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Thread: Should I get an advanced degree in Econ if I want to learn how to develop?

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    Should I get an advanced degree in Econ if I want to learn how to develop?

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    Should I get an advanced degree in Economics if I want to learn how to develop and grow (improve the livelihoods) an impoverished region in the world and turn it into a regional super-power, either a city, a state, or a country?

    I really am trying to decide on a graduate program that would best give me the skills towards doing this whether it be Finance, Economics, Business Administration, etc.

    But I am really confused as towards which discipline would help me in this.

    Thanks any and everyone for any advice!

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    Re: Should I get an advanced degree in Econ if I want to learn how to develop?

    This sounds a lot like Developmental economics. There are some schools that are strong in this area. As to whether you require postgraduate qualifications to learn, I don't think so. If you want your ideas heard, qualifications tend to add stock to what you say and make people more interested in what you propose.

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    Re: Should I get an advanced degree in Econ if I want to learn how to develop?

    Quote Originally Posted by tutonic View Post
    This sounds a lot like Developmental economics. There are some schools that are strong in this area. As to whether you require postgraduate qualifications to learn, I don't think so. If you want your ideas heard, qualifications tend to add stock to what you say and make people more interested in what you propose.
    Oh awesome! Thank you so much!
    It is surprising that you say post-graduate qualifications aren't necessary in learning this!

    Usually the advice given over the internet is that Economics at the undergraduate level is completely useless, and that in order to understand anything at least a Master's is needed!

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    Re: Should I get an advanced degree in Econ if I want to learn how to develop?

    I feel the need to qualify my statement made earlier. You don't strictly need postgraduate qualification to study it. You can read up and learn on your own. It's just that if you're looking into doing meaningful work and hoping to effect change at a higher level (presumably in your own country), then no one will take advice from a measly graduate with a bachelor. Getting a PhD will lend some credibility in the stuff you suggest, assuming you intend to enter policy work.

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    Re: Should I get an advanced degree in Econ if I want to learn how to develop?

    Sounds like you'd be better off studying politics, public administration, or public policy, to be honest.

    Economists are positive researchers. The work you do in an Econ program focuses on what is not what ought to be or how to alter it to be the way you wish. I'd recommend you read William Easterly's "Tyranny of Experts," Jonathan Katz's "The Big Truck That Went By," or Nina Munk's "The Idealist" to understand how economists would view the ideas you propose.

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    Re: Should I get an advanced degree in Econ if I want to learn how to develop?

    Econ Ph.D. is the most useful program in development economics field, since you can place yourself inside academia as well as outside academia (ex. intergovernmental organization, think tank and other NGOs). Also, If you want to be a scholar in the development front (ex. Banerjee, Duflo, Karlan), then Econ Ph.D. is must.

    Otherwise, there are other graduate programs which are still useful in development area. A lot of economists with non-econ degree (ex. public policy, information science, etc.) are conducting researches and publishing papers. If you are more interested in field work than in theories, then non-econ programs are also great options to consider.

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    Re: Should I get an advanced degree in Econ if I want to learn how to develop?

    Quote Originally Posted by tm_member View Post
    Sounds like you'd be better off studying politics, public administration, or public policy, to be honest.

    Economists are positive researchers. The work you do in an Econ program focuses on what is not what ought to be or how to alter it to be the way you wish. I'd recommend you read William Easterly's "Tyranny of Experts," Jonathan Katz's "The Big Truck That Went By," or Nina Munk's "The Idealist" to understand how economists would view the ideas you propose.
    Sorry but are you sure about this? I just got through meeting two economists who work at the IMF who just released a book studying how best to develop the Caribbean as a regional economic super-power! They trekked everything from how to deal with crime, to different energy sources each Caribbean country should tap into to make their region more competitive with the rest of the world.

    Both of them were PhD Economists.

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    Re: Should I get an advanced degree in Econ if I want to learn how to develop?

    Quote Originally Posted by eatorange View Post
    Econ Ph.D. is the most useful program in development economics field, since you can place yourself inside academia as well as outside academia (ex. intergovernmental organization, think tank and other NGOs). Also, If you want to be a scholar in the development front (ex. Banerjee, Duflo, Karlan), then Econ Ph.D. is must.

    Otherwise, there are other graduate programs which are still useful in development area. A lot of economists with non-econ degree (ex. public policy, information science, etc.) are conducting researches and publishing papers. If you are more interested in field work than in theories, then non-econ programs are also great options to consider.
    This is excellent! Thanks for this! Unfortunately yes I am interested in doing field work as well which makes my path quite difficult to decide! Currently it's a toss up between Economics PhD and PublicPolicy. Public Policy seems a tad bit too fluffy but at least the bulk of the discipline involves actively putting forth solutions to issues of economic and social inequality. I'm not sure if Economics as a whole really concerns itself with such things.

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    Re: Should I get an advanced degree in Econ if I want to learn how to develop?

    Quote Originally Posted by fmill019 View Post
    Sorry but are you sure about this? I just got through meeting two economists who work at the IMF who just released a book studying how best to develop the Caribbean as a regional economic super-power! They trekked everything from how to deal with crime, to different energy sources each Caribbean country should tap into to make their region more competitive with the rest of the world.

    Both of them were PhD Economists.
    One thing to consider, writing a book about theoretically developing a country is different from actually developing a country. Anyone can speculate about the effects of their policy recommendations. If that is what you want to do, development economics is for you and a PhD in economics is the path to getting paid to make those speculations. This path is also good if you want to make marginal contributions to development like improving efficiency of microfinance or charities. If you want to actually develop a country, you should prepare yourself for success in whatever political mechanism the target country uses to allocate power.

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    Re: Should I get an advanced degree in Econ if I want to learn how to develop?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmac3 View Post
    One thing to consider, writing a book about theoretically developing a country is different from actually developing a country. Anyone can speculate about the effects of their policy recommendations. If that is what you want to do, development economics is for you and a PhD in economics is the path to getting paid to make those speculations. This path is also good if you want to make marginal contributions to development like improving efficiency of microfinance or charities. If you want to actually develop a country, you should prepare yourself for success in whatever political mechanism the target country uses to allocate power.
    I guess I'm just a little confused on what you mean by "if you want to actually develop a country". Isn't giving the best policy recommendations possible to a country also "actually developing" that country? And by political mechanism are you referring to political parties and becoming a politician? I wouldn't hate to be a politician. Playing an analyst role is my forte.

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