If you'd asked me which is the best school of economics in the country, I would have guessed the University of Chicago only because I'm a big fan of the Freakonomics podcast and professor Steven Levitt.
Turns out the University of Chicago is also huge when it comes to experimental economics, although the top school for that discipline in the world is in Orange, as is the institute that is tied with Levitt's joint at No. 2.
The RePEc ((Research Papers in Economics) world rankings look as follows:
1. Argyros School of Business and Economics, Chapman University, Orange, California (USA)
2. [tie] Department of Economics, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (USA)
Economic Science Institute (ESI), Argyros School of Business and Economics, Chapman University, Orange, California (USA)
4. Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakutät, Universität Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland
Now, I haven't a clue what experimental economics is, other than it apparently involves the use of experiments in laboratories to help answer economic questions. Or something like that.
For the RePEc Project, researchers in 78 countries disseminated the latest research in economics and related sciences to create a public-access database with information on more than 35,000 authors; more than 10,700 institutions (economics departments, research institutes, government organizations); and bibliographic information on more than 1.4 million research pieces, including 237,000 working papers and 344,000 articles. The rankings reflect the top institutions as of August 2013, determined by a weighted sum of all authors (and their working papers) affiliated with the institution.
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Chapman folk tell me that when it comes to experimental economics, the campus has a ringer in faculty member and Nobel laureate Vernon Smith, as well as his papers and articles. Known by some as the "father of experimental economics," Smith and his colleagues Bart Wilson, Stephen Rassenti, David Porter and John Dickhaut founded the ESI at Chapman in 2008. Here is how the U describes it:
Launched as an alternate, more hands-on method of economic education, the ESI at Chapman University is an academic center that uses the laboratory method of inquiry to study the role human institutions play in creating social rules and order, and also builds and tests market and management systems. ESI's research spans the fields of accounting, economics, finance, information systems, engineering, psychology, neuroscience, computer science and philosophy.
Meanwhile, there's another reason they are popping the sparkling cider at Chapman over the RePEc rankings. The University of Chicago is Chapman President Jim Doti's alma mater.