This post is joint with André Moreira, an economist at the Bank of England
Three years ago one of us got into a discussion with Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong about how dominant, or otherwise, the New Keynesian model of business cycles was in academia. That post contained a footnote with an idea: why don’t we look at what the top schools actually teach their post graduates, to see if there are a large proportion of students who are not being taught any Keynesian economics. We came together with the idea of doing just that.
We initially thought that we could do this by ‘simply’ contacting the academics teaching core macro courses and asking them for their syllabus. You can probably guess the problem we encountered, although thanks to those who did respond. So instead we decided to survey recent students. That worked much better, with one exception we note below. (The results are written up in more detail as a short paper – see the top of the main list from this link).
We decided to ask a simple question: “Approximately what percentage of the core Macro sequence that you received covered models involving price and/or wage rigidities (including New Keynesian models)? Please round your answer to the nearest 5% mark.” We sent this question to graduate students at the top 15 schools during 2014/15 . Here are the results
Table 2: Survey results
The one school missing is Chicago. Contact information for these graduates is not publicly available, and we were told by both the course administrator and the academic in charge of the course that they have a policy of not divulging the email addresses of postgraduates, even after we made it clear what we wanted them for. We also received no information from our earlier requests for a syllabus.
Of course no simple question like this is perfect: at NYU, for example, the first year teaching focuses on methods, and Keynesian analysis is covered in a later (but optional) course. We found no major discontinuities according to the year students entered the programme (a few variations are noted in the paper), and the information matched the syllabus information from those who had been good enough to respond to our first survey. We sent the results to course teachers a few months ago for any comments or corrections.
The main message we draw from these results is that, in at least the top schools, there is no major divide between a group that teaches Keynesian economics and those that do not. There is a large amount of variation among schools, but there is little evidence of the marked bifurcation among top universities that some discussions of a saltwater/freshwater divide might suggest. We suspect opinions will differ on whether the variation we still found is natural in a discipline like economics or is an indication that something is wrong.
We would be interested in any thoughts about whether it would be worth taking this analysis further in any way.
 Top 15 according to the IDEAS ranking of economic institutions as of September 2013.