Thursday, October 12, 2006

statistic of the day

From Donald MacKenzie's An Engine, Not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets:
"In 1951, just over 2 percent of the pages ... the American Economic Review, contained an equation."
BTW, for those who think I only complain about sociology, the MacKenzie book is marvelous. It's a case study of the effect of academic economics on the economy (more specifically, on finance, or more specifically still, on the creation and operation of options markets).

4 comments:

Brayden said...

I'm going to read this one as soon as the librarians finish searching the stacks (which according to my account they've been doing now for 3 days) and delivers it to my office. Hooray for faculty-laziness privileges!

Tom Bozzo said...

JFW readers thinking that the current figure is 100% less the fraction of bibliography pages should be advised that the AER doesn't exactly beat its readers over the head with equations -- it isn't Econometrica.

There are certainly subdisciplines of economics, and I'd venture even sociology, where 2% of pages with equations is suboptimally low.

jeremy said...

Weirdly, even though I retyped it accurately into Blogger, I still thought it referred to articles rather than pages. 2% of pages isn't really surprising the way reading it as 2% of articles astonished me. The % by 1978 was 44% of pages.

Tom Bozzo said...

It may depend on what you count as an "equation" -- I didn't count tables of results from regression analyses in a canvass of the 9/06 AER on my desk -- but the current fashion seems to favor more English in the main text, with equation-dense appendixes deployed where needed -- I'd think (but admittedly wouldn't bet) that 44% would be on the high side for a typical issue now. Also, I'm probably blind to small bits of math inlined with the text, which I didn't count either.