How has economics publishing changed over the years?

I was searching for some papers the other day, and came across these papers. I haven’t read through the whole paper, but have merely taken a glance through them, and mostly jumped straight to the tables. Fairly interesting insights, some of which you would probably have already known if you are an economist.

Disclaimer: All tables are from the papers.

Interesting new papers:

1. Six decades of top economics publishing: Who and How?

There is an increase in percentage of authors in the “51 and above” age group publishing in top economic journals over the years. The paper suggests that older economists are now healthier and more active compared to previous cohorts, and that the abolition of mandatory retirement for faculty in 1994 (that is a US regulation?) also increased the monetary incentives to continue publishing. In my daily reads of papers for my research, I do notice several papers published by prominent older economists, some of which are an extension of work done a while ago. Many of these publications also focus on contemporary topics relevant to the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. Perhaps crises and the aftermath of more data does result in more publications by older economists?

If data is anything to go by, I think this set of data suggests that it is indeed harder for someone who has just entered academia in Economics to publish, and that not many females has published in top economic journals (even if that percentage has increased slightly over time). But, really, that latter point is probably due to the fact that the Economics field is still men dominated.


More people are co-authoring over the years. It’s a good thing to know that there are more interactions between economists these days! I think people realise there could be synergy in co-authoring, although I really am not too sure about having 5 co-authors.


I have always thought that the “Theory with simulation” category is growing. I think it would be hard to conduct any research under the “borrowed data” category, just because to get a set of data these days, you really have to get it from different sources. Gone are the days where you can get data from just one source.


Theory with simulation includes calibration in macroeconomics; borrowed data are all data sets that are copied directly from books (the old technology) or provided electronically; self-generated data include data sets assembled from diverse electronic or other sources; and experiments include both laboratory work and author-initiated field experiments.

2. Nine facts about top journals in Economics

Some facts I found interesting:

1. Annual submissions to the top-5 journals nearly doubled from 1990 to 2012.

2. The total number of articles published in these journals actually declined from 400 per year in the late 1970s to 300 per year most recently. As a result, the acceptance rate has fallen from 15% to 6%, with potential implications for the career progression of young scholars.

9. Although the fraction of articles from different fields published in the top-5 has remained relatively stable, there are important cohort trends in the citations received by papers from different fields, with rising citations to more recent papers in Development and International, and declining citations to recent papers in Econometrics and Theory.

As a PhD student who has been in this academic environment for the last three years, I’ve seen how important journal publications are. I’ve seen people who have left when they were on a tenure track because they couldn’t get enough publications. I have seen peers who have started submitting to journals over the years because they would like to be an academic after finishing their PhD. I suspect the correlation between the number of publications and probability of getting tenured/getting an academic job has probably jumped over the years.

No. 9 is actually a little surprising, with regards to the declining citations to recent papers in Econometrics and Theory.