100 Years of the American Economic Review: The Top 20 Articles

It has been noticed by many already, but I thought I would “advertise” this Top 20 as well. In celebration of the 100 year anniversary of one of the economics profession’s top journals, a group of seasoned economists was asked to pick 20 of the best articles published so far in the American Economic Review. Most choices feel sort of self-evident and unavoidable when you see the list, and the group also notes that they quickly converged on 15 articles. The oldest paper is from 1928 (the birth of the Cobb-Douglas production function), and the youngest is from 1981 (Shiller’s paper on stock-price volatility). It is interesting that more than half of the papers are published between 1968 and 1981. Maybe these years were the heydays of many of the members of the selection group? I don’t know, and probably one should not put too much emphasis on it. After all it is just a list, which may give you the urge to look a few of the papers up for a first read or a re-read.

This is indeed easy to do since The American Economic Association has made publicly available the paper motivating the Top 20. From the pdf of the paper, one can access each of the Top 20 articles in full text. The link to the AEA site is here. Happy reading!

The Top 20:

  1. Alchian, Armen A., and Harold Demsetz. 1972. “Production, Information Costs, and Economic Organization.”
  2. Arrow, Kenneth J. 1963. “Uncertainty and the Welfare Economics of Medical Care.”
  3. Cobb, Charles W., and Paul H. Douglas. 1928. “A Theory of Production.”
  4. Deaton, Angus S., and John Muellbauer. 1980. “An Almost Ideal Demand System.”
  5. Diamond, Peter A. 1965. “National Debt in a Neoclassical Growth Model.”
  6. Diamond, Peter A., and James A. Mirrlees. 1971. “Optimal Taxation and Public Production I: Production Efficiency.”
    “Optimal Taxation and Public Production II: Tax Rules.”
  7. Dixit, Avinash K., and Joseph E. Stiglitz. 1977. “Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity.”
  8. Friedman, Milton. 1968. “The Role of Monetary Policy.”
  9. Grossman, Sanford J., and Joseph E. Stiglitz. 1980. “On the Impossibility of Informationally Efficient Markets.”
  10. Harris, John R., and Michael P. Todaro. 1970. “Migration, Unemployment and Development: A Two-Sector Analysis.”
  11. Hayek, F. A. 1945. “The Use of Knowledge in Society.”
  12. Jorgenson, Dale W. 1963. “Capital Theory and Investment Behavior.”
  13. Krueger, Anne O. 1974. “The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society.”
  14. Krugman, Paul. 1980. “Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade.”
  15. Kuznets, Simon. 1955. “Economic Growth and Income Inequality.”
  16. Lucas, Robert E., Jr. 1973. “Some International Evidence on Output-Inflation Tradeoffs.”
  17. Modigliani, Franco, and Merton H. Miller. 1958. “The Cost of Capital, Corporation Finance and the Theory of Investment.”
  18. Mundell, Robert A. 1961. “A Theory of Optimum Currency Areas.”
  19. Ross, Stephen A. 1973. “The Economic Theory of Agency: The Principal’s Problem.”
  20. Shiller, Robert J. 1981. “Do Stock Prices Move Too Much to Be Justified by Subsequent Changes in Dividends?”
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