May 05, 2006
ALEA Report: Trends
Posted by Fred Tung

In addition to lots of corporate papers, the trend at ALEA seems to be--based on my casual empiricism after the first day--away from pure math papers and more toward empirical and experimental (surprise, surprise!).  I saw lots of regressions and a few experiments, a few theory papers with a little math, but no presentations with just equations, which seems a contrast from my past ALEAs.  At the end of the day, I had a conversation with Dean Lueck from Arizona.  He observed that more and more law and economics is being done in law schools, as opposed to economics departments, as JD/PhDs become more common and seem now more likely to wind up in law schools.  And economics departments seem to be ceding the territory--and the recruiting of law and econ scholars--to the law schools.  He suggested--and this must be right--that this changes the way law and economics is done.  The institutional pressures, constraints, and expectations must be different as between law schools and econ departments.  The work product is now generally more heavily influenced by law school norms, customs, and expectations than those of econ departments.  Perhaps this explains the change in emphasis--if I have correctly identified one--at ALEA.

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Comments (4)

1. Posted by Isaac on May 7, 2006 @ 9:49 | Permalink

It's also true that with the decrease in the cost of computing power economics as a discipline has taken an empirical turn. So I'm not sure if what you're witnessing has anything to do with the influence of law schools; perhaps it has much more to do with broader trends in economics.

Then again, if the empirical work involves more than regressions and includes (gasp!) institutional detail or history, then this might reflect the humanizing influence of law schools.


2. Posted by Fred Tung on May 8, 2006 @ 9:24 | Permalink

I-forget-who made the observation that regressions are a free good in this new world of computing power. That must certainly influence the empirical turn. OTOH, the scarcity of pure modeling papers was very different from my past ALEAs. I think it may be easier for us law types to pass as empiricists, but my sense is that the pure modelers are typically from finance and economics departments. So there may be a couple of different things going on there.


3. Posted by Gordon Smith on May 8, 2006 @ 14:19 | Permalink

One of my friends in finance -- who loves modeling, by the way -- recently told me that he is becoming an empiricist because the payoffs from modeling are diminishing. He felt this was a general trend in finance.


4. Posted by Mike Guttentag on May 8, 2006 @ 16:27 | Permalink

It is also true that it is becoming increasingly difficult to place a pure theory piece in a top finance journal.

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