Riccardo Faini CEIS Seminars

The Long Term Evolution of Economic History: Evidence From The Top Five Field Journals (1927-2017)
March, 22nd 2019 (12:00-13:30)
Room B - 1st floor

Michelangelo Vasta (Università di Siena)

Riccardo Faini CEIS Seminars 

joint with Martina Cioni and Giovanni Federico

The growing appeal of the long run perspective among economists and the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the Conrad and Meyer article (1958), which marked the official beginning of the Cliometric Revolution, have attracted a lot of interest on the recent evolution of Economic history. This paper explores its origin and development by focusing on five journals (Economic History Review, Journal of Economic History, Explorations in Economic History, European Review of Economic History and Cliometrica). We first confirm with citation data the conventional wisdom about their prominent role in the field and we show that they have wide influence also outside it. Then we analyze systematically all the 6516 articles published in these journals from their establishment to 2017. The evolution of the filed has been at the same time more gradual and more deep than conventionally assumed. The number of articles has gradually increased with the establishment of new journals and the growing size of the existing ones. The popularity of different topics waxed and waned somewhat, but only few disappeared altogether. The distribution by historical period shifted towards the 19th and early 20th century, but the proportion of comparative articles did not increase substantially. The Cliometric Revolution took quite a long time to fully display its effects, which became evident only in the 1990s, when personal computers and software packages became available. On the other hand, authorship changed a lot in the last twenty years. Economic history has become a much more international and collaborative pursuit, although still limited to advanced countries. The share of co-authored papers increased up to a half, and a growing number of these collaborations involve authors from different countries. The share of article by authors from Continental Europe has increased very substantially, while that of North American had sharply declined. This change may be the harbinger of a new divergence between the two shores of the Atlantic, possibly related to the rise of a new paradigm, but it is too early to tell.