Thanks to Greg Mankiw, I’ve seen a preview of the piece by Sam Bowles and Wendy Carlin that will be published in a forthcoming Journal of Economic Literature. It’s apparently part of a roundtable on the teaching of introductory economics, and not surprisingly Bowles and Carlin focus on the freely downloadable CORE text produced with support from the Institute for New Economic Thinking. The starting point of their article is the revolution in economic textbooks inaugurated by Paul Samuelson in 1948, when Keynesian analysis and policy became the centerpiece of what every introductory student was expected to know. Today, they say, we need a new revolution, since the introductory texts are equally out of date and fail to grapple with the issues students rightly care about.
Much of the article is taken up with a detailed comparison of their text to two leading competitors, those of Mankiw and Krugman/Wells. They use frequency of word use to contrast the relative importance of different topics and describe in a more general way the key benchmark models that structure the alternative narratives. They make the point that major changes in economic theory, such as greater behavioral realism, the relevance of institutions and the role of game theory, are largely absent from the mainstream texts but fundamental to CORE’s.
Of course, I strongly urge everyone one of you who happens to be an economics instructor to check out CORE. It brings together the thoughts of a number of leading economists on how to make frontier concepts accessible to novices. It is intellectually stimulating, and the price is right.