nep-hpe New Economics Papers
on History and Philosophy of Economics
Issue of 2007‒08‒18
four papers chosen by
Erik Thomson
University of Chicago

  1. The Political Opinions of Swedish Social Scientists By Jordahl, Henrik; Berggren, Niclas; Stern, Charlotta
  2. The Weak Link Theory of Economic Development By Charles I. Jones
  3. Did the Decline in Social Capital Decrease American Happiness? A Relational Explanation of the Happiness Paradox By Stefano Bartolini; Ennio Bilancini; Maurizio Pugno

  1. By: Jordahl, Henrik (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)); Berggren, Niclas (Ratio); Stern, Charlotta (Swedish Institute of Social Research (SOFI))
    Abstract: We study the political opinions of Swedish social scientists in seven disciplines. A survey was sent to 4,301 academics at 25 colleges and universities, which makes the coverage of the disciplines included more or less comprehensive. When it comes to party sympathies there are 1.3 academics on the right for each academic on the left – a sharp contrast to the situation in the United States, where Democrats greatly dominate the social sciences. The corresponding ratio for Swedish citizens in general is 1.1. The most left-leaning disciplines are sociology and gender studies, the most right-leaning ones are business administration, economics, and law, with political science and economic history somewhere in between. The differences between the disciplines are smaller in Sweden than in the more polarized U.S. We also asked 14 policy questions. The replies largely confirm the pattern of a left-right divide – but overall the desire to change the status quo is tepid.
    Keywords: Academics; Social Scientists; Policy Views; Political Opinions; Party Sympathies
    JEL: A11 A13 A14
    Date: 2007–08–08
  2. By: Charles I. Jones (University of California, Berkeley)
    Abstract: Per capita income in the richest countries of the world exceeds that in the poorest countries by more than a factor of 50. What explains these enormous differences? This paper returns to an old idea in development economics and proposes that complementarity and linkages are at the heart of the explanation. Just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, problems at any point in a production chain can reduce output substantially if inputs enter production in a complementary fashion. This paper builds a model with complementary inputs and links across sectors and shows that it can easily generate 50-fold aggregate income differences from plausible distributions of productivity in the underlying sectors.
    Date: 2007–02
  3. By: Stefano Bartolini; Ennio Bilancini; Maurizio Pugno
    Abstract: Most popular explanations of the happiness paradox cannot fully account for the lack of growth in U.S. reported well-being during the last thirty years (Blanchflower and Oswald (2004)). In this paper we test an alternative hypothesis, namely that the decline in U.S. social capital is responsible for what is left unexplained by previous research. We provide three main findings. First, we show that the inclusion of social capital does improve the account of reported happiness. Second, we provide evidence of a decline in social capital indicators for the period 1975-2004, confirming Putnam's claim (Putnam (2000)). Finally, we show that failed growth of happiness is largely due to the decline of social capital and, in particular, to the decline of its relational and intrinsically motivated component.
    Keywords: happiness, social capital, economic growth, relational goods, instrinsic motivations
    JEL: I3 O1
    Date: 2007–08
  4. By: Richard S.J. Tol (Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin, Ireland)
    Abstract: The Matthew effect has that often-cited papers/authors are cited more often. I use the statistical theory of the growth of firms to test whether the fame of papers and authors indeed exhibits increasing returns to scale, and confirm this hypothesis for the 100 most prolific economists.
    Keywords: Matthew effect, increasing returns to scale, citation analysis
    JEL: A10
    Date: 2007–08

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