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Top graduate programmes in economics: Historical evolution and recent evidence

John O’Hagan

Kyklos, 2021, vol. 74, issue 3, 378-395

Abstract: The first part of the paper provides a novel overview narrative of the historical evolution of PhD programmes in economics from 1880, drawing on multiple sources. The second part is empirical, and, also novel in terms of the data constructed. It attempts to bring the narrative up to date by looking at the cohorts of winners of the main young economist awards in economics in the US and Europe over the last twenty years or so and to chart at which universities they obtained their doctorates and undergraduate degrees. The total number of young (at the time of the award) economists so involved exceeds 350. The evolution of the American‐style PhD programme of today is traced to the emigration of European economists to the US from Nazi‐occupied Europe in the 1930s, and its subsequent spread first to Britain and then Continental Europe documented. What is new in the last twenty years or so is the emergence of many Top‐50 economics departments in Europe, with corresponding highly regarded PhD programmes. However, in relation to the recent elite young award‐winning economists the position in terms of PhD education of Harvard and MIT particularly remains largely unchallenged, in both the US and Europe.

Date: 2021
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