Is Economics a Science? Well, Not Yet.

22 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2017 Last revised: 12 Feb 2018

Date Written: February 10, 2018


Is economics a science? Answering this question is not only necessary for philosophical clarity, but also crucial for knowing how seriously to take economists’ claims and advice about public policy. Nevertheless, even among practitioners and academics, consensus is nonexistent. This paper resolves the conundrum in two steps. First I discuss some epistemology of science, defining clearly various concepts necessary to the debate. Several fallacies are clarified, such as "a theory may never be proved true, but only not falsified", "a model is useful because it simplifies reality" or "data mining is bad". In light of solid philosophical ground, I then discuss the practice and methodology of modern economics. The answer to the title question is a perhaps disappointing, but realistic, not yet. I conclude with prescriptions for a path towards a more scientific discipline.

Keywords: economics, science, theory

JEL Classification: A10, B2, B40

Suggested Citation

Dahis, Ricardo, Is Economics a Science? Well, Not Yet. (February 10, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

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