What is economics’ breakthrough of the year?
frm Merijn Knibbe
Some of the more important economic studies are never published in journals – let alone A+ journals. They stay within the walls of the Statistical Institutes, like Eurostat. Or they are published, anonimously, in the Bulletins of Central Banks. See Box 1 on p. 22 of the Bulletin of the Central Bank of Ireland, 2011, first quarter.. That’s a problem, as such publications do not count when economists apply for jobs at universities – which means that people working at for instance the Statistical Institutes will have problems when they apply for a university job. Which means that Universities do not employ people with first hand experience with the construction of economic statistics… That’s bad. And it’s also rather daft – people like Friedrich Hayek, Jan Tinbergen, Milton Friedman and John Maynard Keynes did do this kind of work, for an extended time!
Also, on this site, complaints about the (small) world of university economics are sometimes posted. Who ares! But it seems to be increasingly important that an economist can show a track record of publications in ‘important’ journals (i.e. when they want to apply for a job), prices and comparable tokens of prestige. But ‘prestige’ nowadays seems to have a rather ‘old school’ definition… Time for a change. Maybe this an idea for the World Economics Association:
‘Science’ every year publishes the ‘breakthrough of the year’. Economics are, however, absent from this list. .The newsletter of the World Economics Association might, every year, publish the ‘economic breakthrough of the year’. Possible rules:
1. Any of the 7.000 members of the Association can nominate either one (and only one) article from whichever journal in whichever language, or a book. The reason to include non-english articles and books is simple: these seem to fall outside the scope of the average Anglo-Saxon economist, which means that there will quite some low hanging fruit for the picking.
2. The articles or books are allowed to be anonimous, or to be the work of an institution.
3. The nomination has to include a ‘letter of recommendation’.
4. Selected members of the Association will make up a shortlist. As the Association has a world-wide membership, this committee can ask members to rate articles and books not written in english.
5. Nominations can of course include business economics, consumer science, evolutionary economics, the history of economic thought, economic history and whatever.
6. The focus will be on ‘empirical discoveries’, not on ‘method’.
7. Either a committee can choose the ‘breakthrough’ or an online ‘beauty contest’ might lead to the election of the ‘breakthrough’.
8. Special categories might include: ‘Ph.D.’s of the year’ or a ‘lifetime achievement award’.