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On the Ideological Migration of the Economics Laureates


  • David Colander


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.

Suggested Citation

  • David Colander, 2013. "On the Ideological Migration of the Economics Laureates," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 10(3), pages 240-254, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:ejw:journl:v:10:y:2013:i:3:p:240-254

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John B. Davis & D. Wade Hands (ed.), 2011. "The Elgar Companion to Recent Economic Methodology," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 13684.
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    More about this item


    Classical liberalism; economists; Nobel Prize in economics; ideology; ideological migration;

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • B2 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925
    • B3 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals


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