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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 a subject to debate. This article views premature death as a tragic 'natural experiment', outlining a methodology identifying the 'citation death tax' - the impact of the 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 1975 to 1997. 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 3-14%. Hence, a paper written 10 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-calibre scholars in this second group, Black and Tversky, citations took off over time, reflecting the growing recognitions of their seminal works.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua Aizenman & Kenneth Kletzer, 2011. "The life cycle of scholars and papers in economics - the 'citation death tax'," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(27), pages 4135-4148.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:43:y:2011:i:27:p:4135-4148
    DOI: 10.1080/00036846.2010.485930
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David N. Laband & Robert D. Tollison, 2000. "Intellectual Collaboration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 632-661, June.
    2. 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 855-866, August.
    3. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta & Oscar Volij, 2004. "The Measurement of Intellectual Influence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(3), pages 963-977, May.
    4. 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 1041-1067, December.
    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 752-768, 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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    Citations

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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. Di Vaio, Gianfranco & Waldenström, Daniel & Weisdorf, Jacob, 2012. "Citation success: Evidence from economic history journal publications," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 92-104.
    3. repec:aea:jeclit:v:56:y:2018:i:1:p:115-56 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Carillo, Maria Rosaria & Papagni, Erasmo, 2014. "“Little Science” and “Big Science”: The institution of “Open Science” as a cause of scientific and economic inequalities among countries," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 42-56.
    5. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2015. "Citations in Economics: Measurement, Uses and Impacts," NBER Working Papers 21754, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. 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.
    7. Wang, Jian, 2014. "Unpacking the Matthew effect in citations," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 329-339.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology
    • B54 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Feminist Economics
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation

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