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The Place of the History of Economic Thought in Mainstream Economics, 1991-2011

journal_of-the-history-of-economic-thoughtThis paper, written with my friend Pedro Duarte, offers a bibliographic survey of the literature in the history of economic thought (HET) in eight major economics journals, using the JEL classification to retrieve and analyze the relevant literature. Our study shows that, though contributions to HET are still found in top economics journals, the rate of publication of such papers has become increasingly uneven, and the methods and narrative styles they adopt are remote from those used by historians of economics. We show that the widespread idea that historians should address current economists by using their (mostly mathematical) tools and techniques is hardly present in mainstream journals, and discuss the role of editors and editorial boards of the different journals we survey in shaping these changes over time. We conclude that historians should focus on doing good work on their own, rather than try to figure out what the economists’ preferences are, and undertake research accordingly.

Footnote 1/ The articles comes with supplementary materials (a new feature of JHET).

Footnote 2/ The title is a tribute to Roger Backhouse’s excellent paper “The Transformation of U.S. Economics, 1920–1960, Viewed through a Survey of Journal Articles.”