Congratulations John D. Singleton and Matthew Panhans


The Center for the History of Political Economy celebrates two remarkable young economists, Matthew Panhans and John D. Singleton, who earned their doctoral degrees this spring. A brief survey of their accomplishments suggests the benefit they derived from three of Duke’s unique resources: the Economist’s Papers Archive, the world’s largest collection of academic papers of important economists; the journal, History of Political Economy, which sponsors annual conferences and offers opportunities for publication; and the Center for the History of Political Economy, an international intellectual community of new and established scholars in the field. In John’s words, “I would not have come to Duke without the Center; the Center helped make Duke my intellectual home.”

Each distinguished himself early on: Matt participated in the 2011 Summer in the Archives program, in which he helped organize, and create finding aids for, the papers of Juanita Kreps, who served as Vice President of Duke University and was the first female Secretary of Commerce, and Paul Davidson, a founding Post-Keynesian macroeconomist. John wrote a paper, “Sorting Charles Tiebout,” which he presented at the 2014 HOPE Conference, “Market Failure in Context,” and which was published in a volume of the same name by Duke University Press.

At the Center, the two economists quickly established a fruitful scholarly collaboration. Drawing on the Economists’ Papers Archive, Matt and John documented the founding of the Econometric Society and its journal, Econometrica ( They went on to coauthor a paper on the history of applied economics, and particularly the rise of quasi-experimental methods, “The Empirical Economist’s Toolkit,” which created a social media sensation when posted on the SSRN website ( They presented this paper at the 2016 HOPE Conference and it will be published in The Age of the Applied Economist: The Transformation of Economics after 1970, forthcoming from Duke University Press. In addition, Matt and John presented their work at numerous conferences, including the 2015 History of Economics Summer School in Latin America (Bogotá, Colombia); the 2015 Summer Institute for the History of Economic Thought (Richmond, VA); the 2015 History of Economics Society meetings (East Lansing, MI); the 2015 Summer School in the History of Science and Economics (Montréal, QC); and the 2016 Allied Social Science Associations meetings (San Francisco, CA). “John and Matt distinguished themselves repeatedly while here at Duke, and I am sure that will continue,” said Center Director Bruce Caldwell. “At this point I consider them colleagues, not students.” 

Matt and John also share an interest in the application of economics to public policy: While Matt’s interest in health economics led him to a dissertation on health insurance and healthcare markets, John’s interest in education economics let him to explore charter schools and school choice policies. In support of his research, John was chosen as a National Academy of Education Spencer Dissertation Fellow ( After graduation, Matt will begin a position as an Economist in the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Economics while John will take a tenure-track position at the University of Rochester. When asked whether they foresaw further collaboration in their future, both answered affirmatively, noting that their research agendas included many common interests.