Defining Excellence: Seventy Years of the John Bates Clark Medal
Forthcoming in the Journal for the History of Economic Thought
37 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2017 Last revised: 25 Oct 2020
Date Written: May 9, 2019
Before the John Bates Clark Medal (JBCM) has become a widely acknowledged professional and public marker of excellence in economics research, in the first twenty years since its inception more than seventy years ago in 1947 it was almost discontinued three times and once even not conferred. These controversies derived from the fact that Medal was originally established to showcase the expertise of economists to other scientists, policy makers, and the wider public. While earlier awards were given to theorists, in later years empirical and policy-oriented economists gained ground reflecting how such research became more prestigious in economics. Based on a quantitative analysis of the forty Medalists so-far, we show that this empirical shift was concomitant with a decrease in the diversity and an increase in concentration of laureates: twenty-four or twenty-five out of forty awardees received their PhD degree or worked at Harvard, MIT, and Chicago at the time of being awarded respectively.
Keywords: John Bates Clark Medal, Award, Excellence, Diversity, Merit, Privilege, Theory, Applied, American Economic Association
JEL Classification: B20, B30, C00, A10, A11, A14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation