Academic journal article Economic Inquiry

The Publishing Patterns of Recent Economics Ph.D. Recipients

Academic journal article Economic Inquiry

The Publishing Patterns of Recent Economics Ph.D. Recipients

Article excerpt


We present publication data for recent graduates of 50 economics Ph.D. programs. The data show that publishing output is highly concentrated among graduates of the top programs; the top three programs, for example, generate more than 25% of aggregate publishing output in our sample. We use the data to construct a set of program rankings based on both per capita and aggregate graduate publication and a comparison of faculty performance to graduate performance. The graduate/faculty comparison reveals that programs may be identical in the output of their faculties but starkly different in the output of their graduates. (JEL Al0, A14)


This article examines the publishing patterns of recent graduates from 50 highly regarded economics doctoral programs. The purpose of this study is to inform faculty, university administrators, and prospective and current graduate students who continually seek information concerning the relative performance of economics departments. Most existing studies rank departments by the publication or citation record of their faculty. Such articles provide faculty and administrators with a comparison of institutions based on output measures that may, for example, inform an existing faculty member about the relative strength of her or his colleagues. They may be less informative to other readers, such as prospective graduate students, departments hiring freshly minted Ph.D.'s, and administrators evaluating doctoral programs.

Prospective students, search committees, and administrators are likely to be concerned more with graduate performance than with faculty performance. Although faculty-based rankings are useful, it is not clear that faculty success translates into graduate success. The argument could be made that students benefit from exposure to prolific researchers. Conversely, students may have little contact with faculty whose time is primarily allocated to research and thus, gain little from their experience. To the extent that the former is true across institutions, one would expect rankings based on student output to mimic faculty rankings using the same criterion. To the extent the latter is true, deviation from faculty-based rankings would be expected. Knowing about such deviations would be important both to prospective graduate students and employers.

In this article, we present a number of performance measures based on the publication output of programs' graduates. We record publications in a set of 36 journals through the summer of 1997 for a set of 3,206 students who received their degrees from 50 graduate programs from 1987 to 1992. For each program in our data set, we can provide a fairly comprehensive set of statistics describing the publishing output of its graduates.

The data provide three pieces of information. First, the data allow us to describe general patterns of publication for a large cohort of recent Ph.D.'s in economics. Second, the data yield rankings based on per capita graduate performance for our set of 36 journals and a subset of five top journals. We also present rankings based on aggregate output using both sets of journals. Our results suggest that the inequalities between top programs and lower-ranked programs are pronounced--re so in terms of graduate output than in terms of faculty output. Last, we rank programs based on the relative performance of their graduates to their faculty. We are able to make this comparison because our performance measures are comparable to those used in faculty-based rankings. We find that, even for programs with very similar levels of faculty output, there may be vast differences in graduate output.


Previous departmental rankings vary primarily in the time period examined, the number of departments examined, and the set of journals used. [1] For our purposes, there are two papers that are important to mention. …

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