Saturday, February 12, 2011

Celebrity Economists?

When I look at many economists who have won the "Nobel" prize, I often wonder, where is the empirical evidence for their theories? Are they making empirical claims that have passed potentially falsifying tests? It seems to me that both Solow and Lucas, for example, won prizes more on the basis that their work is frequently cited than for expanding our understanding of actually existing economies. Perhaps some, such as Leontief or Stone, won for work providing an accounting framework that is useful in organizing empirical data.

Hence, my title: a celebrity has been defined as somebody who is famous for being famous.

This is a topical post.I was inspired by this list of "top twenty" articles in the American Economic Review, selected by six senior economists.

(While I was writing this post, Merijn Knibbe posted similar thoughts.)

I append the article list for reference:
  • Alchian and Demsetz (1972). "Production, Information Costs and Economic Organization".
  • Arrow (1963). "Uncertainty and the Welfare Economics of Medical Care".
  • Cobb and Douglas (1928). "A Theory of Production".
  • Deaton and Muellbauer (1980). "An Almost Ideal Demand System".
  • Diamond (1965). "National Debt in a Neoclassical Growth Model.
  • Diamond and Mirrlees (1971). "Optimal Taxation and Public Production" (two parts).
  • Dixit and Stiglitz (1977). "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity".
  • Friedman (1968). "The Role of Monetary Policy".
  • Grossman and Stiglitz (1980). "On the Impossibility of Informationally Efficient Markets".
  • Harris and Todaro (1970). "Migration, Unemployment and Development: A Two-Sector Analysis.
  • Hayek (1945). "The Use of Knowledge in Society".
  • Jorgenson (1963). "Capital Theory and Investment Behaviour".
  • Krueger (1974). "The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society"
  • Krugman (1980). "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade.
  • Kuznets (1955). "Economic Growth and Income Inequality".
  • Lucas (1973). "Some International Evidence on Output-Inflation Tradeoffs".
  • Modigliani and Miller (1958). "The Cost of Capital, Corporation Finance and the Theory of Investment".
  • Mundell (1961). "A Theory of Optimum Currency Areas".
  • Ross (1973). "The Economic Theory of Agency: The Principal's Problem".
  • Shiller (1981). "Do Stock Prices Move Too Much to Be Justified by Subsequent Changes in Dividends?"

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