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The Economic History of the American Economic Review : A Century's Explosion of Economics Research

  • Robert A. Margo

Written in celebration of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the American Economic Review (February 2011), this paper recounts the history of the journal. The recounting has an analytic core that sees the American Economic Association as an organization supplying goods and services to its members, one of which is the AER. Early in its history the AER was a multi-purpose publication with highly disparate content. Over time the economics profession expanded and more economics research was produced, primarily in the form of journal articles. The AER accommodated this shift by allocating more resources to the refereeing and editing process and more space, absolutely and relatively, in the AER to research papers. Historically, the latter was accomplished mostly by moving other content (for example, book reviews) out most of which the AEA continued to supply elsewhere. Despite these shifts, the ratio of papers published in the AER to those submitted - a proxy for the acceptance rate - has declined precipitously over the past half-century.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16274.

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Date of creation: Aug 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as “The Economic History of the American Economic Review : A Century’s Explosion of Econ omics Research,” American Economic Review 101 (February 2011): 9 - 35.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16274
Note: DAE
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  1. John J. Siegfried, 2006. "Report of the Treasurer," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 493-496, May.
  2. Aditi Mehta & Marc Rysman & Tim Simcoe, 2006. "Identifying the Age Profile of Patent Citations," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2006-022, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  3. Joshua S. Gans & George B. Shepherd, 1994. "How Are the Mighty Fallen: Rejected Classic Articles by Leading Economists," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 165-179, Winter.
  4. Ofer H. Azar, 2005. "The Review Process in Economics: Is It Too Fast?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 72(2), pages 482–491, October.
  5. Bogart, Dan, 2009. "Nationalizations and the Development of Transport Systems: Cross-Country Evidence from Railroad Networks, 1860–1912," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(01), pages 202-237, March.
  6. Coats, A W, 1969. "The American Economic Association's Publications: An Historical Perspective," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 57-68, March.
  7. Laband, David N & Piette, Michael J, 1994. "The Relative Impacts of Economics Journals: 1970-1990," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(2), pages 640-66, June.
  8. David N. Laband & Robert D. Tollison, 2003. "Dry Holes in Economic Research," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(2), pages 161-173, 05.
  9. Engers, Maxim & Gans, Joshua S, 1998. "Why Referees Are Not Paid (Enough)," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1341-49, December.
  10. 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.
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