Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

Mapping Macroeconomics – An interactive platform for the exploration of inter-specialties relationships in macroeconomics (1969-2015) - special session on “Quantitative Histories of Economics”.

Goutsmedt Aurélien, UCLouvain
Goutsmedt Aurélien, UCLouvain
Truc Alexandre, Université Nice Cote d'Azur - CNRS

Economics has been characterized since the 1970s by an exponential increase in the number of articles published in academic journals. This phenomenon makes it harder for historians of economics to properly assess the trends in the transformation of economics, the main topics researched, the most influential authors and ideas, etc. As a result, historians of this period run the risk of relying, at least as first pass, on a presentist view of the history of ideas: what today’s economists consider as important contributions from the past and the most influential authors. When historians shield themselves from the retrospective views of the practising economists, they have to delve into the literature of the past that has been forgotten for the most part and to scrutinize the network of authors that are little known. This effort allows historians to correct the potted histories of the practising economists and to propose alternative narratives of the evolution of the discipline. However, the bigger the literature to be studied, the harder the historians’ capacity to grasp the overall picture of the time. We consider that quantitative methods can help historians to confront this challenge. Our project, supported by the History of Economics Society New Initiative Funds, aims at developing a quantitative tool to map the evolution of macroeconomics from 1969 to 2015. In that perspective, we are building an online interactive platform displaying bibliometric data on a large set of macroeconomics articles. From a list of macroeconomics articles identified by JEL codes, we build bibliographic coupling networks (i.e., a network that links together articles sharing similar bibliographies) to assess the communities that have shaped macroeconomics history at different periods. The communities are identified algorithmically and a set of analyses are produced to interpret what these communities are about. The platform offers a variety of tools that researchers can use for their own research. Users can explore individual networks covering 5 years overlapping windows and study in fine detail how individual articles of a given time period relate to each other. For each period, it is possible to explore the different communities, which are the main authors or the references they are citing. Using our search engine, it is possible to investigate the position of particular authors, articles, and journals, as well as to search for concepts (like Rational Expectations or sunspots). Finally, using the communities we identified, users can investigate the specialties and topics of macroeconomics (e.g., international macroeconomics, disequilibrium theory, real business cycles models…).


Keywords: Bibliometrics; Macroeconomics; Quantitative methods