Organizing The Economics Academy: The Evolution Of Professional Economics Associations, 1777-2000
Scholarly societies in economics (and many other professions) are clubs that provide members with a range of club goods, many of which have broader and economically significant spillover consequences for society at large. Yet surprisingly little is known about the historical evolution or current composition of these associations. This analysis of the development of professional economics societies worldwide provides perspectives on the evolution of the economics research industry they serve. Although the origins of current economic associations can be traced at least as far back as 1777, almost all of the growth in professional economics associations has been concentrated in the past 125 years and especially between 1945 and 2000. At the beginning of the 20th century almost all economic associations were general economics societies. The fractionalization of the profession, leading to a proliferation of associations with sub-disciplinary focus began in 1920 and accelerated after 1960. By 2000, almost two thirds of all economic associations served sub-disciplines ranging from law and economics through fisheries economics to public choice and game theory. There are comparatively few economic associations in the poorest parts of the world that are often most in need of the public goods economists can provide.
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