nep-sog New Economics Papers
on Sociology of Economics
Issue of 2007‒05‒12
four papers chosen by
Jonas Holmström
Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration

  1. On the Robustness of Alternative Rankings Methodologies: Australian and New Zealand Economics Departments, 1988-2002 By Sinha, Dipendra; Macri, Joseph; McAleer, Michael
  2. Academic Research, Social Interactions and Economic Growth By Carillo, Maria Rosaria; Papagni, Erasmo
  3. Effects of social interactions on scientists' productivity By Carillo, Maria Rosaria; Papagni, Erasmo; Capitanio, Fabian
  4. Why Study at a Mature Age? An Analysis of the Private Returns to Universtity Education in Australia By Andrew D. Colegrave

  1. By: Sinha, Dipendra; Macri, Joseph; McAleer, Michael
    Abstract: Just as friendly arguments based on an ignorance of facts eventually led to the creation of the definitive Guinness Book of World Records, any argument about university rankings has seemingly been a problem without a solution. To state the obvious, alternative rankings methodologies can and do lead to different rankings. This paper evaluates the robustness of rankings of Australian and New Zealand economics teaching departments for 1988-2002 and 1996-2002 using alternative rankings methodologies, and compares the results with the rankings obtained by Macri and Sinha (2006). In the overall mean rankings for both 1988-2006 and 1996-2002, the University of Melbourne is ranked first, followed by UWA and ANU.
    Keywords: University rankings; Citations; Economics departments; Journal rankings; Alternative methodologies
    JEL: A14
    Date: 2007–02–23
  2. By: Carillo, Maria Rosaria; Papagni, Erasmo
    Abstract: In this paper we investigate the aggregate implications of social interactions for basic research and economic growth. In particular, we focus on the effects of both the size of the scientific community and the strenght of social exchange among researchers on science productivity and uneven growth. Basic research is modelled as a contest which awards a real prize to the winner and nothing to the losers. Agents are endowed with heterogeneous talent and discoveries are uncertain events which depend on the talent and effort of individuals and on their aggregate values. A CES index of the distribution of both talent and effort summarizes the features of the interactions of the scientific community from which increasing returns may derive. According to the model in equilibrium scientists endowed with higher ability put higher effort into their job, which justifies the famous Lotka effect on the skewed distribution of scientific publications. Social interactions among scientists cause increasing returns to the number of scientists and multiple equilibria, among which a poverty trap with zero knowledge production and zero growth may emerge. Since only the most talented agents join the science sector, economic growth depends positively on its size. Sensitivity analysis of the model shows that if the scientific community is made by on average less complementary people and its size is greater than a threshold then in equilibrium this community will be larger and the growth rate greater. The same effects derive both from a stronger influence of the scientific environment on the aggregate probability of success in scientific races and from a higher share of real resources devoted to basic research.
    JEL: Z13 J24 O41
    Date: 2007–05–04
  3. By: Carillo, Maria Rosaria; Papagni, Erasmo; Capitanio, Fabian
    Abstract: Recent economic research has focused on the economic effects of the social environment. In the economic literature, important phenomena are considered, at least in part, as results of the individual's social environment. There is a similar revival of interest among economists who analyse the world of science and basic research. In this case as well, the environment plays a key role in the agent's behaviour. This paper aims to analyse theoretically and empirically the influence of social interactions on scientists' productivity. In this respect, we build a model of a contest in science that provides us with a framework for empirical analysis. The equilibrium solution of the model tells us that a scientist's productivity depends on the social environment in terms of the community size and quality of colleagues. In the econometric analysis we investigate the aggregate importance of this phenomenon through the analysis of data on publications in four scientific fields of seven advanced countries. We find that social interactions among researchers have positive effects on a scientist's productivity and that there is a U-shaped relation between the size of a scientific network and individual productivity. We interpret this result as providing evidence for threshold externalities and increasing returns to scale.
    JEL: Z13
    Date: 2007–04–24
  4. By: Andrew D. Colegrave (Department of Economics, The University of Western Australia)
    Abstract: Using data from the 2001 Australian Census of Population and Housing, this article estimates private rates of return to university education at the bachelor degree level for males and females, and determines the age threshold when studying for university qualifications becomes no longer worthwhile. Employing a methodology analogous to Borland (2002), the results indicate that the rates of return for individuals undertaking three year university degrees at the median commencement age of 19 years are 24.8 per cent for males and 20.6 per cent for females; and that returns continue to outperform share market investments right up until males begin their studies in their late thirties and females, much later, in their mid fifties. This article has important policy implications for the problems associated with skilled-labour shortages and the ageing population. Greater subsidizing of tuition fees and extension of the retirement age are suggested to make the education investment of mature age individuals even more profitable.
    Date: 2006

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