Friday, July 6, 2012

Negative productivity consequences of long economics journal review times

Ellison (2002) documents that the time an economics paper spends at one journal between submission and publication has more than doubled over the last thirty or so years. ... Intuitively, one would expect that, ceteris paribus, increased publication lags would make it more difficult for members of recent cohorts to produce as long a curriculum vitae in six years as earlier cohorts. ...

[W]hen we look at the number of AER equivalent papers instead of pages published at the end of six years... we find large and statistically significant drop-offs in productivity over time for graduates of both the top and non-top thirty departments. By this measure for graduates of the top thirty programs, the oldest cohort [1986-88 Ph.D. graduates] is 51% more productive than the middle cohorts [1989-94 graduates] and 72% more productive than then youngest [1995-2000 graduates]. The middle cohorts in turn, are 14% more productive than youngest cohorts.

Thus, unless we believe that recent graduates are fundamentally of poorer quality, the same quality of tenure candidate is significantly less productive today than 10 or 15 years ago.
--John Conley et al., "Incentives and effects of publication lags on life cycle research productivity in economics," on the real reason economists didn't predict the financial crisis