Top Influential Economists Today
Economists study every aspect of the behavior of consumer markets, trade, taxation, consumption of goods, and use that knowledge to help inform better policies that impact everything from education to healthcare. This list features profiles of 25 influential economists who have made groundbreaking discoveries and built theoretical frameworks for future economists to follow.
Economics isn’t just the study of money, it is also the study of the forces that move that money. Economists study every aspect of the behavior of consumer markets, trade, taxation, consumption of goods, and use that knowledge to help inform better policies that impact everything from education to healthcare. The study of economics encompasses both the macro, which looks at the big picture (fiscal policy, economic growth, production, and consumption) and the micro, which looks at the numbers from the perspective of households and consumers of goods and services.
The Greek poet, Hesiod (born c. 750 BC), is widely considered to be the first economist. With its origins rooted in ancient Mesopotamia, Persia and Greece, the study of economics has evolved and changed over time. There are many schools of thought within the field of economics, including Marxism, Neoclassical, Chicago, and Keynesian approaches. As a social science, the field integrates research from other fields such as psychology, sociology, geography, history, and much more, to present a clear, well-reasoned economic picture.
This list features profiles of 25 influential economists who have made groundbreaking discoveries and built theoretical frameworks for future economists to follow. Among this list are economists from diverse backgrounds, with research interests in multiple areas of inquiry. Each of these scholars have contributed to the advancement of economic study and research.
In what follows, we look at influential economists over the last decade. Based on our ranking methodology, these individuals have significantly impacted the academic discipline of economics within 2010-2020. Influence can be produced in a variety of ways. Some have had revolutionary ideas, some may have climbed by popularity, but all are academicians primarily working in economics. Read more about our methodology.
Top Influential Economists 2010-2020
1. Paul Krugman
Professor Emeritus, Woodrow Wilson School
New Economic Geography, International Trade Theory
Paul Krugman is one of the most highly respected and well-known economists in the world. He is a professor emeritus of the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University, a distinguished professor of the Graduate Center Economics Ph.D program and scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study Center, both at City University of New York.
Krugman’s work in examining international trade patterns and the global distribution of economic activity and resources was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2008. His academic work has focused on economic geography, international finance and trade, and currency fluctuations. As a columnist for The New York Times, he has written countless articles on nearly every imaginable economics topic, including taxation, income distribution, and liquidity traps. He is credited with pioneering a new trade theory and a new economic geography through his work.
A favorite among peers in his field, a 2011 survey named Krugman that year’s favorite living economist under the age of 60. He has also been the recipient of the James Joyce Award, the EPI Distinguished Economist Award, and the Gerald Loeb Award for Commentary.
Krugman continues to write, commentate, and critique for various news outlets, and is widely credited for his gift for masterfully explaining complex economic concepts to the general public.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics
Social Economics, Development Economics
Esther Duflo is Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She earned a B.A. from École normale supérieure in Paris, an M.A.S. from the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, and a Ph.D from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In 2019, Duflo, along with collaborators Abhijit Banerjee and Michael Kremer, were awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for their work conducting trial experiments to alleviate poverty. She is a co-founder of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab which, with offices in Paris and India, trains researchers to develop and conduct experiments to better understand the most effective development strategies.
Her particular interest and work in India have yielded important insights into the causes and solutions of poverty. She is the director for the development economics program at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and a member of the Human Capital Research Program at the International Growth Center. She is widely respected for her contributions to economics and her work to improve the economic status of women, and was named as one of 2012′s Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine. In 2015, she received the prestigious A.SK Social Sciences Award of $200,000 from the WZB Berlin Social Sciences Center.
3.Joseph E. Stiglitz
Macroeconomics, Public Economics
Joseph Eugene Stiglitz is a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences winner, public policy analyst, and professor at Columbia University. He earned his B.A. in Amherst College and his Ph.D in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Stiglitz is another of the most highly esteemed economists in the world, having been awarded a Nobel Prize in 2001, for his work analyzing markets with asymmetric information.
His contributions to the field of economics are immeasurable. In fact, Stiglitz’s CV, with his list of publications, honors, and achievements, is over 100 pages long. He is a former chief economist and senior vice president for the World Bank. He has formerly served as the chair of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors. He founded the Columbia University’s Committee on Global Thought and the Initiative for Policy Dialogue. He is a chair for the University of Manchester’s Brooks World Poverty Institute and a former chairman of the United Nations Commission on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System.
There can be no doubt of his impact, given the highly influential roles he has held, shaping economic policy and thought at the federal and international levels. Time magazine named him as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world in 2011.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics
Social Economics, Development Economics
Abhijit Banerjee is the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned his B.Sc from the University of Calcutta, his M.A. from Jawaharlal Nehru University, and his Ph.D from Harvard University. He is a co-founder of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, with his wife Esther Duflo (also appearing on this list). Together, they are only the sixth married couple to be awarded a Nobel Prize, which they shared with collaborator Michael Kremer in 2019.
His research has focused on poverty and development. Through the Poverty Action Lab, he has conducted many experiments to determine patterns of causality between economic variables. He was chosen by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to assist with the update of the Millennium Development Goals. Banerjee is a member of the Consortium on Financial Systems and Poverty and the Innovations for Poverty Action. He currently serves on the advisory board of Plaksha University.
He has written numerous books and articles, some of which he has written in collaboration with his wife. They were awarded the Gerald Loeb Award for honorable mention for their book, Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, published in 2012. Their most recent book is called Good Economics for Hard Times.
London School of Economics, School for Advanced Studies
Economic Inequality, Public Economics
Thomas Piketty is Centennial professor at the International Inequalities Institute of London School of Economics, professor at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, and associate chair at the Paris School of Economics. He earned his Ph.D from the London School of Economics – at the age of 22, even winning an award from the French Economics Association for his thesis.
Piketty is an expert in the study of economic inequality. In his research, he uses a longitudinal approach, drawing from centuries of historical data to better understand the long term impacts of various economic policies for wealth distribution. A vocal proponent for global wealth redistribution, he has concluded that systemic income inequality will never self-correct. Instead, solutions such as a progressive global tax may prove effective.
In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, he suggests that solving income inequality will require deliberate action, but most importantly, that solving income inequality by reforming capitalism is necessary for the ongoing survival of democracy. He has written numerous books in French and English, but this book was his most highly acclaimed, earning him the British Academy Medal and reaching #1 on The New York Times bestseller list for nonfiction.
In 2015, he turned down the French Legion Medal of Honour on the principle that he would rather be honored by his peers than the government.
Thomas W. Lamont University Professor, Professor of Economics and Philosophy
Welfare Economics, Social Choice Theory, Development Economics
Amartya Sen is the Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University. He earned a B.A. in economics from the University of Calcutta and a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D from Trinity College in Cambridge.
An expert in the study of welfare economics, Sen has an impressive bibliography showcasing his research and work. Having survived the Bengal famine of 1943 as a child, his interest in economics was piqued. In his work, Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation, he concluded that the cause of famine is not always just lack of food, it is just as often a breakdown in the distribution of available resources. In the case of the Bengal famine, he found that the cause of those three million deaths was not lack of food, but a time of economic surplus in urban areas that caused an increase in prices that workers could not afford.
He has also done important work in development economics, even working with the United Nations Development Program to create their Human Development Report. His most substantial contribution to economics has been his idea of “capability”. In Sen’s view, the rights a citizen has is far less important than what they have been empowered to do – their capability.
University of California, Berkeley
Professor of Economics
Tax Avoidance, Income Inequality
Gabriel Zucman is an internationally recognized expert in corporate tax havens and Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of California at Berkeley. He earned his B.Sc from École normale supérieure de Cachan and his M.Sc and Ph.D from the Paris School of Economics.
His work has focused on quantifying the impacts of the use of tax avoidance strategies by corporations. He was recognized as the Best Young Economist in France in 2018 for his work on the impacts and consequences of tax evasion. He has served as co-director of the World Wealth and Income Database and assisted with the Quarterly Journal of Economics, Econometrica and the Journal of Political Economy, among others.
Zucman has also published The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens, which highlights the negative impacts that have arisen from the way governments use tax havens to obscure assets from other countries, and their own citizens. His research concluded that 8% of global wealth is held in these tax havens, and most often, goes unreported. He has written or co-written numerous articles about income inequality and taxation, and he ranks among the most cited in the field. He also co-founded Regards croisés sur l’économie, and serves as editor-in-chief.
Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, School of International and Public Affairs
Political Economics, International Development
Jeffrey Sachs is the Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs and professor of health policy and management for Columbia University’s School of Public Health. He completed his studies at Harvard University, earning a B.A., an M.A., and a Ph.D in economics.
Throughout his career, Sachs has studied economic geography, macroeconomics (for which he wrote a textbook), extractive industries, public health, and economic growth. His expertise has led him to work as an economic advisor for governments seeking to move from communism to capitalism, such as Bolivia and Poland.
In 2005, Sachs published a book called, The End of Poverty, in which he examines the economic and political conditions in Africa. His research suggests that with proper management and funding, we can eradicate the most extreme poverty facing people in Africa and other areas of the world. He has worked with the Islamic Development Bank and the Millennium Villages Project to attempt to address some of the needs in African countries.
Sachs’ high-profile work is not without controversy or detractors. Some have suggested that his work in Africa has made things worse, and that his approaches to helping poor nations have fostered dependence in unforeseen ways.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Emeritus Institute Professor of Economics
Macroeconomics, Solow Growth Model
Robert Solow is Emeritus Institute Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Solow earned his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D from Harvard University. In the middle of his studies, from 1941-1945, Solow served in the U.S. Army, deployed overseas during World War II.
In 1957, Solow published an article, “Technical Change and the Aggregate Production Function”, in which he identified hidden residuals making up roughly half of all economic growth – factors that could not be accounted for. Now known as “Solow residuals”, these residuals are now recognized as technologies and innovations crucial to growth and funded appropriately. He created the Solow Growth Model, which measures market output in consideration of changes to technological progress, savings, and population growth.
He has been awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Perhaps even more impressive is that four of his Ph.D students (William Nordhaus, George Akerlog, Peter Diamond and Joseph Stiglitz) have gone on to become Nobel prize winners as well. A trustee for the Economists for Peace and Security, Solow is also the founder of Le Cournot Centre. He served as a senior economist for President John F. Kennedy’s Council of Economic Advisers from 1961-1963.
Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics
Greg Mankiw is the Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics at Harvard University and a well-known macroeconomist of the New Keynesian school. He earned a B.A. in economics from Princeton University and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He studied law briefly at Harvard Law School before returning to become an assistant professor of economics at Harvard University.
Mankiw has done important study on menu costs, publishing a paper titled “Small Menu Costs and Large Business Cycles: A Macroeconomic Model of Monopoly”,which has served as the foundation for further work by economists such as Laurence Ball and David Romer. His most frequently cited paper, “A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth” has been cited more than 15,000 times.
Mankiw has also provided consultation and counsel for government officials, serving as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush. In that role he sought to provide greater oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He is well known as a blogger on all economics topics and his blog is popular among economics students and scholars alike.
Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of Economics and International Affairs Emeritus
Microeconomics, Economic Development
Angus Deaton is a Senior Scholar and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of Economics and International Affairs Emeritus at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Economics Department at Princeton University. He earned a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge.
He is best known for his research on inequality, health, poverty, wellbeing and economic development. He was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2015, for his work on welfare, consumption and poverty. Deeply invested in reducing poverty, he has been recognized by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Econometric Society and even the Queen of England, who knighted him in 2016.
In a field often plagued with self-interest, Deaton has an impeccable reputation for aspiring to the greater good. His research on poverty, an often emotionally fraught and thankless field of study, has yielded important insights that have improved economic policy and ways of measuring economic well-being and the validity and success of social welfare programs.
Deaton is a fellow of the British Academy, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics
Political Economy, Economic Growth, Labour Economics
Daron Acemoğlu is the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which also awarded him their highest honor, the title of Institute Professor, in 2019. He earned his B.A. from the University of York and his Ph.D from the London School of Economics. Acemoğlu’s research speciality is political economy. After earning his Ph.D at the age of 25, he went on to win the John Bates Clark Medal, that recognizes new economists. A prolific writer, he has published hundreds of works in his quest to understand the causes of poverty. In this work, he has researched economic development, network economics, human capital theory, and labor economics.
He has also written books with frequent collaborator and political scientist James A. Robinson, including Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy and Why Nations Fail, examinations of the impacts of politics and economics on national development.
His work has been highly praised. He has been recognized by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, who awarded him their Global Economy Prize in 2019. He was awarded the Presidential Culture and Arts Grand Award by President Abdullah Gül of Turkey. He was recognized in 2015 as the most cited economist of the decade, having been cited nearly 136,000 times.
Gates Professor of Developing Societies
Development Economics, Health Economics
Michael Kremer is the Gates Professor of Developing Societies at Harvard University, founder and president of WorldTeach, co-founder of Precision Agriculture for Development, a research affiliate for Innovations for Poverty Action, and a renowned developmental economist. He earned an A.B. in social studies and a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.
He is best known for Kremer’s O-Ring Theory of Economic Development, which suggests that production tasks must be executed proficiently in order for any task to be of high value, supporting the idea of complementary skills. He also published a study suggesting that the stockpiling of elephant ivory by governments could help reduce the incidence of poaching by allowing governments to flood the market and devalue trafficked goods.
His work with Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo resulted in them sharing the 2019 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, for their work using randomized controlled trials to test antipoverty measures. Their work to abolish global poverty has helped to advance our understanding of social economic policies and the mechanisms for promoting development within local economies.
He was instrumental in the advent of the advanced market commitment, a program focused on creating incentives to drive investment in the development of vaccines for developing nations.
Professor, Head of the School of Economics, History and Politics
Behavioral Economics, Behavioral Finance, Nudge Theory
Steve Keen is professor and Head of the School of Economics, History and Politics at Kingston University. He earned a B.A. and a Bachelor of Law from the University of Sydney and a Diploma of Education from Sydney Teachers College. He then earned a Master of Commerce in economics and economic history and a Ph.D at the University of New South Wales.
His work has leaned on Hyman Minsky’s financial instability hypothesis and Fisher’s debt deflation, and has led him to conclude that the current worldwide economic crisis is caused by overlending and overborrowing. His views on neoclassical economics have not always endeared him to modern economists. His book, Debunking Economics, casts neoclassical economics as unscientific, inconsistent, and not contributing new knowledge, but merely providing a positive feedback loop protecting old ideas. Other economists criticized his work, which they felt was based on misconceptions and calculation errors related to fundamental assumptions used.
Keen’s work has also led him to conclude that both the EU and the Euro are doomed to fail – a question of when, and not if. He reasons that failure is predetermined because of the EUs inability to avoid damaging some of its member nations when they are at their most vulnerable economically.
University of Chicago
Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics
Behavioral Economics, Behavioral Finance, Nudge Theory
Richard Thaler is the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He earned a B.A. from Case Western Reserve University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Rochester.
Thaler has taught economics for the University of Rochester, Stanford University, the SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University and, since 1995, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
Thaler is an expert in behavioral economics and has published a number of books on the topic, including Quasi-rational Economics, Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics, and Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness.
He is a proponent of libertarian paternalism, which suggests that humans shouldn’t be forced to do the right thing, but instead should be “nudged” in the right direction. This approach helps to steer people toward making better decisions without removing the right to choose.
In 2017, Thaler was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his work on limited rationality, lack of self-control, and how innately human traits affect their ability to make reasonable decisions…eventually impacting market outcomes. In short, his premise was that economics are driven by humans, and thus, the psychology of human decision-making is important to consider in the study of economics.
University Professor, McCourt School of Public Policy
Information Asymmetry, Efficiency Wages
George Akerlof is a university professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy and an emeritus professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He earned a B.A. degree from Yale University and a Ph.D from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism is Akerlof’s best-known work, examining how consumer demand for “lemon” prices among used car dealerships drives “peaches” out of the market, resulting in a market that is majority lemon and seldom yields a peach. His research eventually led to current lemon laws, in an effort to better protect consumers from larger, hidden market forces.
His other research interests have included identity economics, efficiency wages, reproductive technology, security, and macroeconomics. Akerlof serves as a trustee for Economists for Peace and Security. His work with Paul Romer yielded “Looting: The Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit”, which highlights the loopholes and systemic flaws of bankruptcy protection, allowing some companies to profit from it.
He was a co-winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001, with Michael Spence and Joseph Stiglitz. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has a seat on the advisory board for the Institute for New Economic Thinking.
Eugene Higgins Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs Emeritus, Woodrow Wilson School
Psychology, Economic Behavior
Daniel Kahneman is the Eugene Higgins Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs Emeritus for the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. He earned a B.S. in psychology from Hebrew University and an M.A. and Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley.
An expert in cognitive biases and economic behaviors, Kahneman has studied the prevalence of heuristic errors in human reasoning, intersecting those behaviors with trends in economics. He has also studied hedonic psychology, attribute substitution, planning fallacy, and human perception of life satisfaction. He was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2002 for his work on judgment and decision-making, resulting in prospect theory, which is based on experiments examining how humans handle risk and uncertainty.
Kahneman is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. His book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, was awarded the 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Award, the National Academy of Sciences Communication Award and the Talcott Parsons Prize. In 2013, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. He has been active in television and radio interviews, such as the BBC TV Series, How You Really Make Decisions, which aired from 2013 to 2014.
University College of London
Professor of Economics, Founder - Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose
Economics of Innovation
Mariana Mazzucato is founder and director of the University College of London’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, as well as professor of economics of innovation and public value. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in history and international relations from Tufts University, and a Masters and Ph.D in economics from the New School for Social Research.
An expert in the economics of innovation, she has researched the role of innovation in public and private organizations and examined methods for guiding innovation to further strategic goals. She wrote The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths, in which she suggests that the marginalization of entrepreneurship and innovation to the private sector is the wrong approach, pointing out that many consumer technologies emerged from government funded research and development efforts.
Her writing has won several awards, including the Hans Matthöfer German book prize, the IPEG Book Prize and, most recently, the All European Academies Madame de Staël Prize for Cultural Values. She serves on the Council of Economic Advisors for the Government of Scotland and as a scientific advisor for the Italian Parliamentary Budget Office. In 2019, she became a member of the United Nations Committee for Development Policy.
University of Cambridge
University Reader, Faculty of Economics
Ha-Joon Chang is a reader in Political Economy of Development at the University of Cambridge. He earned his undergraduate degree from Seoul National University, and an M.Phil and Ph.D from the University of Cambridge. He is well known for his work in institutionalist political economy, which is a study of economics that situates the economy in context with sociopolitical factors.
Chang has written a number of books about heterodox economics, such as Kicking Away the Ladder, and Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism. The former was awarded the Gunnar Myrdal Prize by the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy and revealed Chang’s conclusions that rich nations stay wealthy and maintain political dominance by preventing other countries from doing the kinds of things they did to become rich. In Bad Samaritans he responded to criticisms of his earlier work with even more evidence to support his conclusions.
Once ranked among the top 20 world thinkers, he has provided consultation to Oxfam, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other organizations around the world. He is on the advisory board for Academics Stand Against Poverty and a fellow at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
University of California, Berkeley
Professor of Economics
Public Economics, Economic History
Emmanuel Saez is a professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley. Saez studied mathematics and economics at the École normale supérieure and earned a Ph.D in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
An expert in taxation and wealth distribution, Saez has published an impressive body of work relating to economic concerns of households in the United States. He has tracked household incomes for poor, middle class and rich citizens, and found that income inequality has continued to track upwards since the Great Depression. With colleague Raj Chetty, he has studied social mobility and found that depending on geography, the economic well-being of American citizens correlated to factors such as the quality of locally available education, social capital, segregation, income inequality, and family structure. With Peter Diamond, he published a provocative paper titled, “The Case for a Progressive Tax: From Basic Research to Policy Recommendation”, which recommended an increase to the marginal tax rate for the wealthiest Americans – from 42.5% to 73%.
He was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal in 2009, for his work in the economy of taxation, and for attracting the attention of new economists, and perhaps inspiring them to investigate new lines of inquiry related to income distribution.
University of Maryland
Herman Daly is emeritus professor of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. He earned his Ph.D from Vanderbilt University. Daly served as Senior Economist for the World Bank’s Environment Department. With collaborator John B. Cobb, he designed the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare, which they recommended as a better metric of economic health or growth than Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which fails to recognize key markers of economic health.
He is perhaps best known for his work as an ecological and Georgist economist, and as editor of Toward a Steady-State Economy, a seminal anthology published first in 1973, and revised in both 1980 and 1993. He has received a number of awards for his work, including the Blue Planet Prize, the Heineken Prize for Environmental Science, the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, and the Right Livelihood Award. In 2008, Adbusters magazine named him their Man of the Year.
His published works include a textbook, now in its second printing, Ecological Economics: Principles and Applications, many books, and numerous articles, such as Economics for a Full World, published in 2015. He has also published academic essays about his research and work, including From Uneconomic Growth to a Steady-State Economy.
University of Chicago
Henry Schultz Professor in Economics
James Heckman is the Henry Schultz Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago, director of the Center for the Economics of Human Development, co-director of Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group, and professor at the Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies. He earned a B.A. in mathematics from Colorado College and a Ph.D in economics from Princeton University.
Best known for his work on labor economics, selection bias, inequality, and human development, Heckman was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. The honor was bestowed for his work on the Heckman correction, that he developed to alleviate bias, or the impacts of bias from sample sets. Bias in sample sets is a common problem for quantitative researchers. He has also studied GED certification value, impacts of the civil rights movement and childhood development.
He is a fellow of the American Academy of Art and Sciences and editor of the Journal of Political Economy. Most recently, he has published Giving Kids a Fair Chance: A Strategy that Works, and Inequality in America: What Role for Human Capital Policy. He is a senior research fellow at the American Bar Foundation and a member of the Econometric Society, the Society of Labor Economics, and the American Statistical Association.
23.James A. Robinson
University of Chicago
University Professor for the Harris School of Public Policy, Reverent Dr. Richard L. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies
James A. Robinson is the Reverent Dr. Richard L. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies and University Professor for the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, Institute Director of the Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts, an economist and political scientist. He earned a B.A. from the London School of Economics, an M.A. from the University of Warwick, and a Ph.D. from Yale University.
He takes a comparative approach to economics, studying how countries differ based on their economic and political institutions, and how those differences can lead to conflict or prosperity, particularly in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Robinson has conducted research in the field in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Sierra Leone, the Philippines, South Africa, Botswana and Chile.
He has written or co-written a number of books, including The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty, and Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy.
In addition to his work at the University of Chicago, Robinson has also taught at the University of the Andes in Bogota for many years. He has been instrumental in setting the curriculum for future economists and scholars.
Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy
International Economics, Economic Development, Political Economy
Dani Rodrik is the Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He earned a B.A. from Harvard University and an MPA and Ph.D from Princeton University.
With his focus on global markets, equality, and social stability, he has produced numerous notable works, including Has Globalization Gone Too Far?, considered to be one of the most important books about economics to be published in the 1990s. He has identified three tensions that exist in globalization efforts – equality, conflict with norms, and social safety nets. The system of globalization, he feels, can cause many of the problems that it is trying to solve, as free market economies can only participate fully to the extent that they have the economic and political means to do so. This inequity exposes fundamental differences between nations - differences that either help or harm a nation’s chances of success in a global economy.
He has written extensively about globalization, in such works as The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy and Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science. He is a member of the Center for Global Development, Institute for International Economics, and the Council on Foreign Relations.
University of Siena, Santa Fe Institute
Professor of Economics, Arthur Spiegel Research Professor and Director of the Behavioral Sciences Program
Economic Theory, Microeconomics, Inequalities
Samuel Bowles is Professor of Economics at the University of Siena in Italy, the Arthur Spiegel Research Professor and Director of the Behavioral Sciences Program at the Santa Fe Institute, and a Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He graduated from Yale University with a B.A., before earning his Ph.D in economics from Harvard University.
Bowles’ research has explored existing theories regarding the effects of inequality and free markets, finding that countries with less inequality perform better than economies with greater inequality. He is interested in how human behavior, preferences, and motivations evolve over time. He has also explored selfishness and altruism as motivating forces, seeking to understand the factors that cause a human to choose one path or the other. His work has been characterized as neo-Marxian or, for others post-Walrasian economics.
He is a cofounder of the CORE Project, which is an effort to update and advance undergraduate economic curriculum by including aspects of empathy, altruism, and care for the environment. His work is funded by the MacArthur Research Network on Preferences and by the MacArthur Research Network on Effects of Inequality on Economic Performance.
Bowles was recognized by the Global Development and Environment Institute in 2006.
Honoarble Mentions in Economics
- William Easterly, New York University
- Nancy Folbre, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
- Timur Kuran, Duke University
- Jule Nelson, University of Massachusetts, Boston
- Nouriel Roubini, New York University
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