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Ten Commandments for Policy Economists

June 19, 2014 09:30 AM

This week, APPAM goes back 33 years to the inaugural issue of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. This article by Christopher K. Leman and Robert H. Nelson examines the use of economics in government as illustrated by the experience of the natural resources agencies and presents ten guiding rules for the practicing policy economist: (1) be economical about the use of economics; (2) discount for political demand; (3) dare to be “quick-and-dirty”; (4) think like a manager; (5) analyze equity as well as efficiency; (6) know your market; (7) pay your organizational dues; (8) profit from action-forcing events; (9) do not oversell economic analysis; and (10) learn policy economics by doing it.

From the article's introduction:

"In the last two decades, economists have proliferated and economic analysis has burgeoned in American government. The important change has been the rise of the policy economist who has things to say not just about traditional 'economists' questions,' but about policy and management in general. To a greater degree than before, policy economists get involved directly in formulating agency options and making recommendations to agency heads. Yet although the number of economists has increased markedlly, their influence has not always expanded in equal measure. In order to be successful in such roles, economists must learn new skills. The ultimate audience for the policy economist are the participants in the policymaking process--most of whome are not economists. Successful policy economists are constantly aware of that overriding fact."

Read the full article on Wiley Online [PDF]

 

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