Friday, September 02, 2011

US Professors Polled on Favourite Economists

Gary Price and Shirl Kennedy HERE: taken from EconJournal Watch HERE: by William L. Davis, Bob Figgins, David Hedengren, Daniel B. Klein, who surveyed 299 US professors of economics

“Economics Professors’ Favorite Economic Thinkers, Journals, and Blogs (along with Party and Policy Views) (PDF)
We sent a survey to economics professors through out the United States, and 299 returned a completed survey. The survey asked about favorites in the following
economic thinkers
who wrote prior to the twentieth century
of the twentieth century, now deceased
alive today
age 60 or over
under the age of 60
economics journals
economics blogs
Other questions, as well, were asked, but it is those about favorites that make the focus of the present paper. We relate those responses to party-voting and a score on a policy index based on 17 policy questions.
First-place positions as favorite economist in their respective categories are Adam Smith (by far), John Maynard Keynes followed closely by Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, and Paul Krugman. For journals, the leaders are American Economic Review and Journal of Economic Perspectives. For blogs, the leaders are Greg Mankiw followed closely by Marginal Revolution (Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok).

Full account of the data is in the original article (EconJournalWatch) (follow the link).

If only it was obvious that the popularity of Adam Smith was based on a close familiarity with his works and their ideas. However, sorry to say, knowledge of his Wealth Of Nations is somewhat less than thorough – even depressingly below examinable undergraduate standards – and of his Moral Sentiments (which is crucial to understanding WN and the source of the errors associating Smith to the modern myths of Homo economicus and mathematical modeling of supposed maximising marginal utilities).

As for the widespread belief in an actual invisible-hand (see my debates with Daniel Klein in Econjournalwatch last year), this enthusiastically drives US economic professors to put Smith on top of any list – the IH metaphor is misuse by modern invention by the professors from Econ 101 to graduate courses and conversations with politicians and the media.

It was noted by me that David Ricardo did not appear in the lists at all, which is at least a consolation prize for the otherwise depressing realisation that Smith is prized by top US economists largely for the wrong reasons.


Blogger Troff said...

Actually Ricardo is number 2 in "favorite pre-twentieth century economists" (fig 1)

4:14 p.m.  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...


oh, dear. I stand corrected, and apologise for my carelessness

I should know that the strong pro- 'Ricardian' strain among economists could not entirely vanish! Many admire Ricardo for his sometimes impenetrable rigour which lurched, in my view, political economy towards logic rather than what is, which in turn led to the mathematical world rather than the real world.

Thanks for putting me right.

6:34 a.m.  

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