List and Levitt Named Among Leading Behavioral Economists

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While using insights about human nature to explain economic behavior is as old as the field itself, the sub-discipline of behavioral economics – intersecting classical economic theory with personality and social psychology – is a much more recent phenomenon that has fundamentally changed the way we study economics and human behavior in general. recently named the world’s Top 25 Behavioral Economists, including among them two members of our department: Steve Levitt and John A. List.

[They] are doing some of the most innovative, exciting, and potentially useful intellectual work going on anywhere today…behavioral economists give us insight into how other people—and we ourselves—work that we just can't get from either traditional psychologists or economists alone.

John A. List, the Kenneth C. Griffin Distinguished Service Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago, is renowned for his pioneering use of field experiments as a methodology for learning about behavioral principles across different domains. List received the 2010 Kenneth Galbraith Award and the 2008 Arrow Prize for Senior Economists for his research in behavioral economics in the field. The extensive repository of data List has collected provides ongoing insight into discrimination and wage gaps, education incentives, pricing behavior, valuation of non-marketed goods and services, provision of public goods, and charitable giving. Recently he launched the TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health, a joint venture between the University of Chicago’s Biological Sciences and Social Science Divisions that develops and scales evidence-based interventions that help parents and caregivers optimize foundational brain development in children birth to age five, particularly those born into poverty.

Steve Levitt is the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, where he directs the Becker Friedman Institute's Price Theory Initiative. In 2004, Levitt was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal, and in 2006, was named one of Time magazine's “100 People Who Shape Our World.” Levitt co-authored the New York Times Best Seller Freakonomics and its sequel, SuperFreakonomics, featuring new research on topics from terrorism to prostitution to global warming. He also the co-author of the popular Freakonomics Blog.

Of the ranking, James Barham, president and general editor of, states "These people are doing some of the most innovative, exciting, and potentially useful intellectual work going on anywhere today…[they] give us insight into how other people—and we ourselves—work that we just can't get from either traditional psychologists or economists alone." Read the full story here.

Uhlig Appointed Ritzenthaler Chair

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The Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics is pleased to announce that Professor Harald Uhlig has been appointed the inaugural Bruce Allen and Barbara Ritzenthaler Chair in Economics at the University of Chicago. Prof. Uhlig served as Department Chair from 2009 to 2012, and currently serves as Head Editor of the Journal of Political Economy. His research interests include applied quantitative theory and applied dynamic, stochastic general equilibrium theory; the intersection of macroeconomics and financial economics, as well as Bayesian time series analysis and macroeconomic applications. He will assume the Ritzenthaler Chair on July 1st.

JPE to Publish Gary Becker's “A Theory of Intergenerational Mobility”


An important new work from Gary Becker will be released in the near future, more than four years after the death of the Nobel Prize-winning economist, noted as “the most important social scientist in the past 50 years” by the New York Times.  The timely subject matter of “A Theory of Intergenerational Mobility” "ties together major threads of [his] scholarship about the family and the role of the household in economic production," according to Becker's University of Chicago colleague, Kevin Murphy. Scott Duke Kominers, a Harvard Business School professor who is a co-author, said Becker was working on the paper in the years leading up to his death, along with Murphy and Jörg Spenkuch of Northwestern University. As a recent Quartz article describes,

The paper helps explain the persistence of inequality, and why it can be so hard for lower-income families to move into the upper ranks of wealth. At the heart of the argument is the idea the rich parents can offer their children more advantages, and those advantages endure for generation after generation, defying the normal expectation that they eventually erode. In the way that poor families can be trapped in poverty due to what economists call neighborhood effects—the external factors such as crime and lack of access to high-quality education and healthcare—wealth accumulates in rich families because of professional connections, legacy admissions at colleges, and countless other factors that ease the affluent through life.

The Journal of Political Economy will publish the posthumous work in an upcoming issue.

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