List of important publications in economics

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This is a list of important publications in economics, organized by field.


Some reasons why a particular publication might be regarded as important:

Political economy and economics

The Wealth of Nations

Description: The book is usually considered to be the beginning of modern economics. [1] :15 [2] :45 It begins with a discussion of the Industrial Revolution. Later it critiques the mercantilism and a synthesis of the emerging economic thinking of his time. It is best known for the idea of the invisible hand, although this idea is only mentioned once in the book. [1] :43,47 Smith was critical of the "vile maxim" of the "masters of mankind", all for themselves and nothing for other people. The Butcher, the Baker, and the Brewer provide goods and services to each other out of self-interest; the unplanned result of this division of labor is a better standard of living for all three. [2] :48

Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough, Influence, Introduction

Principles of Political Economy and Taxation

Description: Elaborates, clarifies and corrects previous theories, and adds important new concepts

Importance: Breakthrough, influence (esp on Marx), broadened scientific foundations of economics

Das Kapital

Description: A political-economic treatise by Karl Marx. Marx wrote this critical analysis of capitalism and of the political economy from the perspective of historical materialism, the view that history can be understood as a sequence of modes of production in which exploiting classes extract an economic surplus from exploited classes.

Importance: Breakthrough, Influence

Progress and Poverty

Description: Describes how poverty in the midst of plenty results from unequal rights to use natural resources, and declining wages in the face of increasing labor productivity results from the Law of Rent. Advocated Georgism, specifically a land value tax.

Importance: Influence, Breakthrough...

Principles of Economics (Menger)

Influence: Credited with co-founding of marginal utility analysis and the Austrian School of economics.

Principles of Economics (Marshall)

Influence: Standard text for generations of economics students.


Importance:: Influential multi-level, best-selling principles textbook that popularized neoclassical synthesis of Keynesian economics and neoclassical economics.


Value and Capital

Description: See Importance.

Importance: The book built on ordinal utility and mainstreamed the now-standard distinction between the substitution effect and the income effect for an individual in demand theory in the 2-good case. It generalized analysis to the case of one good and all other goods, that is, the composite good . It aggregated individuals and businesses through demand and supply across the economy. It anticipated the aggregation problem, most acutely for the stock of capital goods. It introduced general equilibrium theory to an English-speaking audience, refined the theory, and for the first time attempted a rigorous statement of stability conditions for general equilibrium.


Among the most important list of publication in macroeconomics are:

General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money

Description: In this book, Keynes put forward a theory based upon the notion of aggregate demand to explain variations in the overall level of economic activity, such as were observed in the Great Depression. The total income in a society is defined by the sum of consumption and investment; and in a state of unemployment and unused production capacity, one can only enhance employment and total income by first increasing expenditures for either consumption or investment.

Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough, Influence

A Monetary History of the United States

Description: Friedman and Schwartz used changes in monetary aggregates to explain business cycle fluctuations in the United States economy.

Importance: Influence

Game theory

Theory of Games and Economic Behavior

Description: The book by the mathematician John von Neumann and economist Oskar Morgenstern. It contained a mathematical theory of economic and social organization, based on a theory of games of strategy.

This is now a classic work, upon which modern-day game theory is based. Game theory has since been widely used to analyze real-world phenomena from arms races to optimal policy choices of presidential candidates, from vaccination policy to major league baseball salary negotiations. It is today established, both throughout the social sciences and in a wide range of other sciences.

Importance: Topic creator, Influence

Mathematical economics

Foundations of Economic Analysis

The book showed how operationally meaningful theorems can be described with a small number of analogous methods, thus providing "a general theory of economic theories." It moved mathematics out of the appendices (as in John R. Hicks's Value and Capital) and helped change how standard economic analysis across subjects could be done with the same mathematical methods.

Importance and Influence: Accelerated change in standard methods


A New Framework for Testing Rationality and Measuring Aggregate Shocks Using Panel Data



Cointegration and Error Correction: Representation, Estimation and Testing



Handbook of Econometrics


Importance :

Analysis of Panel Data



Distribution of the Estimators for Autoregressive Time Series with a Unit Root

Description: Describes the Dickey–Fuller test.


The Standard Error of Regressions

Description: Emphasizes the difference between statistical significance and economic significance, and shows that the understanding is not clear in a review of papers from The American Economic Review.

Importance: Raised the caution against "asterisk economics" in econometrics to another level. See McCloskey critique.

Policy Evaluation: A Critique



Labor Economics

Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education

Description: Extensive study about the theoretical inclusion and empirical importance of education in production.

Importance: Classic study of how investment in an individual's education and training is similar to business investments.

Schooling, Experience, and Earnings

Description: Empirical investigation of the labor market returns to education.

Importance: Popularizing the empirical research in that subfield. Coining the so-called "Mincer equation".

Behavioral economics

Advances in Behavioral Economics


Definitive one-volume resource on the field.

Importance: Introduction

Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases



Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision Under Risk

Description: In this article, Prospect theory, a descriptive theory of choices under uncertainty, is introduced, bringing together ideas from psychology (framing and probability weighting) and economics (expected utility).

Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough

Irrational Behavior and Economic Theory

Description: In this paper, Becker demonstrates that neoclassical economic demand curves follow simply from the fact that compensated price changes in the goods available to consumers with fixed budget sets cause corresponding shifts in the consumption opportunity sets of those consumers and thus do not require any assumptions about the rationality of market participants to justify their use.

Importance: Potentially debunks any economic policy or market level analysis implications of the field of behavioral economics.

Experimental economics

Experimental Economics: Rethinking the Rules

Description: A first structured and methodical survey of economic methods, with a focus on methodology.

Importance: Consolidation of the field, methodological issues.

Behavioral Game Theory

Description: A handbook for advanced experimental and behavioral economics students.

Importance: Introduction

The Handbook of Experimental Economics

Description: The most influential[ according to whom? ] experimental economics handbook.

Importance: Introduction, Influence


Portfolio Theory

Description: Development of the utility framework which shows an optimum can be reached using a portfolio of investments. In effect the first real proof that you should not put all your eggs in one basket.

Importance: Precursor to most modern portfolio theory work in finance.

Capital asset pricing model

Description: Development of the capital asset pricing model used to determine appropriate prices for assets.

Importance: Topic creator, Influence

The pricing of options and corporate liabilities

Description: It developed the Black–Scholes model for determining the price of options, in particular stock options. The use of the Black–Scholes formula has become pervasive in financial markets, and has been extended by numerous refinements.

Importance: Breakthrough, Influence


Ecological economics

The Entropy Law and the Economic Process (1971, Harvard University Press) by Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen.

Steady-State Economics (2nd edition, 1991, Island Press) by Herman Daly

Natural Capitalism, Paul Hawken

Small Is Beautiful, E.F. Schumacher

Consumer theory

Economics and Consumer Behavior, Deaton & Muellbauer, Cambridge.

Production theory

Industrial organization

The theory of Industrial Organisation



Sunk costs and industry structure



Managerial economics

Development economics

Description: First modern development economics textbook

Importance: Introduction

Description: Widely used textbook.

Importance: Introduction

Description: Widely used textbook.

Importance: Introduction

Description: examines the last 30 years of development economics, viewed through the World Bank's World Development Reports.

Welfare economics

The Economics of Welfare

Description: Pigou was the one of the most influential economists that dealt with Welfare economics. He developed the idea of Pigovian tax.

Importance: Topic creator, Breakthrough, Influence

Collective Choice and Social Welfare

Description: Inspired renewed interest in basic welfare issues, mentioned in Sen's Nobel citation

Importance: Influence

Health economics

Uncertainty and the Welfare Economics of Medical Care

Description: Explores the "specific differentia of medical care as the object of normative economics", demonstrating that the consideration of uncertainty is key to understanding markets in health care.

Importance: Generally considered a seminal work of enduring significance; key to the foundation of health economics as a field of study.

The Economics of Health and Health Care

Description: The standard health economics textbook in most leading universities. It assumes some background knowledge in economics.

Importance: Introduction.

Handbook of Health Economics

Description: The most comprehensive available collection of essays on contemporary health economics. Advanced readers will appreciate its mathematical rigor. Those who are seeking research or dissertation topics should find this two-volume set to be an invaluable resource.

Institutional economics

Law and economics

Posner, Richard A. "Economic Analysis of Law." (1973)

Related Research Articles

Economics Social science

Economics is "the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services."

Political economy The political economy is the science of the development of social production

Political economy is the study of production and trade and their relations with law, custom and government; and with the distribution of national income and wealth. As a discipline, political economy originated in moral philosophy, in the 18th century, to explore the administration of states' wealth, with "political" signifying the Greek word polity and "economy" signifying the Greek word οἰκονομία. The earliest works of political economy are usually attributed to the British scholars Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, and David Ricardo, although they were preceded by the work of the French physiocrats, such as François Quesnay (1694–1774) and Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot (1727–1781). There is also a tradition which is almost as long, of critique of political economy.

Gary Becker American economist (1930–2014)

Gary Stanley Becker was an American economist who received the 1992 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. He was a professor of economics and sociology at the University of Chicago, and was a leader of the third generation of the Chicago school of economics.

Financial economics is the branch of economics characterized by a "concentration on monetary activities", in which "money of one type or another is likely to appear on both sides of a trade". Its concern is thus the interrelation of financial variables, such as share prices, interest rates and exchange rates, as opposed to those concerning the real economy. It has two main areas of focus: asset pricing and corporate finance; the first being the perspective of providers of capital, i.e. investors, and the second of users of capital. It thus provides the theoretical underpinning for much of finance.

This aims to be a complete article list of economics topics:

Monetary economics is the branch of economics that studies the different competing theories of money: it provides a framework for analyzing money and considers its functions, and it considers how money can gain acceptance purely because of its convenience as a public good. The discipline has historically prefigured, and remains integrally linked to, macroeconomics. This branch also examines the effects of monetary systems, including regulation of money and associated financial institutions and international aspects.

Economic statistics is a topic in applied statistics that concerns the collection, processing, compilation, dissemination, and analysis of economic data. It is also common to call the data themselves 'economic statistics', but for this usage see economic data. The data of concern to economic statistics may include those of an economy within a region, country, or group of countries. Economic statistics may also refer to a subtopic of official statistics for data produced by official organizations. Analyses within economic statistics both make use of and provide the empirical data needed in economic research, whether descriptive or econometric. They are a key input for decision making as to economic policy. The subject includes statistical analysis of topics and problems in microeconomics, macroeconomics, business, finance, forecasting, data quality, and policy evaluation. It also includes such considerations as what data to collect in order to quantify some particular aspect of an economy and of how best to collect in any given instance.

The Chicago school of economics is a neoclassical school of economic thought associated with the work of the faculty at the University of Chicago, some of whom have constructed and popularized its principles. Milton Friedman and George Stigler are considered the leading scholars of the Chicago school.

Economic sociology Branch of sociology

Economic sociology is the study of the social cause and effect of various economic phenomena. The field can be broadly divided into a classical period and a contemporary one, known as "new economic sociology".

William Baumol American economist (1922–2017)

William Jack Baumol was an American economist. He was a professor of economics at New York University, Academic Director of the Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He was a prolific author of more than eighty books and several hundred journal articles.

Applied economics is the application of economic theory and econometrics in specific settings. As one of the two sets of fields of economics, it is typically characterized by the application of the core, i.e. economic theory and econometrics to address practical issues in a range of fields including demographic economics, labour economics, business economics, industrial organization, agricultural economics, development economics, education economics, engineering economics, financial economics, health economics, monetary economics, public economics, and economic history. From the perspective of economic development, the purpose of applied economics is to enhance the quality of business practices and national policy making.

Family economics applies economic concepts such as production, division of labor, distribution, and decision making to the family. It is used to explain outcomes unique to family—such as marriage, the decision to have children, fertility, polygamy, time devoted to domestic production, and dowry payments using economic analysis.

The Journal of Political Economy is a monthly peer-reviewed academic journal published by the University of Chicago Press. Established by James Laurence Laughlin in 1892, it covers both theoretical and empirical economics. In the past, the journal published quarterly from its introduction through 1905, ten issues per volume from 1906 through 1921, and bimonthly from 1922 through 2019. The editor-in-chief is Magne Mogstad.

Mathematical economics is the application of mathematical methods to represent theories and analyze problems in economics. Often, these applied methods are beyond simple geometry, and may include differential and integral calculus, difference and differential equations, matrix algebra, mathematical programming, or other computational methods. Proponents of this approach claim that it allows the formulation of theoretical relationships with rigor, generality, and simplicity.

Robert Wayne Clower was an American economist. He is credited with having largely created the field of stock-flow analysis in economics and with seminal works on the microfoundations of monetary theory and macroeconomics.

In economics, non-convexity refers to violations of the convexity assumptions of elementary economics. Basic economics textbooks concentrate on consumers with convex preferences and convex budget sets and on producers with convex production sets; for convex models, the predicted economic behavior is well understood. When convexity assumptions are violated, then many of the good properties of competitive markets need not hold: Thus, non-convexity is associated with market failures, where supply and demand differ or where market equilibria can be inefficient. Non-convex economies are studied with nonsmooth analysis, which is a generalization of convex analysis.

Convexity is an important topic in economics. In the Arrow–Debreu model of general economic equilibrium, agents have convex budget sets and convex preferences: At equilibrium prices, the budget hyperplane supports the best attainable indifference curve. The profit function is the convex conjugate of the cost function. Convex analysis is the standard tool for analyzing textbook economics. Non‑convex phenomena in economics have been studied with nonsmooth analysis, which generalizes convex analysis.

Edward J. Nell is an American economist and a former professor at the New School for Social Research. Nell was a member of the New School faculty from 1969 to 2014. He achieved the rank of Malcolm B. Smith Professor of Economics in 1990.

Marxian economics Heterodox school of economic thought; concerns crisis, surplus value, class, and others

Marxian economics, or the Marxian school of economics, is a heterodox school of political economic thought. Its foundations can be traced back to Karl Marx's critique of political economy. However, unlike critics of political economy, Marxian economists tend to accept the concept of the economy prima facie, in contrast to those engaged in marxian critique of political economy. Marxian economics comprises several different theories and includes multiple schools of thought, which are sometimes opposed to each other, and in many cases Marxian analysis is used to complement or supplement other economic approaches. Because one does not necessarily have to be politically Marxist to be economically Marxian, the two adjectives coexist in usage rather than being synonymous. They share a semantic field while also allowing connotative and denotative differences.


  1. 1 2 Sandmo, Agnar (2011). Economics evolving : a history of economic thought. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN   9780691148427.
  2. 1 2 Canterbury, E. Ray (2011). A brief history of economics : artful approaches to the dismal science (2nd ed.). Singapore: World Scientific. ISBN   9789814304801.
  3. full-text, 2004 follow-up study
  4. Becker, G. (1962). 'Irrational Behavior and Economic Theory', Journal of Political Economy, 70(1), 1–13. Available at: (Accessed: June 8, 2021).
  5. 1 2 Appelrouth & Edles 2007 , p. 24