Diversity and Inclusion in the Economics Profession: Progress and Pitfalls
Friday, Jan. 5, 2024 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM (CST)
- Chair: Stephanie Aaronson, Federal Reserve Board
Impact versus Inclusion in the Economics Profession: Insights from the AEA Papers and Proceedings
AbstractThe economics profession has long been criticized for fostering a culture of elitism and exclusivity. The persistent underrepresentation of women and minorities in its ranks is well documented. Lack of diversity and inclusion is an important problem; research has demonstrated that it constrains the range of economic issues considered and reduces the capacity of groups to consider novel or innovative approaches to research or policy questions. One area where these impacts become evident is in journal publications, which are the primary means for economists to communicate their research findings and contribute to the profession’s body of knowledge. Journal placements and citation counts have significant consequences for authors’ career trajectories, so access to publication opportunities has important effects on the pipeline of economists reaching the upper levels of the profession. This paper examines how publication systems affect the diversity of authorship and research topics that appear in prominent economics journals. We employ a novel dataset of characteristics for all articles published in the AER from 1997-2022, and in the separate AEA P&P journal launched in 2018. We document a number of interesting trends in regular AER and P&P articles, such as increases over time in the average number of co-authors and in the mix of genders. We then focus on the period immediately before and after separation of the P&P into a separate journal. Our analysis shows that the different publication structures and processes for the AER and P&P have an influence on the research topics and citation patterns of published papers, which vary significantly by author attributes. The potential for unintended consequences is concerning, both for the diversity of research questions that economists choose to study and for the diversity of perspectives represented and recognized by publication in flagship economics journals.
Leaky Pipeline, Slippery Ladder: Socioeconomic Background in Academia
AbstractIt is well-documented that women and racial and ethnic minorities face disproportionate barriers to academic advancement. However, socioeconomic status (“SES”) is often overlooked. Little is known about whether or how academic careers differ by socioeconomic background. Recent work by Morgan et al (2022) documents how tenure-track academia in the US is starkly less socioeconomically diverse than the US population. Schultz and Stansbury (2022) further find disciplinary differences, wherein Economics, Mathematics, and Computer Science PhDs in the US have smaller shares of first-generation college students (no parent with a bachelor’s degree) than other disciplines. Our paper builds upon this limited literature to systematically document key stylized facts at important points in academia’s tenure-track pathway, from the undergraduate level to tenure. We use the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates and Survey of Doctorate Recipients to trace individuals from their undergraduate degree, throughout their careers, and across a rich set of career outcomes. We find that academic careers are characterized by two phenomena for lower-SES doctorates: the leaky pipeline and the slippery ladder. The leaky pipeline metaphor, borrowed from the literature on gender in academia, illustrates that at each step of the academic career after the PhD, people from lower SES backgrounds are more likely to leave academia. The slippery ladder metaphor is used to describe our finding that at each step in the academic career, people from lower SES backgrounds who stay in academia are in lower ranked institutions. Both phenomena are present even conditional on fixed effects for academic field and prior institutions, illustrating that SES plays a role not just on entry to an undergraduate or PhD program but throughout the academic career trajectory. We further examine these phenomena by field and compare and combine our SES results with gender and race. Finally, we explore several possible mechanisms.
Citations and Racial Inequality in Economic Research
AbstractWhile the literature on gender inequalities in academic research, particularly in economics, has experienced a significant boom in recent years, there is much less information on racial equality. This article contributes to this nascent literature by investigating racial differences in citations in economics and their determinants. The data originates from the publication records and bibliometric data from more than 200 economic journals. We use algorithmic procedures combined with manually collected data to identify the race of authors and subsequently infer the racial composition of a team. We find that, on average, a team with at least one non-white author experiences a negative citation premium of around 15%. There are, however, substantial heterogeneities among authors depending on the race categories, subfields of economics, papers' methodological setup, and the origin of citations. We document that the racial gap is much more pronounced among blacks, with values exceeding 30%. However, a significant fraction of this gap is explained by variations in the journal of publication. We then restrict ourselves to high-impact journals and still observe a racial gap of 8% for Hispanics, 12% for Asians, and 17% for Blacks. Further, the gap is worst when the authors of the citing article are more prestigious and subsists in subfields where racial minorities are better represented. Next, we analyze the citation networks to observe the influence and level of connections of articles. While we find that articles with racial minorities have fewer direct connections and are less connected to highly connected articles, there is surprisingly no difference when using the Katz centrality measure. In other words, those articles could have been cited but were excluded from the network. Finally, we analyze the effects of localization and specialization in certain subfields and then conclude by discussing our results and the policy implications of our study.
- A1 - General Economics
- J7 - Labor Discrimination