Who are the Catholic economists?

Gregory Barr asks me:

Do you know of any prominent Catholic economists, either alive now or in the last century or so?  Say, in the top 200 economists or so.  It's not that I judge economists' ideas by their religion, but, as a Catholic, I am curious.  There may be some top-notch economists who are Catholic, but I don't know who they are.  Contrarily, I've actually heard of prominent Catholic scientists, philosophers, historians, etc.

If there aren't many, do you have a theory about why that might be? 

I suspect this is more of a question about Catholicism than about economics.  I follow economics, and economists, fairly closely, but I don't have much of an idea who the active Catholics are, no matter how you define that term.  Nor do many famous Catholic economists, whoever they may be, self-identify in any prominent way that I am aware of.

There is a longstanding tradition of Catholic "social economics" and it is one question why that approach has not attracted more talent.  It is ghettoized, and considered excessively normative, in part for its preoccupation with questions of social justice.  The journal Review of Social Economy used to embody this tradition.

"Catholic economics" was prominent in the 19th century, and Le Play was a very influential thinker on the Continent.  Here is a bit on Heinrich Pesch, an important 19th century Catholic thinker who was also an economist.

Emil Kauder wrote a very good book arguing, among other things, that the Catholic thinkers were more likely to be early founders of the marginal utility tradition (Marginal Revolution is in large part a Catholic concept!).  I am pretty sure that the members of the early "School of Salamanca" were Catholic, at least nominally.  Also see the R.S. Howey book on the history of marginal utility theory.

After Plato, the medieval scholastics were the founding fathers of economic thinking and this stems in part from their Catholic-related tendency to systematize their philosophical thought.  Furthermore many of the nominalists were very strong methodological individualists.

These days, I would think that a Catholic economist should be especially skeptical about the Kaldor-Hicks potential compensation principle as a source of normative judgments.  

Larry Iannoccone, a founder of the economics of religion approach, is an evangelical Protestant, not a Catholic.  You won't find any sign of those loyalties in his work and when I first met Larry I had been assuming he was an atheist or agnostic, not a believer.  Bob Tollison wrote a book on the economics of the Catholic church but I don't think he is a Catholic either.

Here is a Facebook group for Catholic economists.  Here is a related blog.  Here is a short essay on what a Catholic economics should look like.

What else do you all know?


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