In this paper we offer an appraisal of the economics of education research area, charting its history as a field and discussing the ways in which economists have contributed both to education research and to education policy-making. In particular, we highlight the theoretical and methodological contributions that economists have made to the field of education during the last 50 years. Despite the success of the economics of education as a field of inquiry, we argue that some of the contributions made by economists could be limited if the economics of education is seen as quite distinct from the other disciplines working in the field of education. In these areas of common interest, economists need to work side by side with the other major disciplines in the field of education if their contribution to the field is to be maximised, particularly in terms of applying improved methodology. We conclude that the study of education acquisition and its economic and social impact in the economics of education research area is very likely to remain a fertile research ground.