What’s missing is the sort of method that would permit economists to test the possibility with which Iain Cockburn, of Boston University, only half in jest, closed the NBER meeting last week: that superior American productivity of recent years owes to the vast numbers of MBAs and lawyers churned out annually by the nation’s professional schools.
The conventional wisdom, of course, is that the US trains far too few scientists and engineers. But you could take the view, said Cockburn, that having a lot of very talented people thinking about the issues in a serious and systematic way was a key to superior performance. It just wouldn’t be easy to find a persuasive way to test the proposition.
I'm planning on getting my MBA, so my antennae are sensitive to MBAs being mentioned. From David Warsh's online weekly Economic Principals. He's the guy who wrote my favorite book of the last few years, Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations.