Wikidata for winners (in Economics)

One of my jobs brings me into contact with lots of economists, so although I’m not an economist myself the subject is much on my mind when I use Wikidata. The award received (P166) property links people or organisations to awards they have won. Maybe I can use this to find the most decorated economist?

The most prestigious award in Economics is the Nobel Memorial Prize, and Wikipedia and Wikidata have rich detail about the 79 (so far) laureates. My first instinct is to make an interactive map: it could be a map of their birthplaces, of institutions they’ve worked at, or a map of their places of education. The latter seems most useful, but the small number of winners means the map is a bit sparse.

Screenshot from map of Economics Nobel winners’ places of education

(Here’s the live query)

Most common places of education for Nobel Memorial Prize winners, according to Wikidata: 1) Harvard University 2) University of Chicago 3) MIT.

Opening it up to all awards won by economists brings up thousands and thousands of results, including things like the Israel Prize, the Order of Francisco de Miranda, or Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Let’s do a count, defining “economist” as someone with economist as their occupation or economics as their field of work (here’s the live query).

With 950 different awards in total, it turns out that 12 economists have been Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, 28 have received the National Order of the Legion of Honour, but the award given to most economists, at 214, is the Soviet-era Order of the Red Banner of Labour.

I want something more manageable, and to identify the most decorated economist, not just a highly-decorated person who happens to be, or have been, an economist. Fortunately, awards for economics can be identified in Wikidata as instances of economics award (Q17701409). It’s been my spare-time hobby over the last couple of weeks to add awards, drawing them from the official web sites of awarding organisations. I’ve added around 250, and identified a few awards that were not tagged as economics awards. There are presently 622 individuals with awards.

Having the years attached to each award (as we do for about 400 cases) helps to identify people who won an award multiple times. The only example I could find was Per Strömberg, who won the Brattle Prize twice, eight years apart.

Here’s a query for the full list. This is a very incomplete data set, but for some major awards it is complete and up-to-date. Some economics awards recognise authors of economics papers. When not much is known about the person other than their authorship of the paper, they don’t have any representation on Wikipedia or Wikidata, so don’t appear in the list. Because of this notability restriction, you couldn’t use these data to find, say, the prizes that best predicted an eventual Nobel.

Let’s assume that all awards are equal — a blatantly false idealisation for mathematical convenience, but this is economics we’re talking about. Then the most decorated economist is the one with the most economics awards. This query lists winners of more than one economics award, with a list of awards they’ve won. It’s topped by two French economists with five awards each: Esther Duflo and Emmanuel Saez. Despite the list being dominated by Nobel laureates, neither of the top two include a Nobel in their five awards.

Screenshot of “Winners of more than one economics award” query

I’ve been running different queries about economists and about winners of economics awards, but occupation data in Wikidata is a bit ropey. Maybe there are winners of economics awards who are not listed as economists?

Here’s a query for winners of economics awards who do not have economist listed as their occupation. There are some political figures such as Mikhail Gorbachev or Gro Harlem Brundtland who won awards for doing something positive with an economy while not themselves being economists. There are people who won early-career awards while students or postdocs, and who went into a non-economics field, but some checking will probably find people in this set who ought to have economist added to their occupations.