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Economist-centrism

Steven Levitt writes of Time Magazine’s list of the 100 people who “shape our world,” that one year they included him but that, in his opinion, “Economists have not figured very prominently on the previous lists; there has been roughly one economist in the top 100 per year.”

One per hundred seems pretty good to me, considering that economists represent only 0.1% of the employed population in the United States!

I guess the real moral of the story is that, whatever people have, they will consider it as a baseline and then want more.

P.S. Of course I’m happy that Nate is ranked in the top 200, but, no, he’s not an economist. He’s a sabermetrician, or, if you want to use a more general term, “statistician.” If you call someone an economist just because he majored in economics in college, then I’m a physicist.

4 Comments

  1. Brutha says:

    Interesting is that the guy that you labeled as more or less a random reader of Seth Roberts blog makes place 129 on the times list at the moment.

    The list with moot and Rain on top is simply a bit hilarious.

  2. Is the US employed population really the correct denominator to think about here? It seems unlikely that a "people who shape our world" list-maker would consider all employed workers to be the eligible population for this list. Given their over-representation in positions of influence, economists may be under-represented in this list.

  3. Michael Bishop says:

    I second Sean's point.

    Bernanke, Geithner, and Summers, are all among the 100 people most powerfully shaping our world (in the U.S.).

    There are two questions here:
    Who is shaping the world?
    Who do we feel should be shaping the world?

    I'd love to hear Andrew's answers.

  4. Andrew Gelman says:

    I don't know. Maybe the list should include more economists; maybe it should include the Israeli prime minister and other people who have their fingers on the nuclear button; maybe it should include some cancer researchers; etc. I just thought it was funny that, to Levitt, one in a hundred is "not very prominently." Maybe the economists should have more, but one in a hundred is a lot.