the Resource section, we have included several interviews with hopes that
these dialogues can bring you closer to "what
economists do." As we mentioned earlier in the "What
is Economics?" section, economics is a broad range of fields, and
many people do it for a living! The interviews are with teaching fellows
and economists who teach economics on the college level.
like to thank everyone we interviewed for setting aside time in their busy
schedules to do these interviews with us. Without you, this part of this
would not have been possible. It was truly and enlightening experience to
speak with each of you!
Gary Chamberlain is the Louis Berkman Professor
of Economics at Harvard University. His particular field is econometrics,
which is the application of mathematical and statistical techniques to
economics in the study of problems, the analysis of data, and the
development and testing of theories and models.
interview was done by YiDing in February, 2004.
Could you briefly describe the
material of your field?
teach econometrics which focuses on statisical methods using data.
There's a very broad range of data that we use. Recently, I have
become involved in environmental economics. The government has
detailed regulations on pollution production based on various
kinds of data, and it has monitoring sites that measure how much
pollution is producted. This blends in with political policy, and
public health, and issues about whether some pollutants have
health consequences, etc."
did you become interested in what you do today?
attended Harvard College, and some teachers, Martin Feldstein, for
example, started my interest. There were also some statistic
classes I really liked. The two fell together. I was also a
Research Assistant to some of these professors, and I would work
with data sets. Eventually, I would play more of a role in the
research, and all of this was what got me started."
concept of "economy" is often hard to grasp. In simple
terms, what is the economy to you?
basically about trade and the gains from trade: instituations that
facilitate that, the price system. For example, auctions is a
really hot field today."
you think studying economics is important? Who should, and why?
of it are satisfying as they have some explanatory power.
Economics plays a role in decisions as in the example earlier
about government regulations. But mostly, economics should be
studied because it is satisfying to pursue the area at the basic
you give a recent example of how economics has affected the world
events in the former Soviet Union, such as the changes towards a
market economy is a result of economic advising. It's an example
of policy changes because of economics."
you think globalization is a good thing? Why, or why not?
trade is basically good. In considering the gains and losses of
trade, in aggregate, the gains win. Of course, we have to deal
with the allocation of resources, the distribution of income, and
inequalities, but the total is increased with trade."
you could give today's youth one piece of advice, what would it
something you really want to do, and find a way to do it."