オーストラリア準備銀行のJacqui Dwyer情報局長が、こちらの団体向けの講演で、同国の長期に亘る好景気がもたらした思わぬ副作用について話している(H/T Mostly Economics)。

Economics has become less prominent. In the 1980s and early 1990s, economics was the subject of national debate. There was the lived experience of recession and big economic events like the floating of the dollar and the deregulation of labour and financial markets. So prevalent was the discussion of economics that former Prime Minister Paul Keating once said ‘I guarantee if you walk into any pet shop in Australia, the resident galah will be talking about microeconomic policy’. With Australia having experienced over a quarter of a century of continuous economic expansion, there is now a less involving – and less mature – national conversation about economics.
A relatively benign economic environment appears to have reduced the curiosity of students in seeking to learn about economics. However, the single largest factor weighing on the study of economics appears to have been the emergence of business studies as a subject choice in schools, and the growing dominance of business schools at universities.
When compared with rival subjects, economics has an image problem. Too few students understand what economics is and how it is relevant to them. Consequently, in a cluttered curriculum – at both high school and university – they are less likely to choose it. And if economics is no longer a core subject in many courses, the incentives to choose it fall further.
A key consideration in making a subject choice is its employability, especially given the effort and expense involved in investing in education. Many students – and importantly their parents – consider economics to be less employable than business-oriented subjects. They value subjects and degrees with a clear pathway to a specific occupation (e.g. by studying accounting you can become an accountant). However, the data tell us that graduate starting salaries are higher for economic students than students who take business-oriented subjects and that full-time employment rates are broadly similar. In fact, the sorts of skills acquired in the study of economics – such as analytical and problem solving skills – are likely to be highly valued as the nature of work changes (as explained by the Bank’s Head of Economic Analysis, Alex Heath, in her speech on Skills for the Modern Workforce). It is perhaps because economics graduates are less likely to be employed in their subject field that the misperception about employability arises.
Role models are also important, and the lack of visibility of what an economist does results in a shortage of role models. Furthermore, to the extent that economists are visible, too often they are a homogenous bunch. This can have the effect of discouraging students, particularly females and those from minority backgrounds.