The half-life of an economics book

9.38 years, measured in terms of citations over time.

That is from the new and excellent book by Samuel Arbesman, The Half-Life of Facts:Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date.

Comments

Half life of an economics e-book:

6 months.

Scientometrics......I´d use to call it philosophy of science.

Every day I'm getting closer to believe that "order" and "regularity" just exist inside our minds, the world is just a mess. Still, i want to read this book.

The half life of a truth in psychology is 18 months, according to Marvin Minsky. Don't believe that's based on any actual measurement, though.

Half-life of the average journal article in economics is zero. They are never cited. Indeed, most economic journal articles as still-born and contribute nothing the body of science.

Dead things don't have half-lives.

The half-life of an economics text book is half a semester. The next edition is released just in time to become required for the next semester's class.

It doesn't seem particularly interesting to look at citations of economics books. The bibliographies of most economics articles (and books) are dominated by citations of articles, not of books.

And half-life might not be an appropriate measure. Some ideas -- and citations of the articles proclaiming those ideas -- have a non-monotonic diffusion pattern. That is, they may get ignored (or disbelieved) for awhile, then gain traction and rise in popularity, and then decline. I don't have citation data, but it's easy to think of all sorts of ideas which attracted little notice initially, only to become popular years later: Muth on rational expectations models, Wu on specification tests, etc.

Economics books may very well have a simpler monotonic citation pattern; they tend to be written to review or summarize existing research rather than to present new groundbreaking ideas. Even if they do contain a groundbreaking idea, it was usually previously published in one or more articles, and has already become at least a little familiar by the time the book comes out.

I am totally agree with your thoughts. Keep doing these type of work.

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