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The Impact of Nobel Prize Winners in Economics: Mainline vs. Mainstream


  • We thank Thomas Hogan, Randy Holcombe, Daniel Klein, Peter Leeson, Douglas Rogers, David Skarbek, Daniel Sutter, the participants of the Documenting the Contribution of Dissident Scholars Panel at the Southern Economic Association 2011 Annual Conference, and an anonymous referee for comments on earlier versions of this paper. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. We also thank Danny Klöser for his valuable research assistance.


We assess the impact of two groups of economists: mainline economists, who regard economics primarily as the science of exchange and mainstream economists, who perceive economics primarily as the science of choice. To control for scholarly quality we investigate the citation impact of Nobel Prize winning economists, who we break up into the two groups, mainline and mainstream. We find that over the period from 1970 to 2007 mainline economists had more of an impact than mainstream economists.