Post-autistic economics

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The movement for Post-Autistic Economics (PAE) was born through the work of University of Paris 1 economist Bernard Guerrien. The movement is best seen as a forum of different groups critical of the current mainstream: behavioral economics, heterodox economics, feminist economics, green economics, and econo-physics. Started in 2000 by a group of disaffected French economics students, Post-Autistic Economics first reached a wider audience in June 2000 after an interview in Le Monde.[1]

The term autistic is used in an informal way, signifying "abnormal subjectivity, acceptance of fantasy rather than reality".[2] It has been criticized for using the medical diagnosis, autism, as a derogatory expression.[3]


PAE has challenged standard neoclassical assumptions and incorporated ideas from sociology and psychology into economic analysis[citation needed]. Specifically, the notions of utility theory, rational choice, production and efficiency theory (Pareto optimality), and game theory have been criticised.[4]

Other topics include "Gross National Happiness", realism vs. mathematical consistency, "Thermodynamics and Economics", or "Irrelevance and Ideology". Contributors include Bruce Caldwell, James K. Galbraith, Robert L. Heilbroner, Bernard Guerrien, Emmanuelle Benicourt, Ha-Joon Chang, Herman Daly and Richard D. Wolff.

Criticism of the term[edit]

Although it is no longer used this way in common vernacular the term "autistic economy" is a technical term rooted in economic history which refers collectively to either a socialist or fascist economy.[5] These two types of economies are lumped together because they are both command economies. The use of the term "autistic" in PAE makes reference to this little known use of the word autistic in economics, which pre-dates the discovery of the medical condition autism in 1943.

Some mainstream economists - such as Robert Solow, in a long article[6] in Le Monde,[7] followed by another by Olivier Blanchard, the chair at MIT, as well as the publication of a counter-petition to the French students’ petition, a plea for the status quo - argue that a characterization of academic economics taught in today's colleges as autistic in the sense of closed-minded is unfair, since many branches of post-modern economics reject classical economic world-views and heavy reliance on mathematics.

In addition, the term "autistic" is a medical description of a developmental condition, and thus its use to characterize mainstream economics is considered by many to be highly insensitive and indicative of a lack of empathy and understanding on the part of self-described post-autistic economists for actual autistics.[8]

In March, 2008, the post-autistic economics review changed its name to the real-world economics review.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Cambridge 27 (July 2001). "Opening Up Economics". post-autistic economics newsletter (7, article 1). Archived from the original on 2012-06-30. [dead link]
  2. ^[dead link] ALCORN, Stanley and SOLARZ, Ben. The Autistic Economist, Yale Economic Review]
  3. ^ Kay, Neil (7 September 2008), The Importance of Words 
  4. ^ Is There Anything Worth Keeping in Standard Microeconomics?
  5. ^ von Mises, Ludwig. "Human Action, Part 4, Chapter 14". Retrieved 1949. 
  6. ^ "Robert Solow (2001) L´économie entre empirisme et mathématisation. Le Monde, 3 January 2001, in post-autistic economics media archives". Archived from the original on 2012-11-30. [dead link]
  7. ^ Galbraith, James K. (January 2001). "A contribution on the state of economics in France and the world". post-autistic economics newsletter (4, article 1). Archived from the original on 2012-11-30. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Autism and Economics". 3 December 2007. 


External links[edit]