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Race-related Research in Economics

  • Series
  • Speaker(s)
    Imran Rasul (University College London, United Kingdom)
  • Field
    Empirical Microeconomics
  • Location
    Erasmus University Rotterdam, Campus Woudestein, Polak 3-14
  • Date and time

    September 11, 2023
    11:30 - 12:30

Abstract: Issues of racial justice and persistent economic inequalities across racial and ethnic groups have risen to the top of public debate. The ability of academic economists to contribute to these debates in part depends on the production of race-related research in the profession. We study the issue combining information on a corpus of 250,000 publications in economics from 1960 to 2020 on which we use an algorithmic approach to classify race-related publications, constructing paths to publication for 22,000 NBER working papers between 1974 and 2015, and constructing the career profile of publications of 2800 economics faculty in US economics departments active in 2020/1. We present four new stylized facts on race-related research in economics. First, since 1960 less than 2% of publications in economics have been race related, with an uptick in such work since 2000. This represents a cumulative body of knowledge of 3801 race-related publications in economics since 1960. Second, the publications process provides little disincentive to produce race-related research: such work has similar or better publication outcomes as non race-related research. Third, Black faculty are significantly more likely to publish race-related work, especially as a first publication. However, citations per paper/year and H-indices are significantly lower for minority faculty as a whole. However, the citation penalty for minority faculty is not different between race-related publications and their other areas of research. Fourth, over later stages of the career life cycle, minority faculty become less likely to work on race-related topics. The timing of this change coincides with their career progression up the ranking of US academic departments. We draw together policy implications for the profession related to innovative areas of race-related research that economists can engage in, and processes to improve the selection and retention of minority faculty. Joint paper with Arun Advani (Warwick), Elliott Ash (UZH), Anton Boltachka (UZH) and David Cai (LSE).