Influential Black Economists

Influential Black Economists

Our list of influential Black economists is composed of leaders in the field who are paving the way for future economists. They are doing groundbreaking work in areas such as government, business, education, and public policy.

Top 10 Black Economists from the Last 30 Years

  1. Thomas Sowell
  2. Walter E. Williams
  3. Caroline Hoxby
  4. Glenn Loury
  5. Julianne Malveaux
  6. Boyce Watkins
  7. Edward B. Montgomery
  8. Cecilia Conrad
  9. Robert C. Weaver
  10. Andrew Brimmer

Where have the most influential Black scholars and thought leaders in history earned their degrees, regardless of discipline? Check out The Colleges with the Most Influential Black Graduates.

Economics is the study of production, consumption, and the transfer of wealth. These are concepts that apply to virtually every area of labor and commerce, which means that your economics major could qualify you to work in nearly infinite settings. The University of Buffalo adds that the purpose of economics is is to determine the most logical and effective use of resources to meet private and social goal

According to the Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession (CSMGEP), minority and disadvantaged groups have been historically under-represented in the field of economics. This is a cause for concern because under-representation of these groups can affect important policy decisions. Of the 33,352 economics degrees awarded in the U.S. to citizens and permanent residents, only 1,695 of those degrees were awards to Black graduates.

Degrees Awarded in Economics by Race (2015-2016)

Economics has several sub-fields including microeconomics, macroeconomics, industrial economics, financial, and labor economics. The National Economic Association was founded in 1969 to promote the professional lives of minorities within the profession. Black economists are researching, teaching, and publishing in numerous areas, including:

  • Charles L. Betsey is researching the racial wealth gap.
  • Willliam D. Bradford is researching and publishing in the area of minority and small business, corporate finance, and corporate governance.
  • International economist Susan M. Collins researches in fostering economic growth in industrial, emerging market, and developing countries. She has also served as a senior staff economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisors.
  • Lisa D. Cook is also working in the fields of development and international finance, in addition to macroeconomics and innovation.
  • Damon Jones works with public finance, household finance, and behavioral economics, researching and teaching on microeconomics, public policy, and income tax policy.

40 Influential Black Economists From the Last 30 Years

The Black scholars in our list were identified as highly cited and searched people using our machine-powered Influence Ranking algorithm, which produces a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia, wikidata, Crossref, Semantic Scholar and an ever-growing body of data.

Influence is dynamic, therefore some of the economists listed are contemporary scholars while others may be more historical figures. In either case, according to our AI, these are the most cited and searched Black economists in over the past 30 years.

Find out more about our Methodology.

This list is arranged alphabetically

  1. Elizabeth Asiedu

    Elizabeth Asiedu is a professor of economics at the University of Kansas. She has facilitated research that is centered around foreign aid, foreign directed investment , and gender. She is a founder of the Association for the Advancement of African Women , as well as the current president of the organization. Asiedu is an editor of the Journal of African Development.
  2. Charles L. Betsey

    Charles L. Betsey is an American economist who is professor emeritus of Economics and Former Interim Dean of the Graduate School at Howard University. He is a former president of the National Economic Association.
  3. William D. Bradford

    1944 - Present (80 years)
    William Donald Bradford is an American economist who is Professor Emeritus of Finance and former Dean of the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. He is a former president of the National Economic Association and was inducted into the Minority Business Hall of Fame in 2013.
  4. Andrew Brimmer

    1926 - 2012 (86 years)
    Andrew Felton Brimmer was an American economist and business leader who served as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors from 1966 to 1974. A member of the Democratic Party, Brimmer was the first African American to sit on the Board.
  5. Susan M. Collins

    1959 - Present (65 years)
    Susan M. Collins is an American economist who has served as the 14th president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston since July 1, 2022. She is the first African American woman and first woman of color to lead any of the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks. Collins previously served as the 16th provost and executive vice president for academic affairs of the University of Michigan from 2020 to 2022.
  6. Cecilia Conrad

    1955 - Present (69 years)
    Cecilia Ann Conrad is the CEO of Lever for Change, emeritus professor of economics at Pomona College, and a senior advisor to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She formerly served as the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Pomona College and previously oversaw the foundation’s MacArthur Fellows and 100&Change programs as managing director. Her research focuses on the effects of race and gender on economic status.
  7. Lisa D. Cook

    Lisa DeNell Cook is an American economist who has served as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors since May 23, 2022. She is the first African American woman and first woman of color to sit on the Board. Before her appointment to the Federal Reserve, she was elected to the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  8. William A. Darity, Jr.

    1953 - Present (71 years)
    William A. “Sandy” Darity Jr. is an American economist and social sciences researcher. Darity’s research spans economic history, development economics, economic psychology, and the history of economic thought, but most of his research is devoted to group-based inequality, especially with respect to race and ethnicity. His 2005 paper in the Journal of Economics and Finance established Darity as the ‘founder of stratification economics.’ His varied research interests have also included the trans-Atlantic slave trade, African American reparations and the economics of black reparations, and soci...
  9. Roland G. Fryer Jr.

    1977 - Present (47 years)
    Roland Gerhard Fryer Jr. is an American economist and professor at Harvard University. Following a difficult childhood, Fryer earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Texas at Arlington, but once there chose to concentrate instead on academics. Graduating cum laude in years, he went on to receive a Ph.D. in economics from Pennsylvania State University in 2002 and completed postdoctoral work at the University of Chicago with Gary Becker. He joined the faculty of Harvard University and rapidly rose through the academic ranks; in 2007, at age 30, he became the second-youngest profess...
  10. Abram Lincoln Harris

    1899 - 1963 (64 years)
    Abram Lincoln Harris, Jr. was an American economist, academic, anthropologist and a social critic of the condition of blacks in the United States. Considered by many as the first African American to achieve prominence in the field of economics, Harris was also known for his heavy influence on black radical and neo-conservative thought in the United States. As an economist, Harris is most famous for his 1931 collaboration with political scientist Sterling Spero to produce a study on African-American labor history titled The Black Worker and his 1936 work The Negro as Capitalist, in which he cr...
  11. Angela P. Harris

    1961 - Present (63 years)
    Angela P. Harris is an American legal scholar at UC Davis School of Law, in the fields of critical race theory, feminist legal scholarship, and criminal law. She held the position of professor of law at UC Berkeley School of Law, joining the faculty in 1988. In 2009, Harris joined the faculty of the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School as a visiting professor. In 2010, she also assumed the role of acting vice dean for research and faculty development. In 2011, she accepted an offer to join the faculty at the UC Davis School of Law, and began teaching as a professor of law in th...
  12. Peter Blair Henry

    1969 - Present (55 years)
    Peter Blair Henry, an economist, was the ninth Dean of New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, and William R. Berkley Professor of Economics and Business, and author of TURNAROUND: Third World Lessons for First World Growth . Previously, he was the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of International Economics at Stanford University.
  13. Caroline Hoxby

    1966 - Present (58 years)
    Caroline Minter Hoxby is an American economist whose research focuses on issues in education and public economics. She is currently the Scott and Donya Bommer Professor in Economics at Stanford University and program director of the Economics of Education Program for the National Bureau of Economic Research. Hoxby is a John and Lydia Pearce Mitchell University Fellow in Undergraduate Education. She is also a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  14. Willene Johnson

    Willene A. Johnson is an American economist who is a former vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, former U.S. Executive Director of the African Development Bank, and a former president of the National Economic Association.
  15. Damon Jones

    Damon Jones is an American economist and associate professor at the Harris School of Public Policy in the University of Chicago. Alongside his academic research, Jones is a popular science communicator and regularly provides expert commentary on issues related to economics and public policy. During the COVID-19 pandemic he investigated the disproportionate impact of coronavirus disease on communities of color, and delivered evidence on his findings before the United States House Committee on the Budget.
  16. Raynard S. Kington

    Raynard S. Kington is an American educator and the 16th Head of School of Phillips Academy in Andover. Previously, he was the 13th president of Grinnell College. He has served as the deputy director and acting director of the National Institutes of Health.
  17. Trevon Logan

    Trevon D’Marcus Logan is an American economist. He is the Hazel C. Youngberg Trustees Distinguished Professor in the Department of Economics and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio State University, where he was awarded the 2014 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching. He is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. In 2014, he was the youngest-ever president of the National Economic Association. In 2019, he was the inaugural North Hall Economics Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2020, he was named the inaugural di...
  18. Glenn Loury

    1948 - Present (76 years)
    Glenn Cartman Loury, is an American economist, academic, and author. He is the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences and Professor of Economics at Brown University, where he has taught since 2005. At the age of 33, Loury became the first African American professor of economics at Harvard University to gain tenure.
  19. Linda Datcher Loury

    1952 - 2011 (59 years)
    Linda Datcher Loury was an American economist who was a professor of economics at Tufts University. Her work on family and neighborhood economics put her among the founders of social economics. Biography Loury was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1952. She attended the Friends School of Baltimore, Swarthmore College , and earned a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1978. She held research and teaching positions at the University of Michigan and the Harvard Kennedy School before joining the faculty of Tufts University in 1984, where she worked for the remainder of her life. ...
  20. Julianne Malveaux

    1953 - Present (71 years)
    Julianne Marie Malveaux is an American economist, author, social and political commentator, and businesswoman. After five years as the 15th president of Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, she resigned on May 6, 2012.
  21. Susan Williams McElroy

    Susan Williams McElroy is an American economist who is an Associate Professor of Economics and Education Policy at the University of Texas-Dallas. She is a former president of the National Economic Association.
  22. Edward B. Montgomery

    1955 - Present (69 years)
    Edward B. Montgomery is an American economist, academic, and politician who currently serves as the president of Western Michigan University. He is one of the key players in helping pull the United States out of the automotive crisis. He served in President Barack Obama’s administration and was coined the auto czar of the United States.
  23. Samuel Myers Jr.

    1949 - Present (75 years)
    Samuel L. Myers Jr. is an American economist and Roy Wilkins Professor of Human Relations and Social Justice in the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. He has been awarded the Samuel Z. Westerfield Jr., Award by the National Economic Association and the Marilyn J. Gittell Activist Scholar Award from the Urban Affairs Association and SAGE Publishing. In 2007, Myers was elected as a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.
  24. Alfred E. Osborne

    Alfred E. Osborne Jr is an American economist who is senior associate dean, Professor of Global Economics, Management and Entrepreneurship, and founder and faculty director of The Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at UCLA Anderson School of Management. He is also chair of the Board of Trustees of Fidelity Charitable, and is a former president of the National Economic Association.
  25. James Peoples

    1959 - Present (65 years)
    James H. Peoples Jr. is an American economist who is a professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and a former president of the National Economic Association and the Transportation and Public Utilities Group. He is an expert in the economics of transportation and transportation labor issues.
  26. Gregory Price

    Gregory N. Price is an American economist who is a professor of economics at the University of New Orleans, and a former president of the National Economic Association. Education and early life Price grew up in New Haven, Connecticut. He graduated from Morehouse College and received his MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
  27. Emmett J. Rice

    1919 - 2011 (92 years)
    Emmett John Rice was an American economist, academic, bank executive, and member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. He served with the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, taught at Cornell University during the 1950s, and was a noted expert in the monetary systems of developing countries. Susan Rice, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and National Security Advisor to Barack Obama, is his daughter.
  28. William Rodgers

    William M. Rodgers, III is an American economist who is a professor of Public Policy at Rutgers University and the former Chief Economist for the U.S. Department of Labor in 2000–2001. Education and early life Rodgers graduated from Dartmouth College and earned a PhD from Harvard University.
  29. Cecilia Rouse

    1963 - Present (61 years)
    Cecilia Elena Rouse is an American economist who was named as President of the Brookings Institution with an effective date of January 2024. She served as the 30th Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers between 2021 and 2023. She is the first Black American to hold this position. Prior to this, she served as the dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Joe Biden nominated Rouse to be Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers in November 2020. Rouse was overwhelmingly confirmed by the Senate on March 2, 2021, by a vote of 95–4. She resigned o...
  30. Thomas Sowell

    1930 - Present (94 years)
    Thomas Sowell is an American economist, author and social commentator. He is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. With widely published commentary and books—and as a guest on TV and radio—he became a well-known voice in the American conservative movement as a prominent black conservative. He was a recipient of the National Humanities Medal from President George W. Bush in 2002.
  31. William Spriggs

    1955 - 2023 (68 years)
    William Edward Spriggs was an American economist who was a professor of economics at Howard University, chief economist for the AFL-CIO, and Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2012.
  32. Gloria Bromell Tinubu

    1953 - Present (71 years)
    Gloria Bromell Tinubu is an applied economist, educator, and political figure. She served on the Atlanta City Council and as a member of the Georgia State Assembly, as well as running as a candidate for Mayor of Atlanta.
  33. William J. Trent

    1910 - 1993 (83 years)
    William Johnson Trent, Jr. was an African-American economist, non-profit director and civil rights activist from Atlanta, Georgia. Career Trent was born in Asheville, North Carolina and moved with his family to Atlanta at an early age. His father, William J. Trent, Sr., was an early organizer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People . He graduated from a black private high school in Atlanta and attended Livingstone College, from which he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1930. His father was president of Livingstone at the time. He then earned a master’s degree in...
  34. Phyllis Ann Wallace

    1921 - 1993 (72 years)
    Phyllis A. Wallace was a distinguished African-American economist and activist, as well as the first woman to receive doctorate of economics at Yale University. Her work tended to focus on racial, as well as gender discrimination in the workplace.She mentored many students and colleagues.
  35. Boyce Watkins

    1971 - Present (53 years)
    Boyce D. Watkins is an American author, political analyst, social influencer and ex-academic. In addition to publishing scholarly articles on finance and investing, Watkins is an advocate for education, economic empowerment, and social justice, and has made regular appearances in various national media outlets, including CNN, Good Morning America, MSNBC, Fox News, BET, NPR, Essence, USA Today, Today, ESPN, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, and CBS Sports. He was also a frequent guest on The Wendy Williams Experience radio program, and remains a frequent contributor to the Grio.
  36. Robert C. Weaver

    1907 - 1997 (90 years)
    Robert Clifton Weaver was an American economist, academic, and political administrator who served as the first United States secretary of housing and urban development from 1966 to 1968, when the department was newly established by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Weaver was the first African American to be appointed to a US cabinet-level position.
  37. Walter E. Williams

    1936 - 2020 (84 years)
    Walter Edward Williams was an American economist, commentator, and academic. Williams was the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, as well as a syndicated columnist and author. Known for his classical liberal and libertarian views, Williams’s writings frequently appeared in Townhall, WND, and Jewish World Review. Williams was also a popular guest host of the Rush Limbaugh radio show when Limbaugh was unavailable.
  38. William Julius Wilson

    1935 - Present (89 years)
    William Julius Wilson is an American sociologist, a professor at Harvard University, and an author of works on urban sociology, race, and class issues. Laureate of the National Medal of Science, he served as the 80th President of the American Sociological Association, was a member of numerous national boards and commissions. He identified the importance of neighborhood effects and demonstrated how limited employment opportunities and weakened institutional resources exacerbated poverty within American inner-city neighborhoods.
  39. Charles Wilson

    Charles Zachary Wilson is an American economist who is Professor Emeritus at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education. He was the first Black individual to serve as an Academic Vice-Chancellor in the University of California System, and was among the founders of the National Economic Association.

This list is far from exhaustive; if you have a suggestion for someone to add, please contact us.

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Key Associations for Black Economists

  • National Economic Association is an organization that offers membership to minority professionals and graduate students in the field of economics and a wide of related disciplines.

For more the most famous Black scholars of the last 30 years, visit our Influential Black Scholars page. If you want more in Earth science, visit our Earth Sciences page to find more influential Earth scientists, top colleges and universities for Earth science, and more.

Other Influential Black Scholars by Academic Discipline

Featured Image Credits Include:

  • Julianne Malveaux, By Lastwordprod - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.
  • Thomas Sowell, By Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions.
  • Walter E. Williams, By Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University - Screenshot at 8:11 of YouTube video Dr. Walter E. Williams — "The Role of Government in a Free Society", CC BY 3.0.
  • Cecilia Rouse, By The White House - P20210720AS-3425-2, Public Domain.
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