Economist Spotlight: Interview with Alan B. Krueger, Part Seven

POSTED: February 27, 2014 | BY: Daniel Thompson | TAGS: ,

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This is the seventh in an eight-part series of CEE’s Economist Spotlight with Dr. Alan B. Krueger.

Dr. Krueger, the Bendheim Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at the Wilson School at Princeton University and former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, is the author of the newly published textbook, Explorations in Economics. In this spotlight series, Alan will address topical issues including unemployment benefits, increased job growth, minimum wage legislation, investment in human capital, and more.

The interviews were conducted by 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Teaching Champions Awardees, Kathleen Brennan and Saji James.

Kathleen Brennan:

Q. What advice would you give a high school student about the value of pursuing a degree in economics? Is there anything significant in your academic career that made you choose economics as your major?

Alan Krueger:

A.  I try to emphasize in the Explorations in Economics textbook that economics provides a powerful framework for making rational decisions. This framework is useful in many fields. Studying economics teaches students to use the framework of marginal decision making, and helps them to understand the world around them. This is extremely useful if one wants to work in business, economics, law, public policy, medicine, or many other fields, or if one just wants to understand the world around them and be a well-informed citizen. I included many interviews with fascinating and influential people in the book (including Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball, and Esther Duflo, founder of MIT’s Poverty Action Lab) so they could explain to students how economics has mattered in their lives and careers.

I was only vaguely familiar with economics when I started college. The economics class in my high school was not very good, so I took an extra history course instead. In history class in high school I read Robert Heilbroner’s “The Worldly Philosophers” which piqued my interest in economics, but that was all I knew about the subject when I graduated high school. When I started college I fully expected to become a lawyer. But then I took economics as a freshman and was hooked. I thought economics provided the best framework for thinking about the policies that could help improve the quality of people’s lives and solve society’s problems. Studying economics provided me with a new lens with which to the view the world, and I have never regretted becoming an economist instead of a lawyer.

The next Economist Spotlight: Interview with Alan B. Krueger will publish March 3, 2014.

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