Geography of Economic Research and why India is a laggard in eco research?

Chris Blattman points to this interesing paper on where economic research takes place around the world.

Using a database of 76,046 empirical economics papers published between 1985 and 2004 in the top 202 economics journals, the authors report two associations.

First, per-capita research output on a given country increases with the country’s per capita gross domestic product (GDP). Regressions controlling for data availability and quality in the country, indicators of governance and the use of English yield an estimated research-GDP elasticity of 0.37; surprisingly, the United States (US) is not an outlier in the production of empirical research.

Second, papers written about the US are far more likely to be published in the top five economics journals, even after the quality of research has been partially controlled for through fixed-effects for the authors’ institutional affiliations; the estimates suggest that papers on the US are 2.6 percentage points more likely to be published in the top-five journals.

This is a large effect because only 1.5 percent of all papers written about countries other than the US are published in the top-five journals. The authors speculate about the interpretations of these facts, and invite further analysis and additions to the public release of the database that accompanies this paper.

That is why the paper is nicely titled as – US and them: The Geography of Academic Research.

On economic research on India the authors say:

For those particularly interested in China-India comparisons, the last finding is puzzling since India has always produced good economists, now spread over various U.S. institutions, who could arguably contribute to research on the country. Three potential explanations for this puzzle stem from the weakness of this database as an indicator of knowledge production in the all economics sub-disciplines.

First, the database does not include theoretical contributions and many Indian-origin economists work on theoretical questions.

Second, it could be that while ethnic Chinese researchers generally seem to focus almost totally on China, the same is not true of ethnic Indian researchers.

And third, the database does not include research published in journals like Economic and Political Weekly—leading outlet for applied empirical work in the country.

Despite the caveats, it is worth emphasizing that these two weaknesses should not be overused. There could be a real dearth of applied empirical research in India; particularly since the extent of research was quantitatively similar in India and China in 1985, but has steadily increased in China for the last 20 years while it has stagnated in India.

Interesting points. True, India has produced excellent economists based in US univs. And it is from them only we get some good research on India. Adding eco and political weekly would lead to a higher research number but very few good papers.

Overall, I would believe there is a serious dearth of good economic research in the country. Check any University’s economics department, Ivy League’s Working Papers, Think tanks working papers. You may get quantity but quality is not good enough. Even committees based on India hardly point to any references of papers done by India based economists on the topic under discussion.

So, most of the time you have to take  papers based on other economies and see its lessons for India.

One main reason for the dearth of good research is quality of economics phd. Try and apply to a Indian University for a phd in economics . First you end up doing circles of the procvess. Finally when you get through, the program is not good enough. What you need is a revamp of the quality of phd in India. That should get us more economists working on Indian economy.


3 Responses to “Geography of Economic Research and why India is a laggard in eco research?”

  1. Nikhil Says:

    I seriously doubt whether this observation of yours is only restricted to Economics. Rather its more general and prevalent ubiquitously. Revamp we need, we need it everywhere.

  2. Amol Agrawal Says:

    This blog is for eco research so the comments were specific to economics research.
    But yeah you can generalise it for everywhere.

  3. Why europe based economists prefer to study/work in US? « Mostly Economics Says:

    […] US dominates everything when it comes to economics- studying, teaching, research work etc. Even doing research on US economy gives your paper higher chances of being […]

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