Ireland’s economy may not be doing so well, but Ireland’s economists are. Karl Whelan is the latest entry in the IDEAS/RePEc Global Top 1000 of Economists. With Karl, there are now 8 Ireland-based economists in the Top 1000. That is 0.8%. The population of Ireland is less than 0.1% of the world population, about 0.3% of the population of developing countries, and about 0.4% of the population of high income countries. So, we’re punching above our weight.

22 replies on “Competitiveness”

Congrats to Karl W.

Found this list of the top Irish economists at the same site: – the premiership of Irish economics. Philip Lane is the Man United, but those near the bottom are in danger of relegation..

Is the list a reflection of production or quality?

The ranking is based on a mix of indicators for production (read: number of papers, with various corrections for status), influence (read: number of citations, with various corrections for status), and popularity (read: number of downloads). Quality/influence has the largest weight in the mix.

The Ireland only ranking is also corrected for presence, but badly proxied.

Not sure that Philip would want to be seen to be sponsored by AIG.

Richard, currently sponsored by, a gaming company. Would Mr Cruyff approve?

While it is good that Irish economists appear in these rankings, how important is a measure based on reading and writing ie. publications and citations presumably by other economists? We Irish are good at that kind of word-smithing and not so good at other equally important activities. We have more Nobel Prizes for Literature than for any other category.
As an example of what ouor culture values, note TCD named their Genetics building after a cardboard box manufacturer (Smurfit – who gave less money for that building than the State/taxpayers), but not after the Noble prize-winning physicist (Schrodinger) who gave a key set of lectures hugely influential in the development of biotechnology in TCD.
Despite all the writing prowess of economists, they have had little influence in policy-formulation and implementation here. If they had, would Colm McCarthy be heading yet another Public Expenditure Review Group less than 30 years after his first effort?


Academic economics will reward breakthroughs in the measurement of heteroskedasticity or structural breaks in data faster than acknowledging the importance of Colm’s red pen or Karl’s op-eds.

Colm McCarthy may be the most useful man in Ireland right now, but he’s not going to win the Nobel any time soon. This is because of the distinction between economic “science” and economic policy. The RePEc/IDEAS rankings focus almost entirely on the former.

I had 35 lecturers over 6 years in UCC.

Most of them were cures for insomnia.

One of the interesting ones, later left to become a judge while an economics lecturer had told me that he had given up on the subject years before.

Listening to him drone on about elasticity was interesting indeed.

Lest the economists get discouraged, I repeat what I have put forward here and elsewhere – the economics profession deserve our thanks, as citizens, for the simple reason that they are making the effort to inform us of options facing us, showing us what is being done elsewhere and taking to the other media to make their views known. With this forum, they have given us the means to particpate in their conversations and discussions. Long may they continue to do so!

We should also note that a number of them have sought political power by standing in elections eg. John O’Donovan, Garret FitzGerald, Alan Dukes, Eithne FitzGerald, Richard Bruton, Pat Cox and now George Lee. So the profession is more than wordsmiths seeking citations!

To revert to the listings which prompted my “flame!, how many Chilean or Norwegian economists feature in the list, given the reference to these countries in posts here? How do they rank compared to our group?

Has anyone looked at the correlation, if it exists, between national ranking in “Top Economists” and national economic performance?

Overall, Ireland ranks 34th, Norway 35th, and Chile 49th. See:

The IDEAS/RePEc ranking is a measure of academic quality only. While top academics are not necessarily interested in or good at policy advice, having really smart peers around does improve the quality of the work to those who do advice policy.

For instance, knowing that Karl and Patrick may be looking over my shoulder, I keep my mouth shut on banks — and the debate is better informed as a result.

8 out of 1000! Impressive I nearly choked on my laptop!Well not really three points.1 Ireland ranks high in the cultural wordsmithing stakes and traditional ties with American Academia will breed the types to fill such loaded imbalanced lists.2 population comparisons are ridiculous for obvious reasons;3 IRELAND AS A COUNTRY in terms of economic state funded and quality in Economic fields is well down the list before such other ahem,? “states”, as Rhode Island and that powerhouse of Genius “Indiana!”4 in this these rankings reflect the cultural Loading involved and confirm the traditional strengths of Irish intelligentsia,namely high literate cultural levels,or to put it in the language of semi literate people “wordsmithing” plus Academic tradition in the humanitys.A ranking for Ireland in the hard or real science areas would be modest enough and though we produce good scientific brains, we are nothing special and in terms of the Irish states commitment to science AND RESEARCH well down that particular table for an economically advanced european country.The real thing this nonsense reveals is that Economics is a social humanitys science with a very small s and more a branch of presentist history with a few charts and graphs thrown in,!

If top economists were randomly spread over the (high income) countries in the world, you would expect 1 (4) Irish entry (entries) in the top 1000, so 8 is a good score.

Rhode Island has Brown, Indiana has Notre Dame and Purdue — respectable universities by all means.

Patrick O Neil is not ranked, by the way.

But its not randomly spread,thats what loading means,Its culturally biased towards a country like Ireland with a high academic tradition in the humanitys social science “wordsmithing” area.World population was mentioned as well,we might ask the people of Darfur and the Amazon delta and their huge masses their views on not producing more on the list in comparison to the little green powerhouse of economists!Ireland may indeed be hiiting little above its weight but its not significant when all factors are taken into account as I have outlined,and anyway it reflects the cultural and economic expansionist HEGEMONY of the United states across the science economics and industrial interface.Finally the descent into personal attacks only confirms the lack of hard intellectual basis behind these so called rankings and the simplistic views of people who defend them such as Richard tol,Nobel laureate

Ireland has always done well despite its small population, but heres the crucial point ONLY in certain areas!traditional strengths are reaffirmed rather than new areas opened up, For example compared to its population Ireland is a great rugby nation,but as for yachting were in the sink,but it does make the point that when were good at something we tend to reaffirm it.In terms of intellectual matters we excell in the literary,humanitys,cultural areas,In the hard science mathematics fields were are average for a developed european state.Maths and science are devalued at second level and irish boys in particular are now worse at maths than their european counterparts,Despite all this nonsense about “THE INTELLIGENT ECONOMY” The french and germans are way out ahead The rise in status of Irish economists reflects not a growth in scientific or economic genius amongst the irish population but a reaffirmation of traditional strengths, and that in a way is a good thing but the fact that A handfull of Irish economists make a long list of rankings is no big deal and Richard Tol opinions likewise

When Richard toll can disprove any of the central tenents of my argument and refrain from silly and childish attacks which he instigated in saying That Patrick O Neill was not on the list,I will get back to him,otherwise his small mans bitter rant indicates his lack of faith in his discipline and his overall lack of manners

I would argue that a small nation should specialise rather than try to be good at everything — and graduates of economics and business tend to well rewarded.

Economics is not a traditional strength of Ireland, by the way. Geary and Petty (and that’s stretching Irishness) are the only two that left a lasting impression on the discipline.

If there is such an overweight of world class economic thinking, why has Irish policy been so dire over time??

Comments are closed.