The Economic History of the "American Economic Review": A Century's Explosion of Economics Research
Written in celebration of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the American Economic Review (February 2011), this paper recounts the history of the journal. The recounting has an analytic core that sees the American Economic Association as an organization supplying goods and services to its members, one of which is the AER. Early in its history the AER was a multi-purpose publication with highly disparate content. Over time the economics profession expanded and more economics research was produced, primarily in the form of journal articles. The AER accommodated this shift by allocating more resources to the refereeing and editing process and more space, absolutely and relatively, in the AER to research papers. Historically, the latter was accomplished mostly by moving other content (for example, book reviews) out most of which the AEA continued to supply elsewhere. Despite these shifts, the ratio of papers published in the AER to those submitted - a proxy for the acceptance rate - has declined precipitously over the past half-century.
I thank Lee P. Breckenridge and David Laband for assistance in assembling research materials, and Stan Engerman, George Borts, Kevin Lang, Robert Moffitt, Daniele Paserman, Marc Rysman, and John Siegfried for useful comments. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
“The Economic History of the American Economic Review : A Century’s Explosion of Econ omics Research,” American Economic Review 101 (February 2011): 9 - 35. citation courtesy of