Daron Acemoğlu

Acemoğlu’s Early Life and Education

Daron Acemoğlu [pronounced “Ah-jay-MOH-loo”] (b. 1967) was born in Istanbul, Turkey, into an ethnic-Armenian family.

Acemoğlu’s father was a lawyer and lecturer at Istanbul University. His mother was the principal of a private, Armenian-language school.

After attending his mother’s school for the elementary grades, Acemoğlu transferred to the highly selective Galatasaray High School, which was founded in 1481.

Upon graduating from Galatasaray in 1986, Acemoğlu traveled to the UK for his higher education, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of York in 1989.

For his graduate work, Acemoğlu was accepted by the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE), where he received both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in economics, in 1990 and 1992, respectively.

Acemoğlu’s doctoral dissertation was entitled “Essays in Microfoundations of Macroeconomics: Contracts and Economic Performance.”

Acemoğlu’s Career

Acemoğlu’s first job out of the gate, in 1992, was as a lecturer in economics at the LSE.

In 1993, Acemoğlu was appointed an assistant professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was promoted to associate professor in 1997, and full professor in 2000.

In 2004, Acemoğlu obtained the Charles P. Kindleberger professorship in applied economics at MIT, while in 2010 he received the Elizabeth and James Killian professorship of economics.

In 2005, Acemoğlu was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal for the best American economist under the age of 40.

In 2019, Acemoğlu was appointed an Institute Professor by MIT, a post he continues to occupy today.

Acemoğlu’s Ideas

Acemoğlu is a highly prolific scholar and a very versatile economist.

He has made contributions to a wide variety of subdisciplines, from such “humanistic” fields as development economics,  income and wage inequality, labor economics, growth, innovation, human capital, and economic history, to such “scientific” fields as Bayesian analysis and network economics.

In a nutshell, Acemoğlu has said that his work can be broadly captured by the old phrase “political economy”—meaning that most of his work involves in one way or another the interplay between various governmental formations and the economy.

Acemoğlu may also be said to work within the tradition of a movement associated with Joel Mokyr, Douglass North, and others, called the “new institutional economics.”

The new institutional economics focuses on local social institutions, especially official governmental and judicial laws and rules, but also unofficial cultural norms. The point of the approach is to tease out the many ways in which such local social institutions affect economic activity, thus requiring a modification of classical economic analysis.

 Selected Works by Acemoğlu

1. Works Authored or Co-authored by Acemoğlu

Technology, Unemployment and Efficiency,” European Economic Review Papers and Proceedings, 41: 525–534 (1997).

Changes in Unemployment and Wage Inequality: An Alternative Theory and Some Evidence,” American Economic Review, 89: 1259–1278 (1999).

Political Losers as a Barrier to Economic Development,” with James A. Robinson, American Economic

Review Papers and Proceedings, 90: 126–130 (2000).

A Theory of Political Transitions,” with James Robinson, American Economic Review, 91: 938–963 (2001).

Institutional Causes, Macroeconomic Symptoms: Volatility, Crises and Growth,” with Simon Johnson, James Robinson, and Yunyong Thaicharoen, Journal of Monetary Economics, 50: 49–123 (2003).

Minimum Wages and On-the-Job Training,” with Jörn-Steffen Pischke, Research in Labor Economics, 22: 159–202 (2003).

Kleptocracy and Divide-and-Rule: A Model of Personal Rule,” with James A. Robinson and Thierry Verdier, Journal of the European Economic Association, 2: 162192 (2004).

The Rise of Europe: Atlantic Trade, Institutional Change, and Economic Growth,” with Simon Johnson and James Robinson, American Economic Review, 95: 546–579 (2005).

Economic Backwardness in Political Perspective,” with James Robinson, American Political Science Review, 100: 115–131 (2006).

Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, with James A. Robinson (2006).

Incentives in Markets, Firms and Governments,” with Michael Kremer and Atif Mian, Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 24: 273–306 (2008).

Oligarchic Versus Democratic Societies,” Journal of European Economic Association, 6: 1–44 (2008).

Markets Versus Governments,” with Mike Golosov and Oleg Tsyvinski, Journal of Monetary Economics, 55: 159189 (2008).

Persistence of Elites, Power and Institutions,” with James Robinson, American Economic Review, 98: 267–293 (2008).

Income and Democracy,” with Simon Johnson, James Robinson, and Pierre Yared, American Economic Review, 98: 808842 (2008).

Reevaluating the Modernization Hypothesis,” with Simon Johnson, James A. Robinson, and Pierre Yared, Journal of Monetary Economics, 56: 10431058 (2009).

Foundations of Social Inequality,” with James A. Robinson, Science, 326: 678–679 (2009).

Introduction to Modern Economic Growth (2009).

Productivity Differences Between and Within Countries,” with Melissa Dell, American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, 2: 16988 (2010).

Why is Africa Poor?,” with James A. Robinson, Economic History of Developing Regions, 25: 21–50 (2010).

Theory, General Equilibrium, Political Economy and Empirics in Development Economics,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 24: 17–32 (2010).

“When Does Labor Scarcity Encourage Innovation?,” Journal of Political Economy, 118: 10371078 (2010).

Emergence and Persistence of Inefficient States,” with Davide Ticchi and Andrea Vindigni, Journal of European Economic Association, 9: 177208 (2011).

A Political Model of Social Evolution,” with Georgy Egorov and Konstantin Sonin, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 108(Supp. 4): 21292–21296 (2011).

Competing Engines of Growth: Innovation and Standardization,” with Gino Gancia and Fabrizio Zilibotti, Journal of Economic Theory, 147: 570–601 (2012).

Network Origins of Aggregate Fluctuations,” with Vasco Carvalho, Asuman Ozdaglar, and Alireza Tahbaz-Salehi, Econometrica, 80: 19772016 (2012).

The Consequences of Radical Reform: The French Revolution,” with Davide Cantoni, Simon Johnson, and James A. Robinson, American Economic Review, 101: 32863307 (2012).

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, with James A. Robinson (2012).

Opinion Fluctuations and Disagreement in Social Networks,” with Giacomo Como, Fabio Fagnani, and Asuman Ozdaglar, Mathematics of Operations Research, 38: 1–27 (2013).

Dynamics of Information Exchange in Endogenous Social Networks,” with Kostas Bimpikis and Asuman Ozdaglar, January 2014, Theoretical Economics, 9: 41–97 (2014).

Cycles of Conflict: An Economic Model,” with Alexander Wolitzky, American Economic Review, 104: 135067 (2014).

History, Expectations and Leadership in the Evolution of Cooperation,” with Matthew O. Jackson, Review of Economic Studies, 82: 1–34 (2015).

Systemic Risk and Stability in Financial Networks,” with Asuman Ozdaglar and Alireza Tahbaz-Salehi, American Economic Review, 105: 564–608 (2015).

The Rise and Decline of General Laws of Capitalism,” with James A. Robinson, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 29: 3–28 (2015).

Fragility of Asymptotic Agreement under Bayesian Learning,” with Victor Chernozhukov and Muhamet Yildiz, Theoretical Economics, 11: 187225 (2016).

The Value of Connections in Turbulent Times: Evidence from the United States,” with Simon Johnson, Amir Kermani, James Kwak, and Todd Mitton, Journal of Financial Economics, 121: 368–391 (2016).

Social Norms and the Enforcement of Laws,” with Matthew O. Jackson, Journal of the European Economic Association, 15: 245295 (2017).

Economics, with David Laibson and John A. List, second edition (2017).

Microeconomics, with David Laibson and John A. List, second edition (2017); global edition (2021).

Macroeconomics, with David Laibson and John A. List, second edition (2017); global edition (2018); third edition (2021).

Social Mobility and Stability of Democracy: Reevaluating de Tocqueville,” with Georgy Egorov and Konstantin Sonin, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 133: 1041–1105 (2018).

Innovation, Reallocation and Growth,” with Ufuk Akcigit, Harun Alp, Nicholas Bloom, and William Kerr, American Economic Review, 108: 34503491 (2018).

The Race between Man and Machine: Implications of Technology for Growth, Factor Shares, and Employment,” with Pascual Restrepo, American Economic Review, 108: 1488–1542 (2018).

Democracy Does Cause Growth,” with Suresh Naidu, Pascual Restrepo, and James A. Robinson, Journal of Political Economy, 127: 47100 (2019).

The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty, with James A. Robinson (2019).

Sustaining Cooperation: Community Enforcement versus Specialized Enforcement,” with Alexander Wolitzky, Journal of the European Economic Association, 18: 1078–1122 (2020).

Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor Markets,” with Pascual Restrepo, Journal of Political Economy, 128: 2188–2244 (2020).

2. Works Co-edited by Acemoğlu

Advances in Economics and Econometrics, with Manuel Arellano and Eddie Dekel (three volumes) (2013).

Redesigning AI: Work, Democracy, and Justice in the Age of Automation (2021).