Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

EJW Audio

The voice of Econ Journal Watch

Lawrence H. White, the voice of EJW Audio The host of EJW Audio is Lawrence H. White, a co-editor of EJW and professor of economics at George Mason University.

In each EJW Audio podcast, Professor White and the author of a recent EJW article discuss that article and related issues.

Daniel Sutter on the Near Absence of Math-free Economics Articles

In an EJW article, Daniel Sutter and Rex Pjesky asked “Where Would Adam Smith Publish Today?” Their research shows that an overwhelming share of papers appearing in six leading general journals and four leading field journals are mathematical, with 6% of the papers qualifying as ‘math-free’ by the weakest criterion and only 1.5% by the strongest criterion. Here Sutter talks about the findings, noting that Smith, Keynes, Hayek, and Coase might never have broken through had such conditions held in their time. He suggests that perhaps economics has fallen into a homophily among mathematical researchers, resulting in a narrowing of discourse and methods.

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Clifford Thies on the AEA and Richard T. Ely

The American Economic Association takes pride in celebrating its founder Richard T. Ely. This pride is strange, given the character of Ely’s thought, which is revealed in the EJW article “Richard T. Ely: The Confederate Flag of the AEA?” by Clifford F. Thies and Ryan Daza. In this podcast, Thies explores Ely’s ideas, values, and impact. Thies is the Eldon R. Lindsay Chair of Free Enterprise and Professor of Economics and Finance at Shenandoah University. He is a contributor to six books and author or coauthor of more than six dozen articles in scholarly journals, including “The Shaping of a Future President’s Economic Thought: Richard T. Ely and Woodrow Wilson at ‘The Hopkins’” in The Independent Review (link).

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Henry E. Smith on Property

Henry E. Smith is one of the premier critics of the bundle-of-rights view of property. In this podcast he discusses the nature of property, highlighting the core feature: a presumptive exclusion. He discusses some of the problems with the bundle-of-rights view, highlighting information costs and the forsaking of the core feature of exclusion. Smith is one of nine scholars who contribute to the EJW symposium on the “bundle” view. (Link to his contribution)

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Phil Coelho and Jim McClure on the Market for Lemmas

Phil Coelho and Jim McClure discuss their research published in EJW (Link to Article) and elsewhere showing that top journal papers containing lemmas—intermediate steps in a lengthy proof—are rarely cited by other economists and almost never yield testable propositions. Following Alfred Marshall and Donald F. Gordon, Coelho and McClure argue that longer chains of mathematical reasoning generally have less relevance to understanding real-world economic phenomena.

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Christopher Martin on Adam Smith and Liberal Economics

Drawing on his EJW article, Christopher Martin discusses Emma Rothschild’s influential article “Adam Smith and Conservative Economics,” which treats of a parliamentary debate in 1795-96 as giving rise to two contrasting images of Adam Smith. Martin questions the contrast that Rothschild draws, and recurs to the original debate between William Pitt and Samuel Whitbread, as well as to Smith’s own texts.

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Shirley Svorny on Medical Licensing

Shirley Svorny explains how regulations on the practice of medicine raise costs and restrict access to care. The podcast starts with a discussion of economists’ views on licensing, as summarized in the paper Svorny wrote for EJW, “Licensing Doctors: Do Economists Agree?” (Link to Article)

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Tawni Ferrarini on Advanced Placement Economics

Tawni Ferrarini discusses her paper with James Gwartney and John Morton studying the content of AP® Economics: “Advanced Placement Economics: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Link. The paper and podcast offer constructive criticism for revising the content of the AP Economics materials. Parents, students, and educators involved in AP Economics will profit from the critique.

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