Post-autistic economics

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The post-autistic economics movement (French: autisme-économie)[1] or movement of students for the reform of economics teaching (French: mouvement des étudiants pour une réforme de l'enseignement de l'économie)[2] is a political movement which criticises neoclassical economics and advocates for pluralism in economics. The movement gained attention after an open letter signed by almost 1,000 economics students at French universities and Grandes Écoles was published in Le Monde in 2000.[3]


The French term autisme has an older meaning and signifies "abnormal subjectivity, acceptance of fantasy rather than reality." However, post-autistic economists also "assert that neoclassical economics has the characteristics of an autistic child."[4]

The pejorative reference to the neurodevelopmental disorder autism is considered offensive by some economists.[5] Greg Mankiw said that "use of the term indicates a lack of empathy and understanding for those who live with actual, severe autism."[6]

Before autism became widely understood in its modern medical sense, the word autistic was used in Austrian economics. Ludwig von Mises defined autistic exchange as "action ... performed by an individual without any reference to cooperation with other individuals."[7]


The French minister of education appointed a panel headed by Jean-Paul Fitoussi to inquire into economics teaching.[8] In 2000, the panel called for limited reform.[9]

Articles associated with the movement were published in the Post-Autistic Economics Newsletter from September 2000. This electronic newsletter became the post-autistic economics review and, since 2008, has existed as the peer-reviewed journal real-world economics review.[10]

Several responses to the French students' open letter were also published in Le Monde. A counter-petition signed by 15 French economists was published in October 2000.[11] Robert Solow adhered to the "main thesis" of the French students' petition, but criticised the "opaque and almost incomprehensible" debate that followed among academics.[12] Olivier Blanchard also published a response defending mainstream economics.[10] Other notable economists, such as Steve Keen and James K. Galbraith, wrote elsewhere in support of the French students.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Badiou, Alain (15 July 2009). "The post-autistic movement". Adbusters. 
  2. ^ "Le site du mouvement des étudiants pour une réforme de l'enseignement de l'économie" [The site of the movement of students for the reform of economics teaching] (in French). Retrieved 31 December 2016. 
  3. ^ "Lettre ouverte des étudiants en économie" [Open letter from students in economics]. Le Monde (in French). 17 June 2000. Retrieved 31 December 2016 – via 
  4. ^ Alcorn, Stanley; Solarz, Ben (1 July 2006). "The Autistic Economist". post-autistic economics review (38). 2. Retrieved 31 December 2016. 
  5. ^ Kay, Neil (7 September 2008). "The Importance of Words" (Letter). Letter to the editors of the post-autistic economics review. 
  6. ^ Mankiw, Greg (3 December 2007). "Autism and Economics". Retrieved 31 December 2016. 
  7. ^ von Mises, Ludwig (1949). "Autistic Exchange and Interpersonal Exchange". Human Action. Retrieved 31 December 2016 – via Liberty Fund. 
  8. ^ Monaghan, Peter (24 January 2003). "Taking on rational man: dissident economists fight for a niche in the discipline". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 31 December 2016 – via Iowa State University. 
  9. ^ Raveaud, Gilles (2000). "The Fitoussi Report" – via 
  10. ^ a b Edward, Fullbrook. "The post-autistic economics movement: a brief history" (PDF). Journal of Australian Political Economy (50): 14–23. Retrieved 31 December 2016 – via Altruists International. 
  11. ^ "Contre-appel pour préserver la scientificité de l'économie" [Counter-appeal to preserve the scientificity of economics]. Le Monde (in French). 31 October 2000. Retrieved 31 December 2016 – via 
  12. ^ Solow, Robert (3 January 2001). "L'économie entre empirisme et mathématisation" [Economics between empiricism and mathematization]. Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 31 December 2016 – via 
  13. ^ Galbraith, James K. (January 2001). "A contribution on the state of economics in France and the world". In Fullbrook, Edward. The crisis in economics: the post-autistic economics movement: the first 600 days. p. 47. ISBN 0415308976. Retrieved 31 December 2016 – via Post-Autistic Economics Network. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Fullbrook, Edward, ed. (2007). Real world economics: a post-autistic economics reader. Anthem Press. ISBN 1843312360. 
  • Fullbrook, Edward, ed. (2003). The crisis in economics: the post-autistic economics movement: the first 600 days. Psychology Press. ISBN 0415308976. 

External links[edit]