Is Hayek less important today?

Nicolai Foss writes:

I have the feeling that the thought of Friedrich von Hayek is receiving less and less attention…among economists and other social scientists Hayek is increasingly attaining the status of a classical writer in the sense of Schumpeter – namely somebody who is cited and invoked, but mainly for ceremonial/ritualistic reasons and more often in footnotes than in the main text. In contrast, little use is made of his work for purposes of actual theory development.

The "Hayek Industry" continues, but it feels less focal to the profession.  It is also less fashionable for outsiders to respond to Hayek, as did Lucas and Stiglitz.  I attribute this to two factors.  First the shift toward empirical work makes Hayek less relevant to many mainstream debates.  Hayek’s work had implications for the work of Kenneth Arrow, but not for how abortion legalization affects the crime rate.  Furthermore central planning and business cycles — two of Hayek’s main areas — are no longer such hot topics.  Second is the blogosphere.  Many of Hayek’s insights are deep and relatively philosophical; it is hard to put them into a snappy blog post.  For better or worse, it is easier for a market-oriented blogger to follow Becker, Alchian, or even Mises than Hayek.  I also believe that the blogosphere will, in the long run, favor the thought of Tullock over Buchanan, for similar reasons.

By the way, here is Nicolai on economists’ autographs.


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