What are the top economics journals?

Here is one recent ranking, courtesy of Newmark’s Door.  My view is simple.  The American Economic Review and Journal of Political Economy are the two most important journals.  The former will have more pieces with careful testing and design, but the latter has more conceptually important articles.  I find the JPE more enjoyable.  The Quarterly Journal of Economics has brilliant pieces which can tend toward the unsound or have imperfect execution.  Econometrica, while it remains a clear third or fourth in rank, is less important than it used to be, perhaps because pure theory has declined in influence.  For this same reason, the Rand Journal and Review of Economic Studies, while both still very good journals, have lost their previous luster.  Journal of Economic Theory mattered in the 1970s, but it has fallen off a cliff.  After that you have the top field journals, which of course vary by field.  Journal of Economic Perspectives and Journal of Economic Literature serve important functions, and are both fun and instructive to read, but they are rarely venues for presenting new ideas.  They report how new ideas have been interpreted and digested.

Science journals, especially Nature, are starting to become more important for economics.  My favorite field journal is the Journal of Law and EconomicsJournal of Finance is of very high quality, though finance is a world unto itself.  The relative returns to the top few journals have risen greatly in the last fifteen years; many more schools require publications in those journals for tenure than before.


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