Working Paper

The path of economics research production: Insights into the seesaw between theory and empirics


  • Faria
  • J.R.
  • Goel
  • R.
  • Manage
  • N.D.
Publication Date

This paper provides insights into the apparent seesaw between the generation of theoretical versus empirical economics research over time. A dynamic model considers the incentives of researchers to focus on empirical versus theoretical papers. It yields the main characteristics of the path-changing of economics research, from theoretical-intensive to empirical-focused. The model has two equilibria, one with a higher proportion of theoretical papers and another with a higher proportion of empirical papers. Curiously, the equilibrium with greater theoretical papers is stable, while the one with more empirical papers is a saddle point. This suggests that the current trend of increasing empirical research is unlikely to last.

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JEL Classification
A11, A19

Key Words

  • economic research
  • empirics
  • journals
  • publications
  • theory