Frontiers of economic research

Leandro Prados de la Escosura, 23 November 2015

Indices of economic freedom refer mostly to the recent past, making policy prescriptions difficult to draw. This column presents a new historical index of economic liberty covering 21 OECD countries for the period 1850-2007. Over time, progress in economic liberty has derived from different factors, but improvements in legal structures and property rights emerge as the main forces behind the long-term gains. 

Leandro Prados de la Escosura, 20 November 2015

Human development provides a long-run view of well-being. This column presents a new historical index of human development covering 157 countries from the mid-19th century. The index gives a comprehensive view on human development on the global scale, and stresses the health and knowledge dimensions of well-being.

Giorgio Barba Navaretti, Giacomo Calzolari, Alberto Franco Pozzolo, 18 November 2015

Small and medium-sized enterprises are supposed to be the key to growth, everywhere. These enterprises are risky, and when they are so important to the well-being of an economy, someone must bear the risk of funding them. This column argues that there is a real need for policymakers to focus on how we finance SMEs, as getting the institutions and structures right can pay dividends in the long run.

Lisa D. Cook, Trevon D. Logan, John M. Parman, 13 November 2015

Much research has gone into trying to establish a connection in the US between having a distinctively black name and disadvantage over a lifetime. This column highlights a striking difference between the historical effects of having a black name and today’s effects. While modern black names show up in modern empirical studies as an albatross around the neck of those possessing them, either because those with such names come from worse socioeconomic conditions or face discrimination later in life, historical black names conveyed a large advantage accumulating over an individual’s lifetime.

Jay Bhattacharya, Mikko Packalen, 09 November 2015

Academics get ahead in part due to how often their papers are cited. This column argues that the pressure to publish research that garners a lot of citations stifles scientific progress by discouraging exploration. But in the absence of a plausible alternative for measuring the novelty of scientific publications, citation-based measures have persisted. This column presents a new way to rank scientific journals based on novelty as opposed to impact, which could encourage scientists to pursue more innovative work.

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