THE EFFECTS OF PUBLICATION LAGS ON LIFE-CYCLE RESEARCH PRODUCTIVITY IN ECONOMICS

Authors

  • JOHN P. CONLEY,

    1. Conley: Professor, Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37027. Phone 1-615-322-2920, Fax 1-615-343-8495, E-mail j.p.conley@vanderbilt.edu
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  • MARIO J. CRUCINI,

    1. Crucini: Associate Professor, NBER and Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37235. Phone 1-615-322-7357, Fax 1-615-343-8495, E-mail mario.j.crucini@vanderbilt.edu
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  • ROBERT A. DRISKILL,

    1. Driskill: Professor, Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37235. Phone 1-615-322-2128, Fax 1-615-343-8495, E-mail robert.a.driskill@vanderbilt.edu
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  • ALI SINA ÖNDER

    1. Önder: Assistant Professor, Department of Economics and Uppsala Center for Fiscal Studies (UCFS), Uppsala University, Uppsala, SE 75313, Sweden. Phone 46-18-471-5116, Fax 46-18-471-1478, E-mail alisina.onder@nek.uu.se
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    • We wish to thank John Siegfried and the AEA staff, particularly Elizabeth Braunstein, for making JEL publication data available to us, as well as Jonathan Lee and Peter Kozciuk for excellent research assistance. We thank Ted Bergstrom, Andreea Mitrut, Laurent Simula, seminar participants at Vanderbilt University, Uppsala University, University of Gothenburg, and University of Hohenheim, session participants in the Public Economic Theory Meeting 2011, the Canadian Economic Association 2011 and the European Economic Association and the Econometric Society European 2011 Meetings, and two anonymous referees for helpful comments. We take responsibility for any errors that remain.


Abstract

We investigate how increases in publication delays have affected the life cycle of publications of recent Ph.D. graduates in economics. We construct a panel dataset of 14,271 individuals who were awarded Ph.D.s between 1986 and 2000 in U.S. and Canadian economics departments. For this population of scholars, we amass complete records of publications in peer-reviewed journals listed in the JEL (a total of 368,672 observations). We find evidence of significantly diminished productivity in recent relative to earlier cohorts when productivity of an individual is measured by the number of AER-equivalent publications. Diminished productivity is less evident when the number of AER-equivalent pages is used instead. Our findings are consistent with earlier empirical findings of increasing editorial delays, decreasing acceptance rates at journals, and a trend toward longer manuscripts. This decline in productivity is evident in both graduates of top 30 and non-top 30 ranked economics departments and may have important implications for what should constitute a tenurable record. We also find that the research rankings of top economics departments are a surprisingly poor predictor of the subsequent research rankings of their Ph.D.s graduates. (JEL A11, J24, J29, J44)

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