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The Life Cycle of Scholars and Papers in Economics -- the "Citation Death Tax"

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  • Joshua Aizenman
  • Kenneth Kletzer

Abstract

The information content of academic citations is subject to debate. This paper views premature death as a tragic "natural experiment," outlining a methodology identifying the "citation death tax" -- the impact of death of productive economists on the patterns of their citations. We rely on a sample of 428 papers written by 16 well known economists who died well before retirement, during the period of 1975- 97. The news is mixed: for half of the sample, we identify a large and significant "citation death tax" for the average paper written by these scholars. For these authors, the estimated average missing citations per paper attributed to premature death ranges from 40% to 140% (the overall average is about 90%), and the annual costs of lost citations per paper are in the range 3% and 14%. Hence, a paper written ten years before the author’s death avoids a citation cost that varies between 30% and 140%. For the other half of the sample, there is no citation death tax; and for two Nobel Prize-caliber scholars in this second group, Black and Tversky, citations took off overtime, reflecting the growing recognitions of their seminal works.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13891.

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Date of creation: Mar 2008
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Publication status: published as Joshua Aizenman & Kenneth Kletzer, 2011. "The life cycle of scholars and papers in economics - the 'citation death tax'," Applied Economics, Taylor and Francis Journals, vol. 43(27), pages 4135-4148.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13891

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  1. Blank, Rebecca M, 1991. "The Effects of Double-Blind versus Single-Blind Reviewing: Experimental Evidence from The American Economic Review," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1041-67, December.
  2. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta & Oscar Volij, 2002. "The Measurement of Intellectual Influence," Economic theory and game theory 015, Oscar Volij.
  3. David N. Laband & Robert D. Tollison, 2000. "Intellectual Collaboration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 632-661, June.
  4. Sauer, Raymond D, 1988. "Estimates of the Returns to Quality and Coauthorship in Economic Academia," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 855-66, August.
  5. McDowell, John M, 1982. "Obsolescence of Knowledge and Career Publication Profiles: Some Evidence of Differences among Fields in Costs of Interrupted Careers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 752-68, September.
  6. Arthur M. Diamond Jr., 1986. "What is a Citation Worth?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(2), pages 200-215.
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Cited by:
  1. Müller, Harry, 2012. "Die Zitationshäufigkeit als Qualitätsindikator im Rahmen der Forschungsleistungsmessung," Discussion Papers of the Institute for Organisational Economics 1/2012, University of Münster, Institute for Organisational Economics.
  2. Gianfranco Di Vaio & Daniel Waldenström & Jacob Weisdorf, 2009. "Citation Success: Evidence from Economic History Journal Publications," Discussion Papers 10-01, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  3. Müller, Harry & Dilger, Alexander, 2013. "Der Einfluss des Forschungsschwerpunkts auf den Zitationserfolg: Eine empirische Untersuchung anhand der Gesamtpublikationen deutschsprachiger Hochschullehrer für BWL," Discussion Papers of the Institute for Organisational Economics 1/2013, University of Münster, Institute for Organisational Economics.

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