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What's in a Surname? The Effects of Surname Initials on Academic Success

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  • Liran Einav
  • Leeat Yariv
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    Abstract

    In this paper, we focus on the effects of surname initials on professional outcomes in the academic labor market for economists. We begin our analysis with data on faculty in all top 35 U.S. economics departments. Faculty with earlier surname initials are significantly more likely to receive tenure at top ten economics departments, are significantly more likely to become fellows of the Econometric Society, and, to a lesser extent, are more likely to receive the Clark Medal and the Nobel Prize. These statistically significant differences remain the same even after we control for country of origin, ethnicity, religion or departmental fixed effects. As a test, we replicate our analysis for faculty in the top 35 U.S. psychology departments, for which coauthorships are not normatively ordered alphabetically. We find no relationship between alphabetical placement and tenure status in psychology. We suspect the "alphabetical discrimination" reported in this paper is linked to the norm in the economics profession prescribing alphabetical ordering of credits on coauthored publications. We also investigate the extent to which the effects of alphabetical placement are internalized by potential authors in their choices to work with different numbers of coauthors as well as in their willingness to follow the alphabetical ordering norm.

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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/089533006776526085
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

    Volume (Year): 20 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
    Pages: 175-187

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    Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:20:y:2006:i:1:p:175-188

    Note: DOI: 10.1257/089533006776526085
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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2003. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination," NBER Working Papers 9873, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Tanya S. Rosenblat & Markus M. Mobius, 2004. "Getting Closer or Drifting Apart?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(3), pages 971-1009, August.
    3. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1019-1053, October.
    4. Maxim Engers & Joshua S. Gans & Simon Grant & Stephen King, 1999. "First-Author Conditions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(4), pages 859-883, August.
    5. David N. Laband & Robert D. Tollison, 2000. "Intellectual Collaboration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 632-661, June.
    6. Jerry G. Thursby, 2000. "What Do We Say about Ourselves and What Does It Mean? Yet Another Look at Economics Department Research," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(2), pages 383-404, June.
    7. John Hudson, 1996. "Trends in Multi-authored Papers in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 153-158, Summer.
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    Cited by:
    1. C. Mirjam van Praag & Bernard M.S. van Praag, 2007. "The Benefits of Being Economics Professor A (and not Z)," Jena Economic Research Papers 2007-004, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
    2. Jonathan Meer & Harvey S. Rosen, 2008. "The ABCs of Charitable Solicitation," Working Papers 1057, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    3. Collado, M. Dolores & Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio & Romeu, Andrés, 2012. "Intergenerational linkages in consumption patterns and the geographical distribution of surnames," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 341-350.
    4. Jurajda, Stepan & Münich, Daniel, 2006. "Admission to Selective Schools, Alphabetically," CEPR Discussion Papers 5427, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Mark Armstrong & John Vickers & Jidong Zhou, 2008. "Prominence and Consumer Search," Economics Series Working Papers 379, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    6. Meer, Jonathan & Rosen, Harvey S., 2011. "The ABCs of charitable solicitation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5-6), pages 363-371, June.
    7. Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "Can We Test for Bias in Scientific Peer-Review?," IZA Discussion Papers 3665, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Efthyvoulou, Georgios, 2008. "Alphabet Economics: The link between names and reputation," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 1266-1285, June.
    9. Berta Esteve-Volart & Manuel F. Bagües, 2009. "Are Women Pawns in the Political Game? Evidence from Elections to the Spanish Senate," Working Papers 2009-30, FEDEA.
    10. Paul Oyer, 2006. "The Macro-Foundations of Microeconomics: Initial Labor Market Conditions and Long-Term Outcomes for Economists," NBER Working Papers 12157, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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