What are the most insightful economics articles?
Apr 6, 2010
2 minute read

Which economics articles teach us the most about how to think about the world? Over the next few weeks, I plan to write about the articles that I think belong in this group. I am hoping that some readers will want to follow along and discuss the articles in the comments.

Here is what I propose. I will select an article and give anyone who wishes to some time to read it (optional). A few days later, I will write a post in which I give a framing summary and explanation of the article, and perhaps some questions for discussion. I will conclude each post with a link to the next article on the list.

I am shooting for ten articles. I haven’t fully decided on the list yet; suggestions, especially from my economics colleagues, are welcome. I will try to go in chronological order by publication date, though because I have not yet decided on the full list, there may be a little backtracking. The articles I am interested in are not necessarily those with the most citations or the ones that have had the most influence on the profession. I assume no one is interested in Heckman selection. I am looking for articles that provide the greatest insight into the world we live in.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, I encourage you to participate. I only ask that you keep the discussion in the comments civil and on topic. If you want to be uncivil, you can always post on your own blog about what an idiot I am. And of course feel free to pass this link around to other people who might be interested.

I will aim the discussion to be at the level of an intelligent and educated general reader with no prior background in economics (trained economists are of course welcome to participate as well). My hope is that this exercise will be helpful to many of you. I believe that studying and discussing these articles is a way to get a lot smarter very quickly. I also hope that by blogging about them, I will organize my own thoughts about them and their importance.

The first article in the series will be Ronald Coase’s 1937 article The Nature of the Firm. See you in a couple days.