The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Economists of all time. This list of famous Economists is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Economists.
With an HPI of 91.46, Adam Smith is the most famous Economist. His biography has been translated into 150 different languages on wikipedia.
Adam Smith (baptized 16 June [O.S. 5 June] 1723 – 17 July 1790) was a Scottish economist and philosopher who was a pioneer of political economy and key figure during the Scottish Enlightenment. Also known as "The Father of Economics" or "The Father of Capitalism", he wrote two classic works, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). The latter, often abbreviated as The Wealth of Nations, is considered his magnum opus and the first modern work of economics. In his work, Smith introduced his theory of absolute advantage.Smith studied social philosophy at the University of Glasgow and at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was one of the first students to benefit from scholarships set up by fellow Scot John Snell. After graduating, he delivered a successful series of public lectures at the University of Edinburgh, leading him to collaborate with David Hume during the Scottish Enlightenment. Smith obtained a professorship at Glasgow, teaching moral philosophy and during this time, wrote and published The Theory of Moral Sentiments. In his later life, he took a tutoring position that allowed him to travel throughout Europe, where he met other intellectual leaders of his day. Smith laid the foundations of classical free market economic theory. The Wealth of Nations was a precursor to the modern academic discipline of economics. In this and other works, he developed the concept of division of labour and expounded upon how rational self-interest and competition can lead to economic prosperity. Smith was controversial in his own day and his general approach and writing style were often satirised by writers such as Horace Walpole.
With an HPI of 81.58, John Maynard Keynes is the 2nd most famous Economist. His biography has been translated into 123 different languages.
John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes, ( KAYNZ; 5 June 1883 – 21 April 1946) was an English economist whose ideas fundamentally changed the theory and practice of macroeconomics and the economic policies of governments. Originally trained in mathematics, he built on and greatly refined earlier work on the causes of business cycles. One of the most influential economists of the 20th century, he produced writings that are the basis for the school of thought known as Keynesian economics, and its various offshoots. His ideas, reformulated as New Keynesianism, are fundamental to mainstream macroeconomics. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Keynes spearheaded a revolution in economic thinking, challenging the ideas of neoclassical economics that held that free markets would, in the short to medium term, automatically provide full employment, as long as workers were flexible in their wage demands. He argued that aggregate demand (total spending in the economy) determined the overall level of economic activity, and that inadequate aggregate demand could lead to prolonged periods of high unemployment, and since wages and labour costs are rigid downwards the economy will not automatically rebound to full employment. Keynes advocated the use of fiscal and monetary policies to mitigate the adverse effects of economic recessions and depressions. He detailed these ideas in his magnum opus, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, published in late 1936. By the late 1930s, leading Western economies had begun adopting Keynes's policy recommendations. Almost all capitalist governments had done so by the end of the two decades following Keynes's death in 1946. As a leader of the British delegation, Keynes participated in the design of the international economic institutions established after the end of World War II but was overruled by the American delegation on several aspects. Keynes's influence started to wane in the 1970s, partly as a result of the stagflation that plagued the Anglo-American economies during that decade, and partly because of criticism of Keynesian policies by Milton Friedman and other monetarists, who disputed the ability of government to favourably regulate the business cycle with fiscal policy. However, the advent of the global financial crisis of 2007–2008 sparked a resurgence in Keynesian thought. Keynesian economics provided the theoretical underpinning for economic policies undertaken in response to the financial crisis of 2007–2008 by President Barack Obama of the United States, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom, and other heads of governments.When Time magazine included Keynes among its Most Important People of the Century in 1999, it stated that "his radical idea that governments should spend money they don't have may have saved capitalism." The Economist has described Keynes as "Britain's most famous 20th-century economist." In addition to being an economist, Keynes was also a civil servant, a director of the Bank of England, and a part of the Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals.
With an HPI of 78.96, David Ricardo is the 3rd most famous Economist. His biography has been translated into 80 different languages.
David Ricardo (18 April 1772 – 11 September 1823) was a British political economist, one of the most influential of the classical economists along with Robert Malthus, Adam Smith and James Mill. He was also a politician, and a member of the Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland.
With an HPI of 78.87, Thomas Robert Malthus is the 4th most famous Economist. His biography has been translated into 84 different languages.
Thomas Robert Malthus (; 13/14 February 1766 – 23 December 1834) was an English cleric, scholar and influential economist in the fields of political economy and demography.In his 1798 book An Essay on the Principle of Population, Malthus observed that an increase in a nation's food production improved the well-being of the population, but the improvement was temporary because it led to population growth, which in turn restored the original per capita production level. In other words, humans had a propensity to utilize abundance for population growth rather than for maintaining a high standard of living, a view that has become known as the "Malthusian trap" or the "Malthusian spectre". Populations had a tendency to grow until the lower class suffered hardship, want and greater susceptibility to famine and disease, a view that is sometimes referred to as a Malthusian catastrophe. Malthus wrote in opposition to the popular view in 18th-century Europe that saw society as improving and in principle as perfectible.Malthus saw population growth as inevitable whenever conditions improved, thereby precluding real progress towards a utopian society: "The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man." As an Anglican cleric, he saw this situation as divinely imposed to teach virtuous behavior. Malthus wrote that "the increase of population is necessarily limited by subsistence," "population does invariably increase when the means of subsistence increase," and "the superior power of population repress by moral restraint, vice, and misery."Malthus criticized the Poor Laws for leading to inflation rather than improving the well-being of the poor. He supported taxes on grain imports (the Corn Laws). His views became influential and controversial across economic, political, social and scientific thought. Pioneers of evolutionary biology read him, notably Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. Malthus' failure to predict the Industrial Revolution was a frequent criticism of his theories.Malthus laid the "...theoretical foundation of the conventional wisdom that has dominated the debate, both scientifically and ideologically, on global hunger and famines for almost two centuries." He remains a much-debated writer.
With an HPI of 78.58, John Stuart Mill is the 5th most famous Economist. His biography has been translated into 89 different languages.
John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 7 May 1873) was an English philosopher, political economist, Member of Parliament (MP) and civil servant. One of the most influential thinkers in the history of classical liberalism, he contributed widely to social theory, political theory, and political economy. Dubbed "the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century", he conceived of liberty as justifying the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state and social control.Mill was a proponent of utilitarianism, an ethical theory developed by his predecessor Jeremy Bentham. He contributed to the investigation of scientific methodology, though his knowledge of the topic was based on the writings of others, notably William Whewell, John Herschel, and Auguste Comte, and research carried out for Mill by Alexander Bain. He engaged in written debate with Whewell.A member of the Liberal Party and author of the early feminist work The Subjection of Women, Mill was also the second Member of Parliament to call for women's suffrage after Henry Hunt in 1832.
With an HPI of 72.50, Alfred Marshall is the 6th most famous Economist. His biography has been translated into 58 different languages.
Alfred Marshall (26 July 1842 – 13 July 1924) was an English economist, and was one of the most influential economists of his time. His book, Principles of Economics (1890), was the dominant economic textbook in England for many years. It brought the ideas of supply and demand, marginal utility, and costs of production into a coherent whole. He is known as one of the founders of neoclassical economics.
With an HPI of 69.62, John Law is the 7th most famous Economist. His biography has been translated into 42 different languages.
John Law (pronounced [lɑs] in French in the traditional approximation of Laws, the colloquial Scottish form of the name; baptised 21 April 1671 – 21 March 1729) was a Scottish economist who distinguished money, a means of exchange, from national wealth dependent on trade. He served as Controller General of Finances under the Duke of Orleans, who was regent for the juvenile Louis XV of France. In 1716, Law set up a private Banque Générale in France. A year later it was nationalised at his request and renamed as Banque Royale. The private bank had been funded mainly by John Law and Louis XV; three-quarters of its capital consisted of government bills and government-accepted notes, effectively making it the nation's first central bank. Backed only partially by silver, it was a fractional reserve bank. Law also set up and directed the Mississippi Company, funded by the Banque Royale. Its chaotic collapse has been compared to the 17th-century tulip mania in Holland. The Mississippi bubble coincided with the South Sea bubble in England, which allegedly took ideas from it. Law as a gambler would win card games by mentally calculating odds. He originated ideas such as the scarcity theory of value and the real bills doctrine. He held that money creation stimulated an economy, paper money was preferable to metal, and dividend-paying shares a superior form of money. The term "millionaire" was coined for beneficiaries of Law's scheme.
With an HPI of 67.84, William Petty is the 8th most famous Economist. His biography has been translated into 41 different languages.
Sir William Petty FRS (26 May 1623 – 16 December 1687) was an English economist, physician, scientist and philosopher. He first became prominent serving Oliver Cromwell and the Commonwealth in Ireland. He developed efficient methods to survey the land that was to be confiscated and given to Cromwell's soldiers. He also remained a significant figure under King Charles II and King James II, as did many others who had served Cromwell. Petty was also a scientist, inventor, and merchant, a charter member of the Royal Society, and briefly a Member of the Parliament of England. However, he is best rememberd for his theories on economics and his methods of political arithmetic. He is attributed with originating the laissez-faire economic philosophy. He was knighted in 1661. He was the great-grandfather of the 1st Marquess of Lansdowne (better known to history as the 2nd Earl of Shelburne), who served as Prime Minister of Great Britain, 1782–1783.
With an HPI of 67.04, Ronald Coase is the 9th most famous Economist. His biography has been translated into 56 different languages.
Ronald Harry Coase (; 29 December 1910 – 2 September 2013) was a British economist and author. He was the Clifton R. Musser Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Law School, where he arrived in 1964 and remained for the rest of his life. He received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1991. Coase believed economists should study real-world wealth creation, in the manner of Adam Smith, stating, "It is suicidal for the field to slide into a hard science of choice, ignoring the influences of society, history, culture, and politics on the working of the economy." He believed economic study should reduce emphasis on price theory or theoretical markets and instead focus on real markets. He established the case for the corporation as a means to pay the costs of operating a marketplace. Coase is best known for two articles: "The Nature of the Firm" (1937), which introduces the concept of transaction costs to explain the nature and limits of firms; and "The Problem of Social Cost" (1960), which suggests that well-defined property rights could overcome the problems of externalities if it were not for transaction costs (see Coase theorem). Additionally, Coase's transaction costs approach is currently influential in modern organizational economics, where it was reintroduced by Oliver E. Williamson.
With an HPI of 66.47, Benjamin Graham is the 10th most famous Economist. His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.
Benjamin Graham (; né Grossbaum; May 9, 1894 – September 21, 1976) was a British-born American economist, professor and investor. He is widely known as the "father of value investing", and wrote two of the founding texts in neoclassical investing: Security Analysis (1934) with David Dodd, and The Intelligent Investor (1949). His investment philosophy stressed investor psychology, minimal debt, buy-and-hold investing, fundamental analysis, concentrated diversification, buying within the margin of safety, activist investing, and contrarian mindsets. After graduating from Columbia University at age 20, he started his career on Wall Street, eventually founding the Graham-Newman Partnership. After employing his former student Warren Buffett, he took up teaching positions at his alma mater, and later at UCLA Anderson School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles. His work in managerial economics and investing has led to a modern wave of value investing within mutual funds, hedge funds, diversified holding companies, and other investment vehicles. Throughout his career, Graham had many notable disciples who went on to receive substantial success in the world of investment, including Irving Kahn and Warren Buffett, the latter going on to describe him as the second most influential person in his life after his own father. Another one of Graham's famous students was Sir John Templeton.
Pantheon has 44 people classified as economists born between 1571 and 1969. Of these 44, 5 (11.36%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living economists include Angus Deaton, Oliver Hart, and Israel Kirzner. The most famous deceased economists include Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, and David Ricardo. As of April 2022, 6 new economists have been added to Pantheon including Colin Clark, Antony C. Sutton, and John Neville Keynes.
1723 - 1790
1883 - 1946
1772 - 1823
1766 - 1834
1806 - 1873
1842 - 1924
1671 - 1729
1623 - 1687
1910 - 2013
1894 - 1976
1904 - 1989
1835 - 1882
Which Economists were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Economists since 1700.