Friday, August 12, 2011

A Fun Way To Rank Economists!

Comparing economists is a bit like comparing apples and oranges.  There is so much diversity in the topics that they approach, and different approaches that they take.  A lot of places like JSTOR rank them by citations, IDEAS ranks them with a compilation of 31 methodologies.  According to their rankings, Andrei Shleifer of Harvard is number one.  I love ranking anything!  I think this goes back to my childhood love of baseball statistics.

There are so many awards that economists can have.  The Nobel Prize is probably the top award in the field, but the John Bates Clark Medal, and being President of the American Economic Association are both highly regarded as well.  Acquiring a great job is the best thing that can happen to any economist, so heading a central bank or any economics department are both extremely prestigious honors as well.

I started entering all the living economists names that I could think of into Google Trends to see who is the most searched for name at Google in 2011.  I think it's an interesting addition to the ways of ranking economists because it shows searches and general awareness.  Here are my results:

As you can see Paul Krugman has a pretty comfortable lead.  He is the trend setter in this exercise with a 1.00 that everyone else's scores are based on.  Why not?  The guy has the bully pulpit of a New York Times column to work with, not to mention all the best-selling books he's written and a Nobel Prize.

Both number two Manmohan Singh and number three Ben Bernanke fill important government positions which land them in the news regularly.  They both still appear on this list because they are both trained economists that later became the Prime Minister and Chairman respectively.

Top Economists in Google Trends:

1.  Paul Krugman, Princeton University (1.00)
2.  Manmohan Singh, India (.58)
3.  Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve Board (.44)
4.  Amartya Sen, Harvard University (.38)
5.  Alan Greenspan (.28)
6.  Thomas Sowell, Hoover Institute (.26)
7.  Nouriel Roubini, New York University (.22)
8.  Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia University (.20)
9.  Walter Williams, George Mason University (.18)
10.Robert Hall, Stanford University (.12)
10.Justin Lin, World Bank (.12)
12.Brad DeLong, University of California, Berkeley (.10)
12.Simon Johnson, M.I.T. (.10)
12.Mervyn King, Bank of England (.10)
12.Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University (.10)
16.Gloria Arroyo (.08)
16.Greg Mankiw, Harvard University (.08)
16.Robert Merton, Harvard University (.08)
16.Robert Shiller, Yale University (.08)
20.Gary Becker, University of Chicago (.06)
20.Agustin Carstens, Bank of Mexico (.06)
20.Tyler Cowen, George Mason University (.06)
20.Peter Diamond, M.I.T. (.06)
20.Austan Goolsbee, University of Chicago (.06)
20.Elinor Ostrom, Indiana University / Arizona State University (.06)
26.Esther Duflo, M.I.T. (.04)
26.Steven Levitt, University of Chicago (.04)
26.Gene Sperling, National Economic Council (.04)
26.Jean-Claude Trichet, European Central Bank (.04)
30.Michael Spence, Hoover Institute (.02)
30.Olivier Blanchard, M.I.T. (.02)
30.Mark Carney, Bank of Canada (.02)
30.Robert Lawrence, Harvard University (.02)
30.Robert Lucas, University of Chicago (.02)
30.Kenneth Rogoff, Harvard University (.02)
30.Lawrence Summers, Harvard University (.02)

If you notice a name that I have forgotten, just go to Google Trends and put in Paul Krugman's name first, separate with a comma, and then any additional economists (up to five at a time).  Put their name in quotes ("Paul Krugman") as to search for the term, and not the individual names Paul and Krugman.  I didn't list many economists that received 0's because I am not doing this exercise to embarrass anyone, it's just for fun.  Please post any new results in the comments section.

There were a hand full that I removed for having (what I felt were) abnormally high scores.  John Nash of Princeton received a 1.14.  I realise he is famous from A Beautiful Mind and game theory.  I'm going to skip him for the technicality that he is a mathematician but really it's because I don't understand his score at all.  John B. Taylor of Stanford received a .78, if just listed as John Taylor.  I removed him because he was not his top Google search, but rather third behind a musician and a football player.  Peter Phillips of Yale received a .24 but has the unfortunate position of having a member of the British royal family sharing his name, which skewed his results around the time of the recent royal wedding.  James Hamilton of University of California, San Diego received a .18, but the economist was not the top site listed in his Google search, and the same for Kevin Murphy (.28) of the University of Chicago and James Robinson of Harvard (.14).  Surely these economists receive and deserve recognition as well.

Here are also some other fun comparisons to make:

The "Marginal Revolution" Authors

Capitalism versus Socialism

Keynes versus Hayek


  1. summers was that low? You should try muhummad Yunus, he is an economist by trade

  2. He got a 0. It's a tough game.

    Joseph Ward