11 Funniest Papers in the History of Economics

This list is naturally a subjective endeavor, so readers are welcome to fault me for selecting one of my own articles for the list. Many of these articles are from the Miscellany section in the Journal of Political Economy from the days when George Stigler was the editor, or a similar section in Economic Inquiry., which I oversee. Many of them are in the compendium of economics humor that I maintain on my website or in Caroline Postelle Clotfelter’s 1997 book On the Third Hand: Wit and Humor in the Dismal Science. Clotfelter is one of the few women engaged in the field of economics humor, and I have high hopes that women will be more prominently features in future Top Ten lists of history of economics humor. See full article via 250words.com

11 Funniest Papers in the History of Economics – list

1. “Life among the Econ” (1973) by Axel Leijonhufvud

2. “The theory of interstellar trade” (1978/2010) by Paul Krugman

3. “The effect of prayer on God’s attitude toward mankind” (1980/2010) by James Heckman

4. “The conference handbook” (1982) by George Stigler

5. “Macroeconomic policy and the optimal destruction of vampires” (1982) by Dennis Snower

6. “American economic growth and the voyage of Columbus” (1983) by Preston McAfee

7. “Mankiw’s ten principles of economics, translated” (2003) by Yoram Bauman

8. “Can financial innovation help to explain the reduced volatility of economic activity?” (2006) by Karen E. Dynan et al.

9. “Japan’s Phillips Curve looks like Japan” (2008) by Gregor Smith

10. “On the efficiency of AC/DC? Bon Scott versus Brian Johnson” (2009) by Robert Oxoby

11. “An option value problem from Seinfeld” (2011) by Avinash Dixit

On the Third Hand Wit and Humor in the Dismal Science History of Economics
History of Economics

On the Third Hand: Wit and Humor in the Dismal Science by Caroline Postelle Clotfelter

History of Economics On the Third Hand: Wit and Humor in the Dismal Science – Description

If ever you suspected that economic humor is an oxymoron, read on. This anthology, offering over a hundred selections of economic humor in the form of essays, fables, cartoons, verses, parodies, and epigrams drawn from works ancient and modern, will disabuse you of that notion by way of laughter. The contributors, about evenly divided between economists and noneconomists, share a common urge to poke fun at economics and its practitioners. Their styles and methods, however, range from kind and gentle to mordant and misanthropic; this is not surprising given the diversity of their professions: diplomat, playwright, printer’s devil, publisher, columnist, physician, inventor, minister, corporate president, radio star, New York Stock Exchange member, and philosopher, to name but a few.

In On the Third Hand: Wit and Humor in the Dismal Science, bringing economic humor into the light of day, Caroline Clotfelter gathers her collection of materials into recognizable categories: economists as others see them, the language and methods of economics, Econ 101, micro- and macroeconomics, and basic economic models and ideas. Aiding and abetting her include such luminaries as John Stuart Mill, George Bernard Shaw, Mad Magazine, Stephen Leacock, Emily Dickinson, Rube Goldberg, Pogo, and John Kenneth Galbraith. As no other, On the Third Hand: Wit and Humor in the Dismal Science will challenge economists to enjoy jokes at their own expense; noneconomists may have even less difficulty finding something funny in this most dismal of sciences.

Caroline Postelle Clotfelter, former Professor of Economics, Mercer University, is now retired.