Theory and Measurement: Emergence, Consolidation and Erosion of a Consensus

33 Pages Posted: 16 May 2016

See all articles by Jeff Biddle

Jeff Biddle

Michigan State University

Daniel S. Hamermesh

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: May 2016

Abstract

We identify three separate stages in the post-World War II history of applied microeconomic research: A generally non-mathematical period; a period of consensus (from the 1960s through the early 1990s) characterized by the use of mathematical models, optimization and equilibrium to generate and test hypotheses about economic behavior; and (from the late 1990s) a partial abandonment of economic theory in applied work in the “experimentalist paradigm.” We document the changes implied by the changing paradigms in the profession by coding the content of all applied micro articles published in the “Top 5 journals” in 1951-55, 1974-75 and 2007-08. We also show that, despite the partial abandonment of theory by applied microeconomists, the labor market for economists still pays a wage premium to theorists.

Suggested Citation

Biddle, Jeff E. and Hamermesh, Daniel S., Theory and Measurement: Emergence, Consolidation and Erosion of a Consensus (May 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22253. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2780261

Jeff E. Biddle (Contact Author)

Michigan State University ( email )

East Lansing, MI 48824
United States

Daniel S. Hamermesh

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Economics ( email )

Austin, TX 78712
United States
512-475-8526 (Phone)
512-471-3510 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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