The trade (policy) discourse in top economic journals

ICAE Working Paper Series, No. 97, revised version, March 2020

44 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2019 Last revised: 1 Jul 2020

See all articles by Matthias Aistleitner

Matthias Aistleitner

Johannes Kepler University - ICAE

Stephan Puehringer

Johannes Kepler University of Linz - Institute for Comprehensive Analysis of the Economy (ICAE)

Date Written: March 14, 2020

Abstract

In the aftermath of recent populist upheavals in Europe, nationalist economic policies challenge the overly positive view on economic integration and the reduction of trade barriers established by standard economic theory. For quite a long time the great majority of economists supported trade liberalization policies, at least those actively engaged in policy advice or public debates. In this paper, we examine the elite economics discourse on trade policies during the last 20 years regarding specific characteristics of authors, affiliations, citation patterns, the overall attitude towards trade, as well as the methodological approach applied in these papers. Our analysis yields the following results: First, the hierarchical structure of economics also manifests in the debate about trade. Second, while we found some indications of a shift towards more empirically oriented work, quite often empirical data is solely used to calibrate models rather than to challenge potentially biased theoretical assumptions. Third, top economic discourses on trade are predominantly characterised by a normative bias in favour of trade liberalization policies. Forth, we found that other-than-economic impacts and implications of trade policies (political, social and cultural as well as environmental issues) to a great extent either remain unmentioned or are
rationalised by means of pure economic criteria.

Keywords: trade evaluation; trade policies; ‘empirical turn’; social studies of economics; bibliometric analysis; top economic journals

JEL Classification: A12, A14, B41, F10

Suggested Citation

Aistleitner, Matthias and Puehringer, Stephan, The trade (policy) discourse in top economic journals (March 14, 2020). ICAE Working Paper Series, No. 97, revised version, March 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3425759 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3425759

Matthias Aistleitner

Johannes Kepler University - ICAE ( email )

Linz
Austria

Stephan Puehringer (Contact Author)

Johannes Kepler University of Linz - Institute for Comprehensive Analysis of the Economy (ICAE) ( email )

Aubrunnerweg 3a
A-4040 Linz
Austria

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