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A Note to Students: What Economics Literature Is Considered Obsolete

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A Note to Students: What Economics Literature Is Considered Obsolete

With the world growing more rapidly interconnected with every passing day, the market landscape of economy and business is also undergoing seismic shifts. The pace of market development is so rapid that many students of economics or business may find themselves questioning the relevance of the literature they encounter throughout their education. Many are left wondering to what extent the canon of historical literature is even applicable to current day market practices.

This level of skepticism is healthy for any student, and the question is well worth delving into. After all, students are supposed to be innovators, and questioning old dogma is central to creating intellectual and academic progress. The evolution of economic literature can be looked at as mirroring the development of different market structures, yet which of the classic books can we now consider to be growing obsolete?

This question has become the central focus of many economics courses in universities. Students of economics may often find themselves tasked with an essay to review the literature of past generations. Such a task may seem daunting at first, but it’s easier to access a list of literature essays for all kinds of useful examples. These examples shine a light on the different approaches that students can take towards assessing the relevance of old literature.

Some students choose to examine the principles upon which classic economics books are based on and make a case for obsolescence based on the fact that those principles are no longer true of our current economy. Other students opt instead to research emerging trends and attempt to write a paper that reworks or updates the work of classic writers in order to better fit the contemporary market. Whatever your preferred approach to essay writing, there’s plenty of work to be reviewed.

It’s worth reviewing even some of the most basic concepts within traditional economic theory in order to assess their relevance and reflect on the future of both popular economics and the subject as it is taught in universities. Here we’re going to review the basic ways in which the global market has changed in modern times, and how these shifts impact the approaches of classic economics.

Changing Markets

The global economic market is an incredibly complex system, with many factors determining its exact nature. When reviewing classic economics literature, it’s worth considering which of these factors have changed, and in what way. The breakdown of labour within the economy, compared to even just a few decades ago, has drastically shifted.

By the mid 19th century, when a lot of the seminal works of economic theory were penned, only between 10 and 20% of the US population lived in urban centres. By 1990, over 75% of Americans lived in cities. This means that a lot of the theories produced at this time were written about a society in which the vast majority of people were rural labourers. Quite quickly it becomes clear how unscrupulously applying such approaches to vastly different economies leaves quite a large margin for error.

Many other factors, such as shifts in population demographics, migration, and transnational trade account for similar shifts in the relationship between economic literature, and the practice it refers to.

The Classics

So, which of the classic economic theorists are we to cast aside? The standard economics course will continue to teach giants of classic economics such as the work of Marx and Engels, as a matter of historical importance more than anything else. But the work of even more contemporary economists has begun to develop a heavy cloud of skepticism surrounding it.

While incredibly popular during the latter half of the 20th century, the theories of Milton Friedman have come under increasing scrutiny for arguing that the only thing important for a productive economy is to be free and productive. This is credited as having been the cause for many countries to focus blindly on creating “free” markets that ended up giving way to recklessness and instability.

The Future for Economics Students

Whatever literature you choose to reevaluate as part of your economics education, it’s important to remain critical as a student. Questioning the dogma of the past is the most important facet of intellectual progress, and opens the way for the economic theories of the future!



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