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« You Cannot Be Serious! Paul Krugman's Nobel Prize | Main | Does Comovement in the Data Undermine the Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle? »


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This is good news, if true. Although given the current trend towards Big Government, I doubt if economists have absorbed the lessons of Hayek. As a law student, I have noticed that Hayek has had a lot of influence on legal theory, although when I speak to my economist friends neo-classical theorists are the only ones they know.

Perhaps after Mises, Hayek was definitely the most learned libertarian intellectual of the 20th century. Milton Friedman simply did not have the intellectual range of Hayek; Friedman was more of a "policy entrepreneur". But Friedman was clearly the best speaker out of all three, and probably the most mathematically skilled (hence his influence in pop culture). If I had to rank libertarian economists in terms of originality and calibre, I would go: (1) Mises (2) Hayek (3) Friedman (4) Rothbard.

I am very happy with this result, too. It is nevertheless remarkable that neither Mises not Rothbard gets mentioned. What is the explanation for this? As regards Mises, I have my own idea. Even if he was the most original as an economist, he committed a few just too big blunders, especially in methodology...

Why is it remarkable that a giant such as Arrow would not mention a clown like Rothbard? Does Hayek mention him in his Nobel lecture?

Rothbard indeed. Funniest thing I've heard all year.

What on earth would merit Rothbard earning a mention in the lectures? Why would a Nobel Laureate have any need to reference a libertarian activist and pamphleteer?

OK, upon a second reflection I certainly agree as far as Rothbard is concerned. But what about Mises, according to some the greatest economist of the 20th century?

It is a cute paper - but I'm not sure what it is telling us. Hayek, a Nobel prize winner, gets mentioned by other prize winners in their prize winning speech. Okay. A better test, involving a bit more work for little pay-off, would be to look through the actual work of Nobel winners and observe the cites to Hayek - to minimise the project, say just look at the seminal works of the winner. Doing that, I suspect, the Hayek cites will decline (I'll be very pleased if they don't, of course).

Sukrit - the law circles you move in are influenced by Hayek's LLL. But most economics students at your uni won't have heard of Hayek or read any of his stuff, let alone Mises. Rothbard is like Kabbalah - it should not be exposed to youthful and impressionable minds until they have studied for an extended period on time - otherwise they go 'mad'. :)

To the contrary, Rothbard is simple and straightforward, excellent for kids. -:)

To the contrary, Rothbard is simple and straightforward, excellent for kids. -:)


That is the mystery to be explained. If you look at citations in SSCI, Hayek's influence is negligible compared to others, but in terms of his influence among elite economists LATE in their careers it is huge. Why do you think that is? What explains the gap in the citation record?


Perhaps because Hayek is a "philosopher among the economists" and because scholars - non-philosophers - when they grow older typically experience a greater desire to put things into philosophical perspective. But there are other Austrians with philosophical pretences - especially Mises, and also Rothbard - so this doesn´t yet explain why Hayek gets quoted and neither Mises nor Rothbard. So the answer must be something like: Hayek is a BETTER philosopher (or is perceived as one).

Hayek's pre-WWII technical work is largely ignored these days (that may change with it coming back into print) so that explains the low cites. Many economists go through a reflective stage in their late careers and that may explain the pick up. I don't know what they're citing though, that may be worth looking at. (If it is Constitution of Liberty or LLL or the information stuff all well and good. If it is Road to Serfdom then less so. Road to Serfdom is a classic of the twentieth century and is likely to be cited in any reflective overview.)

Mises isn't cited much because he turns reviewers off. Outside of those who have read him anyone who has heard of Mises is likely to have a poor opinion of him. (One of the hats I wear is working at a free market think tank, and even there they don't want to see too many references to Mises because people think that he was some sort of extremist.) The more anyone reads of Mises the better he becomes, but not enough people make that investment and simply rely on the sterotypical view. This isn't helped by encountering Rothbardians. I don't now what American Rothbardians are like, but the Australian variety tend to be rude and obnoxious. So some of my colleages of the view that you can like Hayek, but not Mises and never Rothbard.

Sinclair, where are these australian rothbardians you speak of? If you're a rothbardian I presume you have to be anti-State, anti-war and pro-market, because that's what Rothbard was. But most australian libertarians appear to view liberty as meaning "low taxes" and not much else. So where are these libertarians who understand Rothbard? I have not found any at the Centre for Independent Studies, and certainly not at the (conservative) Institute of Public Affairs.

There are no Rothbardians that I know of at either the CIS or IPA (which is hardly conservative). Chris Berg at the IPA has read more Rothbard than I have, and is probably a bit more sympathetic to him than I am. I do occasionally meet Rothbardians in classes and also met some at a CIS Liberty and Society weekend. I don't think you'd find either of those two think tanks promoting Rothbard - who would be far too radical (and anarchistic) for Australian tastes. Our own Prime Minister, for example, thinks that Hayek is some sort of extremist (but at least has heard of Hayek).

Overall you're being a bit too harsh on Australian libertarians (or classical lberals). Those that I know (at the CIS, IPA and elsewhere) are pro-market, anti-state and anti-war. Although there is some debate as to whether the Iraq war is covered by the self-defence postulate or not.

This is interesting. My first thought was: hang on, he hasn't allowed for the fact that the earlier prize winners have had more time to rack-up citations. And indeed the top three are all early winners (Arrow 72, Hayek 74, Samuelson 70), but Lucas and especially Phelps are much more recent winners. If you compare the top 13 with the bottom 13 (the bottom 13 are those who have <= 1 citation in both tables) the average winning year is 1989 for the top and 1991 for the bottom; the respective medians are 1991 and 1990. So no difference there.

Nationality does seem to make a difference though. The US has 80% of the top 13, 60% of all winners and 38% of the bottom 13. Are US economists just better, or do they cite each other more often?

Another interesting observation that might just be a statistical quirk is that of the top 13 only one won the prize between 1977 and 1989 - Modigliani in 1985. Whereas 6 of the bottom 13 won their prize in these years. So where the years 1977-1989 just less good than the periods before and after. Was there a whole generation of second rate economists?

"Are US economists just better, or do they cite each other more often?"

I think its fairly clear the US leads the world in the social sciences? You just have to follow the trail of original thought. Most other countries are second-hand dealers in ideas - the original thinkers in non-American countries tend to gravitate to well-paid positions in the US, because that's where the opportunities are.

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