The best young economists?

Who are the best young economists? RePEc publishes all sorts of rankings based on its data, but has so far been missing one that highlights the best young economists. Indeed, they are typically invisible from the general rankings as it takes many years to build up the required body of work and citations to be featured among the top economists.

Unfortunately, authors registering with RePEc do not supply their year of birth or the year they obtained their last graduate degree. However, RePEc has information about the date of most publications, and it is then possible to determine (roughly) when a career started. Here, we do not make the type of publication (article vs. working paper, for example), as the goal is to try to approximate when the economist started being active in research.

Based on this criterion, two groups of economists are selected: those with their first publication, whatever the medium, less than five years ago, and those less than ten years ago. Quite obviously, there is considerably more measurement error compared to that already present in the general ranking, first because of the imperfect measure of the start of the career, second because the body of work is typically much smaller. But we hope people will still find these rankings useful.

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5 Responses to The best young economists?

  1. rtol says:

    Thanks, Christian, this is very useful

    I probably argued this before, but it would be good to also have a ranking based on annual productivity.

    The current rankings are based on life-time achievement. One could also rank authors based on life-time achievement / years since first publication. The latter would be a fairer comparison of the forty-somethings and the sixty-somethings.

  2. There does not seem to be a limit to the ways one can rank people… I am looking at a few that I could implement in the near future. Suggestions are always welcome. By the way, this ranking was suggested by Harald Uhlig.

  3. rtol says:

    Mine is not a suggestion to create as many rankings as possible. That would be silly. Correlations are so high that little information is added with new rankings.

    However, the current ranking is based on life-time achievement. That is valid. But, if you consider that number 1 on the list is 10 years older than number 2, who in turn is 10 years older than number 12, then you begin to wonder. Acemoglu’s score is almost the same as Stiglitz’, in a career that was half as long. So, Acemoglu is better at scoring points than Stiglitz.

    Some may argue that Acemoglu is therefore the better economist. Others would argue that there is technological progress in writing papers etc. Both arguments would be revealed through rankings normalised by length of career.

  4. Dividing output by the number of years of activity, or something like that, will lead to spurious results for the youngest ones (see how they are spurious in the ranking of young economists), and rankings would not be credible. I would rather do something based on the last X years of output, so as to have an idea who is the best economist right now. I have in mind X=10.

  5. rtol says:

    That would work too, but does not measure technological progress.

    If you are worried about measurement error in the youngest, why not divide by years of activity X and exclude anyone with X < 3?

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