Again from the World Bank, here is a study of that question, with the blog in question being Development Impact. Summary excerpt:
There are large impacts on dissemination of research; significant benefits in terms of the bloggers becoming better known and more respected within the profession; positive spillover effects for the bloggers’ institutions; and some evidence from our experiment that they may influence attitudes and knowledge among their readers. Blogs potentially have many impacts, and we are only measuring some of them, but the evidence we have suggests economics blogs are playing an important role in the profession.
From David McKenzie, there are more quantitative results:
In all three columns we see that, conditional on their RePEc rank, regular blogging is strongly and significantly associated with being more likely to be viewed as a favorite economist. Blogging has the same size impact as being in the top 50 of RePEc rankings for the under 60 economists, and a larger impact for the over 60 economists.
You will find the details and regressions at the link. One obvious question, of course, is how the average returns relate to the marginal returns. If David’s numbers reflect the reality, and I believe they do, why do not more economists blog? I believe it is because they can’t, at least not without embarrassing themselves rather quickly, even if they are smart and very good economists. It’s simply a different set of skills. The underlying cognitive model here still needs to be worked out, but it is not a story of smooth continuity.
By the way, do note his plea at the end:
We would love to hear from readers, bloggers, and policy makers of other examples where blog posts have changed policy – particularly cases which have involved economic analysis, rather than just reporting.
…I am complete burned out, and have been for months. I’ve blogged an average of eight hours a day, seven days a week, for over two years. I’ve only kept going in recent months out of a sense of obligation to keep pushing these issues. But now that lots of other people are saying the exact same thing, it’s time for me to take a break. So I’ll stop blogging for a few months, unless there is some huge news story like QE3, in which case I’ll add a couple posts. Or if someone does a hit job on my marshmallow post, I may need to briefly respond. Otherwise I’m done for now, and will return sometime this summer.
A few points:
1. Read or reread all of his archives.
2. Do not tempt him with mistake-ridden posts on topics such as “South Korean cinematic representations of nominal GDP targeting in the Great Depression.”
3. He will be back (and I’ll let you know when). In the meantime we will all miss him. Hail Scott Sumner!
p.s. Boo Hoo.
He also was buying Haitian art and describing his favorite things Alabama. How so? During the transition to WordPress many of my posts were attributed to him. One of our assistants explains:
The root of the problem was the sheer number of comments you have. After running the importer a few times, we actually hit a computational limit in PHP on 32-bit systems, which caused the errors we’ve seen. After manually manipulating the data, however, we’ve sorted everything out and we won’t be running into this problem again.
The RSS feed has been flushed and is displaying in proper order once again. For some readers, this may take a few more hours to update. For others, depending on how their reader grabs and stores posts, the wonky posts may just have to cycle out.
Sorry again for the technical problems involved with this. I’ve never had problems relating to sheer data size, but I’ve never dealt with something with close to 150,000 unique data points be entered multiple times. ..Pushing the upper bounds of programming languages through sheer blogging volume is pretty admirable.
We are continuing to work out the glitches, thanks for your patience!
That is the name of a new and excellent blog. The writers include Andrew Jason Cohen, Daniel Shapiro, Jacob T. Levy, James Stacey Taylor, Jason Brennan, and Matt Zwolinski. They are all worth reading. Jason Brennan is perhaps not so well known in the blogosphere, but he is already one of the most important classical liberal thinkers in the world and you will be hearing more from him soon. Here is his post on neoclassical liberalism.