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Theory versus Application: Does Complexity Crowd Out Evidence?

Author

Listed:
  • Philip R. P. Coelho

    () (Department of Economics, Ball State University)

  • James E. McClure

    () (Department of Economics, Ball State University)

Abstract

Donald F. Gordon hypothesized that mathematical complexity in economics is inversely related to operationalism. Here we (i) operationalize Gordon's hypothesis, (ii) test for the significance of trends in complexity for the American Economic Review, Economic Journal, Journal of Political Economy, and Quarterly Journal of Economics, and (iii) test Gordon's hypothesis by conducting analyses of the contents of articles from the American Economic Review (AER), as well as the contents of articles citing the AER articles. The results do not refute the hypothesis that complexity crowds out operationalism in economics. Additionally, the presence of significant, positive trends toward complexity suggests that the magnitude of the crowding out is on the rise in these journals.

Suggested Citation

  • Philip R. P. Coelho & James E. McClure, 2005. "Theory versus Application: Does Complexity Crowd Out Evidence?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 556-565, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:71:3:y:2005:p:556-565
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Brian Dollery & Joel Byrnes & Galia Akimova, 2008. "The Curtailment of Critical Commentary in Australian Economics," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 5(3), pages 349-351, September.
    2. Philip R. P. Coelho & James E. McClure, 2007. "The Market for Lemmas," Working Papers 200702, Ball State University, Department of Economics, revised Apr 2007.
    3. repec:spr:scient:v:103:y:2015:i:1:d:10.1007_s11192-014-1522-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Philip R. P. Coelho & James E. McClure, 2008. "The Market for Lemmas: Evidence That Complex Models Rarely Operate in Our World," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 5(1), pages 78-90, January.
    5. Daniel B. Klein & Pedro Romero, 2007. "Model Building versus Theorizing: The Paucity of Theory in the _Journal of Economic Theory_," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 4(2), pages 241-271, May.
    6. Daniel Sutter & Rex Pjesky, 2007. "Where Would Adam Smith Publish Today? The Near Absence of Math-free Research in Top Journals," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 4(2), pages 230-240, May.
    7. Philip R. P. Coelho & Daniel B. Klein & James E. McClure, 2005. "Rejoinder to Pesendorfer," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 2(1), pages 32-41, April.
    8. Rex J. Pjesky & Daniel Sutter, 2011. "Does the Lack of a Profit Motive Affect Hiring in Academe? Evidence from the Market for Lawyers," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(4), pages 1053-1084, October.
    9. Philip R. P. Coelho & Frederick De Worken-Eley III & James E. McClure, 2005. "Decline in Critical Commentary, 1963–2004," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 2(2), pages 355-361, August.
    10. Lee C. Spector & Courtenay C. Stone, 2010. "Suspicious Estimates of Ex Ante Real Interest Rates: Evidence of Macroeconomic Malpractice?," Working Papers 201010, Ball State University, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2010.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists

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