Thursday, 29 December 2016

The most forgotten Nobel Prize winners in economics are...

A new paper (open access) in the latest issue of the journal Applied Economics Letters by Aloys Prinz (University of Munster) caught my eye. In the paper, Prinz develops a measure of the memorability of Nobel Prize winners in economics:
In this article, fame, as measured by the number of Google hits at a certain time t, is supposed to be fading with time. The importance of a Nobel Prize laureate seems to be the higher, the more she or he is remembered years after receiving the Prize.
The paper focuses on the most memorable Nobel Prize winners (in 2012) who, unsurprisingly, are Milton Friedman, Paul Krugman, and Joseph Stiglitz. However, taking Prinz's Table 1 and re-ordering it in reverse order of memorability gives us the most forgotten Nobel Prize winners, being (in order of forgottenness) Thomas Sargent, Dale Mortensen, and Christopher Pissarides:


Sargent is surprising given that, in terms of achievement (as measured in this 2013 paper by Claes and De Ceuster; ungated version here), he is tenth overall. It is sad to see the low memorability (or high forgottenness) ranking of Elinor Ostrom, the only woman ever to win the award (again, in spite of a high achievement ranking). I imagine there's been a few more searches for Schelling and Selten in recent months, which would push them up the memorability (and down the forgottenness) rankings. Finally, it would be interesting (to me at least) to know where some of the short list for next year's award would measure up.

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