- Humans of Economics -
I love my students. I enjoy being around my students. There are not many students in statistics who actually want to be there. But I like to try to persuade them it's important.
And I think sometimes - the parents are going to kill me for this - I think sometimes students try very hard to be the people their parents want them to be rather than following their own dreams, their own passions... and I’m at the other end of this life. You’re going to live a long while and I think it’s important to live your lives in a satisfying way and to pursue work that is for you enjoyable. I think doing something you care about, something you have a passion for, something you’re interested in is worth sacrificing quite a bit of money for. When you live a long life, you need to enjoy it, and to work very very hard with lots of money as a consequence is not very clever if you’re not very happy doing it. So know yourself, be yourself. Know what it is you really want out of life. What you really care about, and pursue that. Don’t be the accountant that your mother and father wanted you to be or the lawyer that your mother and father wanted you to be. If being an accountant or being a lawyer is really not for you.
I was really fortunate; I lucked into finding something I really enjoyed and really cared about... I didn’t get a lot of guidance for that but I got lucky... really lucky. And I think it’s important for students to really know themselves and know what it is they really want out of life rather than be told by somebody that that’s what they want to be or do. A lot of students are not terribly honest with themselves. Be honest with yourself."
"A couple years back, I had to do a profile about myself for a brochure and write some things. But I hadn't written enough about myself so they asked me if I could expand a little more and edit it and send it back to them. They asked me to then tell Siri about the changes I had made.
So you can probably guess what happened next.
I started to talk to Siri on my phone telling her the changes to make to my profile in the brochure. I thought maybe somehow, with the advancement of technology, they had connected to Siri and this is how it would work.
What I didn’t know was that Siri was the name of the secretary downtown who was handling these profiles and I had to talk to her.
So you can see that for older people it’s a real challenge.
I started being interested in economics in 1968. It’s a long story. I wasn't a good student in high school. I left school when I was 15 years old. Then I married my first wife when i was 19. I was encouraged by her to go back to university. So I went to community college. I ended up doing an economics course.... we had an Indian economics lecturer, and he was a little bit of a lunatic. He was so passionate about economics. He loved the subject, and he got me interested in it. So because of that, I decided to go back to university when I was 24 and studied economics. I was working as a purchasing officer at the time, and when I left for school , they said I could go back to work when I got my degree. But I enjoyed being an economics student so much that I decided to become an academic and didn’t go back to my old job"
"....I started doing serious research in 1975 when I was in Southampton University. At the time, there was one computer in the university, and it was on the math floor. It was the size of about 8 of these office rooms, and had a memory of 52 K. I had to submit my research on punch cards. At the end of the day I’d go to the office, and the computer couldn’t manage all of the jobs.
So it used to take me maybe 3 or 4 days to run 1 computer job. Even then, sometimes it wouldn’t work.
It’s incredible how things have changed in my academic life time. What I can do in about 3 nanoseconds on my computer now, it used to take 3 days to do the same thing on the computer of those times."
Photo by Caelan Ho