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A Citation-Based Test for Discrimination at Economics and Finance Journals

Author

Listed:
  • Scott Smart
  • Joel Waldfogel

Abstract

Discrimination is notoriously difficult to document. Convincing tests for discrimination require good measures of the legitimate determinants of the outcome of interest, for example wages and productivity. While few contexts provide data adequate to the task of measuring discrimination, copious bibliographic data on the impact of academic research make possible tests of discrimination in the editorial process. This study develops a test for possible bias þ with respect to author gender, prestige of author's institution, article content (theory vs. empiricism), and whether the author has ties to the editor þ using a new approach based on an analysis of citations. We treat citations as a measure of article quality and ask whether papers by certain groups receive systematically different numbers of citations. The key to our approach is the observation that editors do not simply accept or reject papers. For accepted papers, editors determine articles' order within journal issue and length based on their quality assessments. We show that these 'editorial treatment' decisions are highly correlated with citations. Thus, we infer bias against a particular group of authors if their published articles have more citations, conditional editorial treatment, than other articles. Surprisingly, we document systematic editorial bias in favor of authors located outside of top institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Scott Smart & Joel Waldfogel, 1996. "A Citation-Based Test for Discrimination at Economics and Finance Journals," NBER Working Papers 5460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5460
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Becker, Gary S, 1993. "Nobel Lecture: The Economic Way of Looking at Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 385-409, June.
    2. Judith K. Hellerstein & David Neumark, 1995. "Are Earnings Profiles Steeper Than Productivity Profiles? Evidence from Israeli Firm-Level Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 89-112.
    3. Ferguson, Michael F & Peters, Stephen R, 1995. "What Constitutes Evidence of Discrimination in Lending?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(2), pages 739-748, June.
    4. Laband, David N & Piette, Michael J, 1994. "Favoritism versus Search for Good Papers: Empirical Evidence Regarding the Behavior of Journal Editors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(1), pages 194-203, February.
    5. Lawrence M. Kahn, 1991. "Discrimination in Professional Sports: A Survey of the Literature," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 44(3), pages 395-418, April.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. S. Stremersch & I. Verniers & C. Verhoef, 2006. "The Quest for Citations: Drivers of Article Impact," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 06/422, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
    2. Ma, Chao & Li, Yiwei & Guo, Feng & Si, Kao, 2019. "The citation trap: Papers published at year-end receive systematically fewer citations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 667-687.
    3. Andrew J. Oswald, 2010. "A suggested method for the measurement of world-leading research (illustrated with data on economics)," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 84(1), pages 99-113, July.
    4. Tim Simcoe & David Waguespack & Lee Fleming, 2008. "What's in a (Missing) Name? Status and Signaling in Open Standards Development," Working Papers 08-31, NET Institute, revised Oct 2008.
    5. Dragan Ilić, 2013. "Marginally discriminated: the role of outcome tests in European jurisdiction," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 271-294, October.
    6. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2018. "Citations in Economics: Measurement, Uses, and Impacts," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 56(1), pages 115-156, March.
    7. John Knowles & Nicola Persico & Petra Todd, 2001. "Racial Bias in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(1), pages 203-232, February.
    8. Hendrik P. van Dalen & Kene Henkens, 2000. "What makes a Scientific Article influential?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 00-032/1, Tinbergen Institute.
    9. Michel E. Philip, 2004. "Doctrines économiques, législation et discrimination.... Mais de quelle discrimination parlons nous ?," Innovations, De Boeck Université, vol. 20(2), pages 179-192.
    10. Arjo Klamer & Hendrik van Dalen, 2001. "Attention and the art of scientific publishing," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(3), pages 289-315.
    11. Song Han, 2004. "Discrimination in Lending: Theory and Evidence," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 5-46, July.
    12. Frances Woolley, 2005. "The Citation Impact Of Feminist Economics," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(3), pages 85-106.
    13. Oswald, Andrew J., 2009. "World-Leading Research and its Measurement," Economic Research Papers 271312, University of Warwick - Department of Economics.
    14. Lutz Bornmann & Hans-Dieter Daniel, 2010. "Do Author-Suggested Reviewers Rate Submissions More Favorably than Editor-Suggested Reviewers? A Study on Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 5(10), pages 1-8, October.
    15. David Card & Stefano DellaVigna, 2020. "What Do Editors Maximize? Evidence from Four Economics Journals," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 102(1), pages 195-217, March.
    16. Tom Coupé & Victor Ginsburgh & Abdul Noury, 2010. "Are leading papers of better quality? Evidence from a natural experiment," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(1), pages 1-11, January.
    17. Hendrik P. Van Dalen & Kène Henkens, 2001. "What makes a scientific article influential? The case of demographers," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 50(3), pages 455-482, March.
    18. Luis Aguiar Wicht & Joel Waldfogel & Sarah Waldfogel, 2018. "Playlisting Favorites: Is Spotify Gender-Biased?," JRC Working Papers on Digital Economy 2018-07, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    19. Philip R P Coelho & James E McClure & Peter J Reilly, 2014. "An Investigation of Editorial Favoritism in the AER," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 274-281, March.
    20. Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "Can We Test for Bias in Scientific Peer-Review?," IZA Discussion Papers 3665, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    21. Meyer, Matthias & Waldkirch, Rüdiger W. & Duscher, Irina & Just, Alexander, 2018. "Drivers of citations: An analysis of publications in “top” accounting journals," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 24-46.
    22. Oswald, Andrew J., 2015. "The Objective Measurement of World-Leading Research," IZA Discussion Papers 8829, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • K31 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Labor Law

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