Ignorance is Bliss: Why should we study Leontief?

What is at stake?

Let’s start with a story. A friend asked me what my favourite genre of fiction is. I replied: microeconomics. If you get the joke, you would be laughing. Otherwise, you would be wondering why I said that. Well, that’s the truth. Take any standard economics textbook, we find ourselves in the fictional worlds of ‘let’s assume there are two goods’ and ‘if we move from point A to B’. It is true and well understood that these assumptions and imaginations are meant to break down complex phenomena. However, this entry point of supply and demand curves with the endless possibilities of hypothetical scenarios is not the only way to study/introduce economics. In this regard, I put forth the relevance of studying Wassily Leontief’s work and argue that it adds pluralism to economics education at least in three aspects: 1) methodology (philosophical and mathematical approach), 2) the unit of analysis (micro to macro and in between), and 3) ideas at the margins (reading thinkers like Piero Sraffa and other classical political economists). Now we shall deal with these three themes individually.

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