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Oh to Be Young Again

It is hard to believe that it was 20 years ago when the Economist magazine first ran a story on the hot young economists to watch. I remember reading and re-reading that article. In particular, I was amazed that a guy I was taking a course from — a young professor named Alberto Alesina — made the list.

His course was one of the best I ever took as an undergraduate, but I had no idea he was a superstar. I was oblivious to those sorts of things and had just chosen the course because it sounded interesting. I suspect some of my peers who signed up for the class were better informed, because out of an enrollment of about 15 students in that class, at least four of us are now tenured economists at top universities.

The last thing in the world I would have predicted at that time (as I headed off to management consulting) was that I would be included as one of the rising stars of the profession in the follow-up article the Economist wrote 10 years later.

Now, 10 years later, the Economist is back again with a third installment in the series.

Despite the fact that I am now over-the-hill, I still managed to snag a little air time in the latest rundown of the new generation of economic talent. It is wonderful to see my friend and co-author Roland Fryer on the list described as an “intellectual heir,” and I don’t even think he would bristle at that description. My friend and colleague Jesse Shapiro also made the list. He too is described as my intellectual heir, but I think he would rightfully bristle at that moniker. He is a Becker/Glaeser/Murphy/Shleifer heir if there ever was one.

Speaking of heirs, 20 years from now should be just about perfect timing for my oldest daughters to make the list.