What are economists today taught in university

Coming up with a list of influential economists from the past is easy enough. John Locke, Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, and Alfred Marshall readily spring to mind. Coming up with a list of influential economists of recent memory is also easy enough: John Maynard Keynes, Joseph Schumpeter, Friedrich von Hayek, Paul Samuelson, and Milton Friedman spring readily to mind. But coming up with the twenty most influential living economists poses more of a challenge.

Unlike in the past, economists now wield considerable political power. Is their influence to be measured in political terms, as in how widely their ideas are implemented in public policy and law? Is their influence to measured in originality of ideas and profundity of analysis? Is their influence to be measured in the degree to which they’ve transformed the discipline? As these questions suggest, no single measure of influence applies across the board. With these questions in the background, SuperScholar offers this list of its twenty most influential living economists.

Kenneth Arrow

Kenneth Arrow (b. 1921) is the preeminent living mathematical economist, bringing high-powered mathematics to bear on long-standing economic questions, especially in connection to general equilibrium.

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Gary Becker

Gary Becker (b. 1930) merged sociology and economics, showing how sociological factors influence economic behavior, while also laying particular stress on human capital.

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Barbara Bergmann

Barbara Bergmann (b. 1927) laid the foundations for much of contemporary feminist economics, especially regarding discrimination in the workplace.

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Hernando de Soto

Hernando de Soto (b. 1941) has underscored the need for legal infrastructure, especially in protecting property, as the key to economic growth in developing countries.

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Ernst Fehr

Ernst Fehr (b. 1951) has done fundamental work on human cooperation, especially in the area of altruistic punishment (punishment that offers no seeming economic incentive to the punisher and yet helps mould cooperation of the larger group).

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Francis Fukuyama

Francis Fukuyama (b. 1952) is a political economist who tracks how economic, technological, and social forces facilitate as well as undercut liberal democracy.

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Alan Greenspan

Alan Greenspan (b. 1926) instituted monetary policies during his nineteen years as head of the Federal Reserve that played a significant role in the economic crisis of 2008 and following.

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Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman (b. 1934) applied experimental psychology to economics to show how psychological factors can radically undermine classical conceptions of human economic agents as rational utility maximizers.

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Lawrence Robert Klein

Lawrence Robert Klein (b. 1920), one of the 20th century’s key econometricians, was the first to make significant use of computer modeling in economic forecasting.

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Arthur Laffer

Arthur Laffer (b. 1940), one of the chief architects of Ronald Reagan’s economic policies, is best known for the “Laffer Curve,” which purports to demonstrate that decreasing tax rates may increase tax revenues.

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Robert Lucas Jr.

Robert Lucas Jr. (b. 1937) is best known for his work on the microeconomic basis for macroeconomics and on how rational expectations affect, and may mislead, economic agents.

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Elinor Ostrom

Elinor Ostrom (b. 1933) has focused on the means of ensuring the continued use of common pool resources with an eye on preventing ecosystem collapse, a major concern in these times of ever increasing population.

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Christopher Antoniou Pissarides

Christopher Antoniou Pissarides (b. 1948) is best known for his work on the relation between the labor market and the wider economy, focusing especially on the role of search frictions (obstacles to finding trading partners).

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Jeffrey Sachs

Jeffrey Sachs (b. 1954) has played a key role in helping developing and command economies (notably in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union) in transitioning to a free-market system.

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Amartya Sen

Amartya Sen (b. 1933), called the “Mother Teresa of Economics,” has humanized the once dismal science, focusing on practical economic ways of redressing poverty and thereby alleviating human suffering.

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William Forsyth Sharpe

William Forsyth Sharpe (b. 1934) is a towering figure in financial economics whose work on capital asset pricing, and especially on the valuation of derivatives, has been seminal.

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Mark Skousen

Mark Skousen (b. 1947) promotes libertarian economics to a wide audience through his academic career, writings, newsletter, and annual FreedomFest.

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Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930) is an academic economist and social critic whose popular and scholarly writings are widely read, arguing for free markets and economic growth.

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Joseph Stiglitz

Joseph Stiglitz (b. 1943) has made fundamental contributions to the study of globalization, wage efficiency, and information asymmetry.

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Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicholas Taleb (b. 1960) works in mathematical finance, where he introduced the concept of “black swan events” (rare events that can’t be fit within a known reference class of possibilities) to understand the current economic crisis.

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