Agents as Empirical Macroeconomists: Thomas J. Sargent's Contribution to Economics

27 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2012

See all articles by Harald Uhlig

Harald Uhlig

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

Date Written: December 2012


Thomas J. Sargent has fundamentally changed and, in the words of Art Rolnick, who interviewed him in 2010, “irrevocably transformed” the field of macroeconomics - whether as sole author, as co‐author with collaborators, as an author influenced by others, or as a teacher of the profession, influencing others. This paper is about his contribution to our field. The Nobel Memorial prize to Thomas J. Sargent and Christopher A. Sims has been awarded for the “empirical research on cause and effect in the macroeconomy” or, more broadly, for macroeconometrics. One often likes to distinguish between theorists, on the one hand, and empiricists and econometricians, on the other. Thomas J. Sargent holds a unique position in between. A key theme in a large part of his work has been to put the agents in his model on equal footing with the econometrician who is observing data from the model (i.e., to assume that agents are themselves empirical macroeconomists or macroeconometricians). In this paper, I use this theme to examine his work and his contributions to the study of economics.

Keywords: Learning, macroeconometrics, macroeconomics, monetary economics, Nobel laureates, rational expectations, Thomas J. Sargent

JEL Classification: B31, C11, C32, C51, D83, D84, E0, E43, E52

Suggested Citation

Uhlig, Harald, Agents as Empirical Macroeconomists: Thomas J. Sargent's Contribution to Economics (December 2012). The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Vol. 114, Issue 4, pp. 1055-1081, 2012, Available at SSRN: or

Harald Uhlig (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics