Discussion paper

DP11881 The Economist as Plumber

As economists increasingly help governments design new policies and regulations,
they take on an added responsibility to engage with the details of policy making and,
in doing so, to adopt the mindset of a plumber. Plumbers try to predict as well as
possible what may work in the real world, mindful that tinkering and adjusting will
be necessary since our models gives us very little theoretical guidance on what (and
how) details will matter. This essay argues that economists should seriously engage
with plumbing, in the interest of both society and our discipline.


Duflo, E (2017), ‘DP11881 The Economist as Plumber‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 11881. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp11881