Who’s going to win the Nobel Prize: Our Picks… In Case You’re Interested

The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Studies is awarded on Monday, October 8, 2018, and your favorite commentators from ReasonablEconomics are here to give their predictions for who will take home the prize, glory, and potential $1.4million.

Kenzi: My pick for the 2018 Nobel Prize goes to none other than, Daron Acemoglu for institutional analysis of developing economies. His CV is long and impressive–a whole 19 pages (took me 5 minutes, just to scroll through it…worth it). Unbundling Institutions is my personal favorite (I also got an A on my presentation thanks to Kathryn answering all the questions).

Kathryn: You totally threw me under the bus on that presentation. And you also stole my pick for Nobel prize winner! (Although he tends to be my pick every year – I’ve had a bit of an academic crush on his scholarly work since my undergraduate days. You have no idea how many non-economists I’ve forced to listen to me ramble on about his novel econometric model using malaria mortality rates).

In fairness of the challenge, I’ll go with someone I don’t think will ever win, but who maybe should – Deirdre McCloskey. McCloskey brought economics out of its normal corner, melding economic theory with studies of history and rhetoric. The Bourgeois trilogy is a great starting place for anyone looking to understand the development of the Western world.

And it would certainly shake things up a bit. The Nobel prize in economics has been granted primarily to older, white men. And none of their accomplishments should be in any way diminished! But giving the prize to a “literary, quantitative, postmodern, free-market, progressive Episcopalian, Midwestern woman from Boston who was once a man” (to use McCloskey’s own words) might make us reconsider just what it means to be an economist.

Kevin: I’ll bet on the age-old tradition of white men who don’t shake things up much, yet have influenced the field more than (almost) any of the others. How do we measure that? Citations.

Robert Barro, a renowned professor of macroeconomics at Harvard, has killed the citations game. According to the Research Papers in Economics, he is the fifth most influential economist in the world via citations. (The fourth most influential economist, by the way, is Daron Acemoglu, but he’s still too young to win.) He’s dabbled in all sorts of macro issues, pushing forward mainstream analysis while simultaneously calling out B.S. on government stimulus policies.

I thought he would win last year, but in keeping up with the “fake news” trend, the behavioralist won the prize in economics instead. #shotsfired This year, it’s time to get back to economics and appreciate some (good?) macro work. It’s rare. At age 74, he’s ripe for the taking. Just give it to him already.

Alex: Oh look, Kevin goes for Barro for the second year in a row! If he says it enough he’ll be right eventually, just like a macroeconomist.

I think this year I’ll pick a Chicago economist to play it safe. After all, they’ve won 29 of the last 79 Nobel Prizes. Kevin M Murphy is a labor economist who’s written articles with Gary Becker, Andrei Shleifer, Robert Topel, and many other notable economists. He won the John Bates Clark medal and the John von Neumann award, which are awards that have been given to many who went on to be Nobel Laureates. Acemoglu is the only other scholar mentioned by one of us RE folks who have won both of these awards, and to Kevin’s point, Dr. Murphy is older.

Murphy has written about possible causes of the increasing natural rate of unemployment over time, increasing wage inequalities, and even papers on advertising! He’s been pushing forward the labor market field both in these more empirical econometric processes and theoretical thought in papers on human capital.

James: Kevin picks Robert Barro again? I sense a self-fulfilling prophecy coming to play: If he says it enough times, eventually it will come to pass. However, I must admit I am more disappointed in the ladies not picking a woman to win the big award! That being said, I will shake it up and pick a woman to win this year’s award, Susan C. Athey.

Elinor Ostrom is the only woman to win the Nobel Prize in economics for her work in the field, and it is due time for another woman to step into the spotlight. Dr. Athey is a world-class, one-of-a-kind economist, confirmed by her winning the prestigious John Bates Clark Award in 2007. (Most economists who have won this award go on to win the Nobel in Economics.) She is a professor of Technology Economics at Stanford University. Technology is increasingly taking a larger role in our lives, both on an individual level and in the public policy arena. I think the woman whose work is driving the conversation deserves the recognition and prize.

Dani: These have been predictable (read boring)– go big, or go home. My pick is Tyler Cowen. Acclaimed for “finding a market in everything,” Tyler Cowen has made the study of economics accessible to new audiences through his (and Alex Tabarrok’s) incredibly popular blog Marginal Revolution, the online education platform MRU, and his podcast, Conversations with Tyler. He has done more to make the study of markets accessible than anyone else I can think of, in addition to being an outstanding scholar in his own right. (Malcolm Gladwell described his most recent book, The Complacent Class, as “brilliant.”) To top all of this off, he’s an art collector, foodie, and writes about political philosophy in his spare time. Is he the head of the department I’m in? Yes. Am I doing this for kudos? No.

Final Note From Kathryn: Did you know that the so-called “Nobel prize in Economics” isn’t actually a true Nobel prize? It’s actually the “Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.” Although all the awards are awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences at the same ceremony, all the original Nobel prizes were created by Alfred Nobel in his will. The economics award was actually created by the Swedish bank Sveriges Riksbank (in memory of dear departed Alfred). But everyone still calls it the Nobel Prize in Economics.

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