The effects of publication lags on life cycle research productivity in economics

John P. Conley, Mario J. Crucini, Robert A. Driskill, Ali Onder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigate how increases in publication delays have affected the life cycle of publications of recent Ph.D. graduates in economics. We construct a panel dataset of 14,271 individuals who were awarded Ph.D.s between 1986 and 2000 in U.S. and Canadian economics departments. For this population of scholars, we amass complete records of publications in peer-reviewed journals listed in the JEL (a total of 368,672 observations). We find evidence of significantly diminished productivity in recent relative to earlier cohorts when productivity of an individual is measured by the number of AER-equivalent publications. Diminished productivity is less evident when the number of AER-equivalent pages is used instead. Our findings are consistent with earlier empirical findings of increasing editorial delays, decreasing acceptance rates at journals, and a trend toward longer manuscripts. This decline in productivity is evident in both graduates of top 30 and non-top 30 ranked economics departments and may have important implications for what should constitute a tenurable record. We also find that the research rankings of top economics departments are a surprisingly poor predictor of the subsequent research rankings of their Ph.D.s graduates. (JEL A11, J24, J29, J44)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1251-1276
JournalEconomic Inquiry
Issue number2
Early online date4 Jul 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2013


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