Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 28 No. 3 (Summer 2014)


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Page Limits on Economics Articles: Evidence from Two Journals

Article Citation

Card, David, and Stefano DellaVigna. 2014. "Page Limits on Economics Articles: Evidence from Two Journals." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 28(3): 149-68.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.28.3.149


Over the past four decades the median length of the papers published in the "top five" economic journals has grown by nearly 300 percent. We study the effects of a page limit policy introduced by the American Economic Review (AER) in mid-2008 and subsequently adopted by the Journal of the European Economic Association (JEEA) in 2009. We find that the imposition of a 40-page limit on submissions led to no change in the flow of new papers to the AER. Instead, authors responded by shortening and reformatting their papers. For JEEA, in contrast, we conclude that the page-limit policy led authors of longer papers to submit to other journals. These results imply that the AER has substantial monopoly power over submissions, while JEEA faces a very competitive market. Evidence from both journals, and from citations to published papers in the top journals, suggests that longer papers are of higher quality than shorter papers, so the loss of longer submissions at JEEA may have led to a drop in quality. Despite a modest impact of the AER's policy on the average length of submissions, the policy had little or no effect on the length of final accepted manuscripts.

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Card, David (U CA, Berkeley)
DellaVigna, Stefano (U CA, Berkeley)

JEL Classifications

A14: Sociology of Economics


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