Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Phil Coelho and Jim McClure on the Market for Lemmas

Phil Coelho and Jim McClure discuss their research published in EJW 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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