What is the John Bates Clark Medal

The John Bates Clark Medal, or the Clark Medal, is one of the most prestigious awards in economics. Since 1947, the American Economic Association awards the Clark Medal to economists under the age of 40 who have made important contributions to the field of economics. Many winners of the Clark Medal have gone on to become Nobel Laureates.

BREAKING DOWN John Bates Clark Medal

The John Bates Clark Medal is named for the American neoclassical economist John Bates Clark. It is one of the most prestigious awards in economics, along with the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. In fact, several winners of the prize, including Milton Friedman, Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, have also won the Nobel Prize.

From 1947 to 2007, the Clark Medal was awarded only every two years. Starting in 2009, the prize is awarded annually. 

The roster of recipients includes many contemporary economic stars: Paul Samuelson (the first winner, in 1947), Milton Friedman, James Tobin, Kenneth Arrow, Robert Solow, Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Zvi Griliches, Gary Becker, Daniel McFadden, A. Michael Spence and Lawrence Summers.

While most winners of the award have been Americans, U.S. citizenship is not an eligibility requirement; economists of other nationalities are eligible if they are working in the U.S. For example, the 2017 winner, Dave Donaldson, is Canadian but was a professor at Stanford University when he was awarded the Clark medal.

Susan Athey of Stanford University was the first woman to win the medal in 2007.

Recent Winners of the John Bates Clark Medal

Recent winners of the Clark Medal include MIT professor Parag Pathak, who won the award in 2018 for his work on market design and education policy. Pathak’s research examined school choice mechanisms in American cities. He has worked with cities across the nation including Chicago, Denver, Newark, New York, New Orleans and Washington to help design new school choice systems.

Dave Donaldson, a Canadian economist who studies the effects of trade both within and between countries, was the winner of the Clark Medal in 2017. His most well-known work includes research about how the spread of railroads in India affected trade.

Yuliy Sannikov, a Ukrainian economist won the Clark Award in 2016. He was then a professor at Princeton University and was recognized for his work in developing new methods for analyzing continuous time dynamic games using stochastic calculus methods.

Other recent winners of the John Bates Clark Award include Roland Fryer, Matthew Gentzkow, Raj Chetty and Amy Finklestein.