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The Best Economics Papers Ever?

Photo: Cliff

In celebration of its 100-year anniversary, the American Economic Review asked six “eminent economists” (Kenneth J. Arrow, B. Douglas Bernheim, Martin S. Feldstein, Daniel L. McFadden, James M. Poterba, and Robert M. Solow) to select the journal’s top 20 papers ever published. On the list: Simon Kuznets‘s 1955 paper on inequality, the 1928 paper laying out the Cobb-Douglas function, Arrow’s paper on the market for medical care, and Stephen Ross‘s 1973 paper on the principal-agent problem with moral hazard. The author of an Economist article on the top 20 also offers up 11 things he learned while writing about the top 20 papers. One good example: “Paul Douglas of Cobb-Douglas fame was a remarkable man. (A Quaker, he nonetheless joined the Marines at the age of 50, earning two purple hearts, before serving three terms as Martin Luther King Jr‘s favourite senator. Most memorable, however, were his prewar tussles with his fellow Chicago aldermen, ‘the smartest bunch of bastards I ever saw grouped together’).”