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February 28, 2008



This may end up being never-ending. Now, you have a bunch of cheerleaders at UNCTAD who want to know about that part too!


This is nice to hear. After a MA in international conflict, and 4 years of work on the political side of international development, I started a PhD in economics for many of the same reasons. I couldn't access my econ colleagues work b/c I didnt't have the training needed to read it.

I think that starting out in a different social science and then going into economics because it fascinates you tends to produce unique perspectives that can elude econ-all-all-the-way-through friends. I imagine this is why I appreciate your work on institutions so much -- its written by someone who once thought about instituions, not simply as means to an economic end, but also as organically evolving entities of their own with complex social dynamics and precedents. Maybe turning to economics second will be a new trend. It seemed to have served the discipline well in its earliest years!


I am 20 and facing a similar decision now...I have just finished a B.A. with majors in russian and political science, but I always found myself gravitating towards the economics side of politics for it's explanatory power, like on international relations courses I found IPE more compelling than studying high diplomacy. In my final year I decided to give economics 101 a go and really thrived on it.

Now I want to study economics because (a) It gives me more gratification than political science (b) because with wanting to keep my career options open, graduate economics opens a lot of doors that polisci doesn't while shutting only a few ).

I'll have a lot of catch-up to do mathematically, probably even a second undergraduate degree, but I think I will do it anyway.

What I really agree on is that studying political science was not a waste of three years at all, but has provided me with a sense of scope and complexity of the world that I don't get with economics.


The autobiographical anecdotes are nice and interesting.
And if you think you were confused at the end of your undergrad days you haven't seen the confusion that other people go through. Or think of your varied applications as a portfolio diversification strategy.

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Dear Dani, Thank you very much for giving a personal account of your life. Believe you me it would be beacon for many aspirants and your followers like me. May you live long, sir.

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Please keep on posting personal anecdotes and stories! I love these type of posts!! They are very helpful to undergrads! Thank you!


Is it just me, or does that ... make it sound like there will be another installment? I hope so!


I agree..keep them coming Dani..it is a nice touch..plus..I think we all benefit from reading about your life and how you got where you are..I would be interested in your life and stories during your econ grad school days.

Kerim Can

This is the first time I hear a poli sci undergrad who looks at an econ journal and then decides to take the harder path. Tebrikler!


Dani, thanks... You deserve a great deal of credit for choosing UNCTAD those days (over other international organizations considered more prestigious)and it now explains where you got the passion for trade... Right?


Loved to hear that story. It's kind of refreshing to know that are people are have doubts and follow not-so-straight paths...


I agree with you that the two disciplines (especially political science) have been changing a lot over the years, making it easier for political scientists and economists to communicate (perhaps in a healthy mix of Greek and English) than would have been the case before. Most if not all decent political science programs nowadays train their students in advanced quantitative and formal methods, and increasing numbers of students specialize in political methodology along with a substantive field like comparative or American politics. Also, nowadays it's pretty easy to take courses in other departments (something I, and many people I know, have benefited from a great deal). Even if your "home" base is not the economics department, there is nothing stopping you from taking courses there, and learning the methods you think are most relevant to your work. Were the rules more rigid about this kind of cross-disciplinary training 10-20 years ago, or did most students just not feel the need to venture outside the traditional confines of their respective disciplines?


Dani (27 Feb)
"But why did I end up an economist? That's a story for another time."

Dani (28 Feb)
"Why I became an economist"

Thanks for not making us wait too long!!!

I started out as pol.sci / history major and am now starting my phd in econ. Nice to see someone vindicating my decisions!


I am going the other way around precisely because I want a greater understanding of how we are and why the world works the way it does. Our 2 fields have become too specialised & at times seem mutually exclusive. I'm sick of Economists sniggering at the pol sci's folks & vice-versa. We should all be made to sit together at one big round table, even at the point of a gun...


Oddly enough - I seem to be having similar feelings, only with philosophy PhD programs rather than econ (I was Political Science/Philosophy undergrad, now pursuing an MA in International Development at AU).

Sometimes it seems that there are certain fields in the social sciences/humanities that give a broader range of tools and analytic perspectives than others (Economics, Analytic Philosophy, and History come to mind)

Thanks for the autobiographical post - it helped confirm that some recent decisions are the right ones.


very interesting to hear your personal account.

Am currently interning with UNIDO having studied a economic development MSc. However, the absolute lack of opportunities for someone without a Phd or relevant experience in the development field is so demoralising it has made me (and fellow graduates) think whether our studies has been worthwhile.

I wouldn't be surprised to find myself in banking and finance though that would be the last thing I would want to do.


Dear Dani,

Hi, Dani. I am Veronica. I am a reader of your blog. I got a nice rejection letter from Harvard a few days ago. ^^;; However, I can't give up my dream to be a great economist. Thank you for your story. I believe that there will be several ways to achieve my dream. ^^*

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