The Age of the Applied Economist: The Transformation of Economics Since the 1970s

43 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2016  

Roger Backhouse

University of Birmingham - Department of Economics

Beatrice Cherrier

CREM Université de Caen

Date Written: November 11, 2016

Abstract

It is widely accepted that economics has changed significantly since the 1970s with the development of new data sources, new methods of analysis and the computer. This paper argues that this transformation of the discipline involves more than just a rise of empirical work: it involves a new understanding of the relationship between theoretical and applied work, which raised the prestige of the latter. The meaning of economic theory and applied work and the boundaries between them changed as theory and empirical work alike became more applied in the sense that they were brought to bear on specific social issues, often with a policy orientation. Drawing on an analysis of John Bates Clark medal winners and on papers published in a special volume of History of Political Economy, to which which this is an introduction, we then discuss reasons for this transformation. It resulted from new modeling strategies, data sets and technologies as as well as the changing influence of public and private patrons.

Keywords: Applied economics, theory, applied theory, John Bates Clark Medal, JEL codes, core, economic policy, computation, data, econometrics

JEL Classification: A10, B20, B40, C00

Suggested Citation

Backhouse, Roger and Cherrier, Beatrice, The Age of the Applied Economist: The Transformation of Economics Since the 1970s (November 11, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2868144 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2868144

Roger Backhouse

University of Birmingham - Department of Economics ( email )

Economics Department
Birmingham, B15 2TT
United Kingdom

Beatrice Cherrier (Contact Author)

CREM Université de Caen ( email )

Dpt Carrières Sociales, IUT
Pôle Universitaire Montfoulon
Damigny, 61250
France

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