Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

On the Ideological Migration of the Economics Laureates


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This article is a reflection on the question of whether economists have a tendency to become more classical liberal as they age. It was written in my “overseer role” on a project led by Daniel Klein on the ideological migration of the 71 individuals awarded the Nobel Prize in economic sciences through 2012. I find that, given his definitions, Klein’s conclusion that, over the course of their career there was a slight movement of Nobel Prize winners in economics to become more classical liberal, is a reasonable one, and that his project was carried out with appropriate openness about his ideological orientation and the motivations behind the project. But I argue that there are several possible explanations for that movement, and also that alternate definitions of ‘classical liberal’ could have led to different conclusions. Specifically, I suggest that classical liberalism can be thought of as connected less with certain political views, and more with a methodological approach to the art and science of economics.