recently published:
The Fourth Law of Behavior Genetics
Again, there certainly is a science worthy of study that can be considered  behavioral genetic theory but it has nothing to do with economics.

Liabson is as away off as Richard Thaler.


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