Richard Blundell, Ian Preston, 25 January 2019

Sir James Mirrlees, co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, passed away in August 2018. This column outlines how his work has transformed economists’ understanding of their discipline – from the principles of tax design to the theory of contracts and beyond. By conceiving of policy questions in terms of information asymmetries between governments and taxpayers, Mirrlees demonstrated how to conduct convincing analysis of redistributive objectives together with incentive effects in the design of general tax systems and public policy more broadly. His ability to simplify complex problems in ways that reveal their tractable essence means that his work has yielded insights that have reverberated throughout the discipline. It has also proved highly fruitful for practical policy design.

Ruchir Agarwal, Patrick Gaulé, 23 December 2018

Exceptional mathematics talents generate breakthroughs that move the entire field forward. This column explores how the talent of exceptional mathematics students from several countries affects their outcomes and contributions to the field. Small differences in talent during adolescence are associated with sizeable differences in long-term achievements, from getting a PhD to receiving a Fields medal. The research highlights the social losses associated with the lack of opportunities available to students in low-income countries.

Bruno S. Frey, 20 December 2018

China's GNP is close to, or larger than, that of the US and the per-capita income gap between the countries is closing. Despite this, Chinese economists are absent from the rankings of top academic economists and none has received the Nobel Prize in Economics. This column offers several potential reasons for this, and also argues that the situation is likely to change in the future. Young scholars in particular may be well advised to take this into account, as their careers are likely to benefit if they link up to the Chinese academic market.

Chad Jones, 12 October 2018

Paul Romer of New York University has been jointly awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences with William Nordhaus ‘for integrating technological innovations into long-run macroeconomic analysis’. This column explains his key insights and their wide-ranging implications for our understanding of the process of economic growth.

Kevin Bryan, 11 October 2018

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences has been awarded jointly to William Nordhaus for ‘integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis’, and to Paul Romer for ‘integrating technological innovations into long-run macroeconomic analysis’. This column outlines their work and the connections between them. Both have at their core the longstanding problem of economic growth: why are some places and times rich and others poor, and what is the impact of these differences?

Richard Tol, 29 April 2018

The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences remains the most prestigious award in the field. This column uses novel data to map the academic genealogy of laureates in economics. Results show that Nobelists are connected, falling into four disjoint graphs, with new winners often being closely related to previous winners. Among a pool of likely candidates for future prizes, more than half trained under a laureate.

Alessandro Iaria, Carlo Schwarz, Fabian Waldinger, 26 January 2018

Access to existing knowledge fuels basic scientific progress and is key to the development of new technologies. This column studies how the decline in scientific cooperation that occurred during and after WWI affected science and innovation. The interruption of international knowledge flows led to stark declines in both the volume and quality of scientific production. This points to the merits of opening up access to scientific journals and of discerning what constitutes frontier research.

Hersh Shefrin, 12 October 2017

Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago has been awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences “for his contributions to behavioural economics”. This column, written by his first behavioural collaborator, provides a personal perspective on the development of three key areas of research to which the new laureate has been a major contributor: people’s limited rationality, their perceptions about fairness, and their lack of self-control.

Kevin Bryan, 01 November 2016

Oliver Hart has been jointly awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences with Bengt Holmström “for their contributions to contract theory”. This column outlines his contributions to our understanding of the nature of the firm.

Maija Halonen-Akatwijuka, 29 October 2016

Oliver Hart has been jointly awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences with Bengt Holmström "for their contributions to contract theory". This column discusses his contributions, focusing particularly on incomplete contracts.

Kevin Bryan, 23 October 2016

Bengt Holmström has been jointly awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences with Oliver Hart “for their contributions to contract theory”. This column outlines his key contributions.

Pierre Régibeau, Katharine Rockett, 13 October 2016

Systematic assessments of the research performance of academic institutions are increasingly common around the world. A key question for the design of such systems is whether and how bibliometrics should be incorporated. This column argues that bibliometrics can perform well at identifying quality in some fields, while providing cost-effective and transparent review. Peer review is found to be no guarantor of quality, though it may be essential in the evaluation of certain fields.

Philippe Aghion, 19 January 2015

Jean Tirole’s Nobel was for his transformative work on industrial organisation. In this Vox Talk Philippe Aghion talks about Tirole’s contribution. The interview was recorded in November 2014.

Tarun Ramadorai, 24 October 2013

The 2013 Nobel laureates’ work has greatly improved our understanding of asset markets. Their blend of rigorous statistical analysis, economic theory, and respect for ‘market wisdom’ has provided a huge impetus to the field of empirical asset pricing – one of the most important and active areas of economics research. The insights gained in this field have important real-world implications, helping individuals to make better investment decisions and policymakers to design more appropriate financial regulations.

Marianne Andries, Bruno Biais, 21 October 2013

The 2013 Nobel Prize in economics goes to Lars Hansen, Eugene Fama, and Robert Shiller. This column describes the significance of their contributions in the context of the broader literature. The prizes are well deserved. Their careful investigation of data – informed by deep understanding of theory – taught us much of what we know about asset pricing.

Toshiaki Watanabe, 29 November 2011

In October 2011, Christopher Sims of Princeton University shared the Nobel Prize for economics with Thomas Sargent of New York University “for their empirical research on cause and effect in the macroeconomy”. This column by one of Professor Sims’ former students – now a distinguished professor – discusses the importance of his work.

Ramon Marimon, 16 October 2011

The 2011 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences has been awarded to Thomas Sargent and Christopher Sims. This column summarises the importance of their contributions to macroeconomic analysis and policymaking.

Barbara Petrongolo, 15 October 2010

The 2010 Nobel Prize in Economics has been awarded to Peter Diamond, Dale Mortensen, and Christopher Pissarides "for their analysis of markets with search frictions". This column explains how their research relates to fundamental economic issues that are both at the core of the wellbeing of society at large and now near the top of many policymakers’ agendas.

Jota Ishikawa, 31 January 2009

This column reflects on the Nobel Prize awarded to Paul Krugman, whose solo win surprised some. It comments on the relevance of Krugman’s contributions to new trade theory and new economic geography. The latter have been of particular interest to European economists.

Avinash Dixit, 17 October 2008

Krugman the columnist offers strong views, attracting adulation and hatred. His newspaper-reading fans delight in his Nobel Prize; his foes are shocked and dismayed. Both are mistaken. His prize has nothing to do with his popular writing. Here one of the world’s most influential theorists explains that the prize celebrates Krugman’s achievements in science, not in the policy arena. This column clarifies exactly what those achievements are.

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