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Dr. Christian Zimmermann’s IDEAS website can best be described as an economics version of a fantasy football statistical database. The St. Louis Federal Reserve economist, with the help of the Research Papers in Economics organisation, created 31 different rankings — mostly various weights showing number and recency of citations, along with “impact factors” based on the importance of the journals in which they were cited — to sort major economics papers and their authors.
He then combined 31 rankings to create an uber-list of which economists have penned the greatest number of important papers.
It makes for an interesting comparison with our list of the 20 most important economics papers as compiled by the American Economic Review.
We reached Dr. Zimmermann by email, and he said there are really three top scorers: Andrei Shleifer, Harvard; Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia; and James Heckman, Chicago. The formula is such that the trio often swap top spots. Only Shleifer lacks a Nobel.
Stiglitz is probably most well known for his left-liberal views and criticisms of globalization. Heckman’s work on root causes of poverty has earned him equal international renown.
Shleifer is known as an expert on the economics of institutions and the confluence of law and economics. He’s also published the most recent papers in journals with great impact in their fields and which have been cited many times — for instance, “Regulation and Distrsust,” which looks at the affect of government regulation on social capital (it’s negative), was published three years ago but has already been cited at least 41 times.
Here is the full table:
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