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Are returns to research quality lower in agricultural economics than in economics?


  • Gibson, John
  • Burton-McKenzie, Ethan


We compare effects of research quality and quantity on the salary of academics in agricultural economics and economics departments of the same universities. Agricultural economists get a significantly lower payoff to research quality, whether measured by quality-weighted journal articles (based on nine different weighting schemes) or by citations. Instead, salary depends on the quantity of journal articles, while article counts have no independent effect on economist salaries. These differences in the reward structure for research are not due to either the extension focus of agricultural economists or to disciplinary differences in publishing with students and instead may reflect institutional factors that govern incentives within universities. One-third of academics in the agricultural economics departments studied here have doctoral training in economics; the very different disciplinary reward structures may cause frustration for these faculty due to the muted returns to research quality that agricultural economics departments seem to offer.

Suggested Citation

  • Gibson, John & Burton-McKenzie, Ethan, 2017. "Are returns to research quality lower in agricultural economics than in economics?," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 61(3), July.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aareaj:313548
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.313548

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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Looking for a Faculty Position? Agricultural Economics vs Economics
      by Jayson Lusk in Jason Lusk on 2020-01-02 22:17:10


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    Cited by:

    1. Frode Eika Sandnes, 2018. "Do Norwegian academics who publish more earn higher salaries?," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 115(1), pages 263-281, April.
    2. Christiana E. Hilmer & Michael J. Hilmer, 2022. "Insights from a decade in the life of public Ph.D.‐granting agricultural economics departments," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 44(4), pages 2049-2063, December.
    3. John Davis, 2018. "Communicating Economic Concepts and Research in a Challenging Environment," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(3), pages 591-605, September.
    4. Jiao, Yang & Qi, Li & Chen, Zhuo, 2023. "Academic profile of Chinese economists: Productivity, pay, time use, gender differences, and impacts of COVID-19," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 81(C).
    5. Asadi, Hormoz & Zamanian, Gholamreza & Tash, Mohammad Nabi Shahiki & Ghorbani, Mohammad & Kamali, Mohammad Reza Jalal, 2017. "An Economic Analysis of Wheat Breeding Programs for Some Iranian Irrigated Bread Wheat Varieties," Agricultural Economics Review, Greek Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 0(Issue 1), January.
    6. Syed Hasan & Robert Breunig, 2021. "Article length and citation outcomes," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 126(9), pages 7583-7608, September.
    7. John Gibson, 2021. "The micro‐geography of academic research: How distinctive is economics?," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 68(4), pages 467-484, September.

    More about this item


    Research Methods/ Statistical Methods;

    JEL classification:

    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations
    • Q00 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - General


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