>I am writing in response to the announcement that the Australian Bureau of
>Statistics is planning to remove the areas of history of economic thought
>and economic history from its calculations of levels of economic research.
> I do this in my capacity as editor of the next edition of the New
>Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. Having spent the last four years
>overseeing the updating of the Dictionary to reflect the current state of
>economics, I can state unequivocally that both areas are of fundamental
>importance to the field as a whole. I can also state that is the opinion
>of the advisory editors of the dictionary, which include a number of the
>world's leading economists.
>Not only is research in economic history and the history of thought of
>intrinsic importance, it is of enormous value to researchers whose work
>does not lie in these areas. For example, the renaissance of growth
>theory has been very heavily influenced by the reconsideration of ideas
>that lie in the domain of history of thought; examples include Smithian
>ideas concerning division of labor, Malthusian ideas on population
>dynamics and Marshallian ideas on externalities. And much of modern
>growth research has employed economic istory both as motivation for new
>theories and as the basis for their empirical evaluation.
>The decision to delegitimize these two areas of economics cannot be
>justified by the current state of the discipline as a whole. I urge you
>to reverse this decision. It both constitutes an injustice to scholars in
>these areas and represents a desiccated and inaccurate portrayal of the
>intellectual content of economics as a field of inquiry.
>Steven N. Durlauf
>Arrow Professor of Economics
>University of Wisconsin at Madison