Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

A bird’s eye view of recent economic thought in comparative perspective

D'Ippoliti Carlo, Sapienza University of Rome
Zacchia Giulia, Sapienza University of Rome
Gobbi Lucio, University of Trento

We contribute to the bourgeoning literature applying quantitative methods to empirically study main trends in recent economics. We consider the case of all UK-based economists since the 1980s, aiming at mapping the British economics debate in the last half century, and we compare this population with US- and Italy-based economists. We use data from RePEc, the largest online repository of economics papers, currently containing information on more than 3 millions works and more than 50,000 individuals. Among these, we select all researchers that have at least one institutional affiliation respectively in the UK, Italy, or the USA, in at least one year between 1980 and 2019. We compare networks of economists over time, considering both their scientific connections, in terms of citations, co-authorships, and topics and methods of research; and their social and professional connections, in terms of shared institutional affiliations, writing on the same journals, and serving as editorial board members or referees. Our analysis focuses on highlighting the overlap between these different networks, and comparing their evolution over time. A comparative perspective among the three countries is especially interesting for the different geography of the economics debate there, being markedly more homogeneous in terms of a dominant scientific paradigm in the USA, more polarized/diversified in Italy, and in an intermediate position in the UK. Our analysis, therefore, tries to provide clues as to the ability of network analysis to illustrate the divisions among schools of thought in the different countries.

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Keywords: economists, recent economic thought, social network