building blocks Myxi/Flickr

Remettre les modèles économiques à leur place

BERKELEY – Lorsque les décideurs publics cherchent conseil auprès des économistes, ils s’attendent à ce que les recommandations soient fondées sur des données scientifiques et non sur les postulats de factions économiques ou politiques. Après tout, les politiques qu’ils mettent en place auront des conséquences bien réelles pour des personnes en chair et en os. Malheureusement, la rigueur scientifique n’est pas forcément ce qui motive les analyses économiques et les recommandations de politiques.

Dans une critique récente de ce qu’il nomme la « mathématisation » de la théorie économique contemporaine, Paul M. Romer de l’Université de New York avance que les économistes doivent prendre des mesures pour exclure les éléments doctrinaires et politiques d’une science « désolante » qui repose déjà sur des assises bien fragiles. Romer fonde son argument sur un débat encore chaud dans le domaine du rôle que les idées jouent dans la promotion de la croissance économique.

Romer semble s’inquiéter principalement de la propension que certains économistes ont de prétendre que ce qui est vrai pour certains types de théories est vrai de toutes les théories et donc applicable au monde réel. À titre d’exemple de cette tendance, Romer cite les travaux de l’économiste de l’Université de Chicago Robert Lucas, qui, dans son article de 2009 « Ideas and Growth » (L’influence des idées sur la croissance) juge négligeable le rôle que les livres ou des plans détaillés peuvent jouer dans la génération de croissance. Selon Lucas, « Certaines connaissances “matérialisées” sont transmissibles par le truchement de livres, de plans détaillés, du matériel de fabrication et d’autres formes de capital physique et nous savons comment intégrer le capital dans un modèle théorique de croissance, mais nous savons également que ce paramètre ne peut à lui seul être l’élément moteur principal d’une croissance durable ».

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