The Paris School of Economics

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin presided over the inauguration last week of the Paris School of Economics, a new institution that its founders hope will eventually rival economics powerhouses like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Here is much more, and note that the institution will be unencumbered by many French civil service restrictions.  This is a noble idea, and it has some serious people behind it.  It is often underestimated how much the quality of American higher education drives superior American economic performance, so of course Europe should make moves in this direction.  But can this graduate school succeed?  Until the European job market offers comparable opportunities to the United States (also known as systematic higher education reform), why pursue this Ph.d., only to be yanked away from the glorious land of non-pasteurized cheeses and sent to toil in Berkeley, Austin, or Princeton?

Did I mention this is an object lesson in why economic growth is so hard to manage and stimulate?  Thanks to Jacob Levy and Scott Cunningham for pointers.


I wonder whether the PSE will be teaching in English? If they are serious about becoming an international center, they will need to.

Anyone else read the headline and think it was going to be some sort of joke?

Anyone else read the headline and think it was going to be some sort of joke?

That was my first thought too.

More flexibility for hiring and firing in the Universities?
Are bad professors often fired in US?
Then what are the criteria to measure the badness of professors?
In India even a university professor who is a lemon can continue in service till he retires at the age of 58 or 60 (in my State, college professors retirement age is 55).Communal and caste reservation is followed in the recruitment of professors and teachers in India and their achievements play a small role.So lemon professors abound in Indian universities leading a happy life and earning good money through travel allowances, dearness allowances etc.They are rent-seekers influencing the awarding of fellowships and scholarships and thereby fetching a nice amount.Along with the community and caste barriers, they impose several other barriers to effectively limit the entry of new people by engaging in lobbying and the like.They capture foreign fellowships and travel grants by influencing the Government's Human Resource and Higher Education ministries.

Well GVV, in America we have created a caste in our university system with Tenure. we can all thank John Dewey for this.

but it dosn't sound quite as bad here as in India.
Tenure is tough to attain across fields. University department heads understand the risks invovled with granting tenure.

to thehova,

It is very difficult for an upper-caste candidate to enter into university jobs and for jobs in govt. deprtments in India.There is a 50:50 quota system.Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes receive a fixed percentage and other backward castes, muslims,latin-catholics and other eligible communities receive their share.The hapless forward castes regardless of their financial background receive only the remaining.For example, in the rank list suppose that a forward caste candidate is no:2.Due to communal rotation system, she will not be posted as the second person.She will be posted as ,for example, tenth or twelfth.This very much affects her seniority also.Backward caste candidates who rank low will become senior to her!
The situation is worst for upper-caste Hindu minorities.Christians (except latin catholics, anglo-Indians and the like)have no reservation like upper caste Hindus but they have their quota in Colleges and Institutes run by numerous church-religious groups.Upper caste Hindus suffer too much and it is a common thing that an engineering graduates from them often becoming lower division clerks or even peons and attenders leading to involuntary downward occupational mobility.
It seems, therefore, that anybody studying unemployment problem in India has to take care of the protection granted to some sections of the society in the name of social justice.

Top schools, including INSEAD (where instruction is in English), hire from around the world. Will the Paris School?

Maybe, one should take the director Thomas Piketty under consideration. Piketty's book on "économie des inégalites" is horrible. Irrelevant statistic observations, absurd deductions (we have to raise minimum wage in order to increase the level of employment, because more people will be attracted by a higher salary; if capital and labor are in a constant relationship (ex. 1 Unit of K and n units of L) within the frame of the production process, no price system is necessary for the allocation; etc.)
Likewise, he thinks the labor supply curve slopes upward for low incomes and downward for high incomes. This thereby justifies lower taxes on low incomes and higher taxes on high incomes, all in the name of "efficiency."

His political views are stupid as well. If you've ever read some comments in "Libération", you won't believe that something that stupid can be written. Friedman was a fascist, Sarkozy is a gaullo-bushist who is a totalitarian and authoritarian (guess he wanted to find a nicer description for an unreflected fascist reproach), Ireland are robbers because their tax level is not as high as that of the rest of Europe, etc.

This guy is a highly skilled econometrician, but he doesn't know sh* about economics. Basic laws (I'm not even sure if he believes in economic laws; Jacques Généreux who is professor of econommics at Sciences Po in Paris doesn't believe in economic laws !) human action, market processes, etc. are ignored. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, one of the wannabe-candidates of the socialist party for presidential election, is professor of economics at Sciences Po as well. France is the only country where professors of economics are more leftist than the population.

The department of economics in France are pretty mediocre; Paris Dauphine being one of the best which is pretty sad. And the "Grandes écoles" (sciences po is part of it) who are the better counterparts of French universities educate and form "policy makers and economic advisors" but not economists.

thomas piketty is not an econometrician and btw he has a vita that would
get him tenure in any top 5 econ department in the US

You all mention many things that need to be addressed to improve the world of education. I will comment only on one or two here that seem to me particularly relevant.

1) quality of professors: big thing. I have attended five US universities and five European universities, so I think I am in a good position to judge. What I have observed is that an incompetent professor in the US can go a long way before he/she is terminated. It seems that the higher the prestige of the PhD granting institution, the more a professor can fail to perform before it will catch up with him/her. As a recruiter once told me "an ivy league degree goes a long way". yeah. US universities are also in general very little concerned about ethics, despite the big cry for harrassment protection and equal opportunity. At the end of the day, a professor recruits and keeps those students he personally likes. Period. Seen it more than once.
I never encountered any of these highly questionable practices in Europe. I deem the French to be more guided by ethics than any American educational institution.
I can provide a list of American professors who repeatedly married their own graduate students (3-6 divorces over the career span), and those who were terminated at private universities and then dumped into the state system. The US is very much a caste system of education.

2) Education is all about money. As long as funding is distributed so unequally, students from Europe will go to the US. Students at LSE have been advised in the past to move on to the US because of the better opportunities within the system. It is a reality and has got nothing to do with quality of research. Additionally, european universities are much too encrusted. Professors remain semi-gods, albeit more benign ones than their american counterparts. In Europe this leads to inflexible research in much the same way that this type of inflexibility can be observed at US state universities (where professors also never have to fear being terminated).

3)Finally, there are those of us who are constraint by economic factors in their choices. Had EEP existed when I had to choose my field of studies - at that time I never even would have considered studying in the US, having spent time on an exchange programme in secondary edu - it would have made a big difference in my life.
I ended up at a state school for my PhD because I could financially not afford to wait a year to gain admisssion to a private university. When I was accepted at Cambridge University in the UK, I was not able to accept the offer because it came one year before the new fellowship programme of the Higher Council was introduced. So for nothing but economic reasons I currently get myself exploited and undertrained at a state school that is conspicuously avoided by American students. And all of my collegues are foreigners like myself in the very same financial situation. What is equal access here, in the middle of the "Land of opportunity"?! I highly welcome ANY initiative that will provide European students with the same access opportunities as American students. MONEY AND ALTERNATIVE WAYS OF FINANCING, that is.


The provincialism of the postings here (save for that of aurora) is extraordinary.
The neoclassical paradigm is 100% crap. Its primary success has been in obfuscation, coupled with a gigantic makework program of technically competent but functional illiterates.
The notion that 'the quality of American higher education drives superior American economic performance' has anything to do with ANglo-American economics education is too ludicrous for words.

thank you very much for this article

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