American Economic Review’s Top 20 of the Last 100 Years

Josh Wright —  9 February 2011

The paper is here (HT: Steve Salop).  The AER’s The Top 20 Committee, consisting of Kenneth J. Arrow, B. Douglas Bernheim, Martin S. Feldstein, Daniel L. McFadden, James M. Poterba, and Robert M. Solow, made the selections.  The list is alphabetical, of course, but TOTM readers will observe that it starts off particularly well (see here and here).   A few interesting things jump out, e.g. the multiple appearances from Peter Diamond (and James Mirrlees).  Any big errors or omissions?

Here’s the list:

Alchian, Armen A., and Harold Demsetz. 1972. “Production, Information Costs, and Economic Organization.” American Economic Review, 62(5): 777–95.

Arrow, Kenneth J. 1963. “Uncertainty and the Welfare Economics of Medical Care.” American Economic Review, 53(5): 941–73.

Cobb, Charles W., and Paul H. Douglas. 1928. “A Theory of Production.” American Economic Review, 18(1): 139–65.

Deaton, Angus S., and John Muellbauer. 1980. “An Almost Ideal Demand System.” American Economic Review, 70(3): 312–26.

Diamond, Peter A. 1965. “National Debt in a Neoclassical Growth Model.” American Economic
Review, 55(5): 1126–50.

Diamond, Peter A., and James A. Mirrlees. 1971. “Optimal Taxation and Public Production I: Production Efficiency.” American Economic Review, 61(1): 8–27.

Diamond, Peter A., and James A. Mirrlees. 1971. “Optimal Taxation and Public Production II: Tax
Rules.” American Economic Review, 61(3): 261–78.

Dixit, Avinash K., and Joseph E. Stiglitz. 1977. “Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product
Diversity.” American Economic Review, 67(3): 297–308.

Friedman, Milton. 1968. “The Role of Monetary Policy.” American Economic Review, 58(1): 1–17.

Grossman, Sanford J., and Joseph E. Stiglitz. 1980. “On the Impossibility of Informationally Efficient Markets.” American Economic Review, 70(3): 393–408.

Harris, John R., and Michael P. Todaro. 1970. “Migration, Unemployment and Development: A Two-Sector Analysis.” American Economic Review, 60(1): 126–42.

Hayek, F. A. 1945. “The Use of Knowledge in Society.” American Economic Review, 35(4): 519–30.

Jorgenson, Dale W. 1963. “Capital Theory and Investment Behavior.” American Economic Review, 53(2): 247–59.

Krueger, Anne O. 1974. “The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society.” American Economic
Review, 64(3): 291–303.

Krugman, Paul. 1980. “Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade.” American Economic Review, 70(5): 950–59.

Kuznets, Simon. 1955. “Economic Growth and Income Inequality.” American Economic Review,
45(1): 1–28.

Lucas, Robert E., Jr. 1973. “Some International Evidence on Output-Inflation Tradeoffs.” American Economic Review, 63(3): 326–34.

Modigliani, Franco, and Merton H. Miller. 1958. “The Cost of Capital, Corporation Finance and the
Theory of Investment.” American Economic Review, 48(3): 261–97.

Mundell, Robert A. 1961. “A Theory of Optimum Currency Areas.” American Economic Review,
51(4): 657–65.

Ross, Stephen A. 1973. “The Economic Theory of Agency: The Principal’s Problem.” American Economic Review, 63(2): 134–39.

Shiller, Robert J. 1981. “Do Stock Prices Move Too Much to Be Justified by Subsequent Changes in
Dividends?” American Economic Review, 71(3): 421–36.

3 responses to American Economic Review’s Top 20 of the Last 100 Years


    Stiglitz makes it twice too, I think appropriately.

    I’m surprised that the most current paper is from 1981 (Shiller, Do Stock Prices Move …). The importance of particular ideas may take some time to be recognized, but it is striking to me that no paper published in the AER in the last thirty years made the top 20.

    I’d add something from William Vickrey on Congestion Pricing, e.g., Pricing in Urban and Suburban Transport, AER 52(2), 1963 (available here: The paper seems very simple now, but implementation of his basic idea on a large scale could have significant positive welfare effects.

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