Frontiers of economic research

Sebastian Galiani, Ramiro Gálvez, Maria Victoria Anauati, 21 September 2015

Counting citations is the mainstream approach to judging a paper’s academic impact. This column summarises research into the citation lifecycle of economic papers and how it differs for papers classed as applied, applied theory, theory, or econometric methods. There is a clear-cut lifecycle for economics articles. More importantly for professional evaluation, the cycle differs markedly across fields.

Thomas Hills, Eugenio Proto, Daniel Sgroi, 18 September 2015

With records of subjective wellbeing going back less than half a century, this column asks if we can know the impact of key past events on the happiness of our ancestors. It presents a new historical index that draws on millions of digitised books in the Google Books corpus of words using sentiment analysis. The index – which goes back to the 1776 US Declaration of Independence, 200 years earlier than any other index of happiness – makes it possible to analyse the historical drivers of happiness in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US.

Shaun Larcom, Ferdinand Rauch, Tim Willems, 15 September 2015

Suboptimal behaviour has been discussed but has not been studied extensively empirically. This column argues that the February 2014 London Underground strike enabled a sizeable fraction of commuters to find better routes. Due to the strike, many commuters were forced to experiment and around 5% stuck with these new routes after the strike was over. The strike produced an overall net benefit. Commuters seem to ‘satisfice’ and under-experiment during normal times.

Dmitry Dagaev, Alex Suzdaltsev, 13 September 2015

Designing a tournament to keep each game or round as exciting as possible for spectators is, as you might imagine, complex and nuanced. Yet, most sporting tournaments use a basic ‘knock-out’ model, and have done for years. This column argues that tournament organisers ought to be more creative, and illustrates a model and examples suggesting that tournament organisers should not confine themselves to tradition. Choosing the proper scheme is a hard but feasible goal for tournament designers.

Joram Mayshar, Omer Moav, Zvika Neeman, Luigi Pascali, 11 September 2015

Conventional theory suggests that hierarchy and state institutions emerged due to increased productivity following the Neolithic transition to farming. This column argues that these social developments were a result of an increase in the ability of both robbers and the emergent elite to appropriate crops. Hierarchy and state institutions developed, therefore, only in regions where appropriable cereal crops had sufficient productivity advantage over non-appropriable roots and tubers.

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