Advice for Young Economists

Oxonian and blogger David Adesnik reveals his recent whereabouts:

I’ve mentioned in passing that I’ve been travelling abroad for the past few months. Well, that was a euphemism. I was in Iraq, working as an analyst for the Coalition’s counter-IED task force. [Via Instapundit.]

Good on you, David. David’s post crystallized a response I had in mind for a recent post at Marginal Revolution:

A loyal MR reader asks:

I am now beginning the process of choosing classes for next year. I thought your advice might again be useful. I am in the unusual position of finding nearly all fields potentially interesting.

If you are a young economist, anthropologist, or political scientist, my advice to you is: come to Iraq. If you want to see the interplay between economic growth and governance, the competition of state and non-state structures, practical challenges in aid and development assistance, microeconomics with weak contract enforcement and rule of law – this is the place. I guarantee you will get ideas and material for a dozen smashing papers.

It might be hard to find a slot if you don’t already have background in the Middle East, but there is always work for smart, creative, pragmatic people. There are many private sector and non-profit organizations here. Here is one place to start.

Aside from personal and professional benefits, in Iraq you will get the satisfaction of helping people who are sacrificing everything to overcome enormous difficulties.

UPDATE 6/2/08: Marginal Revolution has another relevant post with advice for an aspiring development economist, visiting a developing country. As to the question of street food, I eat the street food here, and have no problems.

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