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Writing a Research Paper Conclusion | Step-by-Step Guide

Published on October 30, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on April 13, 2023.

  • Restate the problem statement addressed in the paper
  • Summarize your overall arguments or findings
  • Suggest the key takeaways from your paper

Research paper conclusion

The content of the conclusion varies depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or constructs an argument through engagement with sources .

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Table of contents

Step 1: restate the problem, step 2: sum up the paper, step 3: discuss the implications, research paper conclusion examples, frequently asked questions about research paper conclusions.

The first task of your conclusion is to remind the reader of your research problem . You will have discussed this problem in depth throughout the body, but now the point is to zoom back out from the details to the bigger picture.

While you are restating a problem you’ve already introduced, you should avoid phrasing it identically to how it appeared in the introduction . Ideally, you’ll find a novel way to circle back to the problem from the more detailed ideas discussed in the body.

For example, an argumentative paper advocating new measures to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture might restate its problem as follows:

Meanwhile, an empirical paper studying the relationship of Instagram use with body image issues might present its problem like this:

“In conclusion …”

Avoid starting your conclusion with phrases like “In conclusion” or “To conclude,” as this can come across as too obvious and make your writing seem unsophisticated. The content and placement of your conclusion should make its function clear without the need for additional signposting.

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economics research paper conclusion

Having zoomed back in on the problem, it’s time to summarize how the body of the paper went about addressing it, and what conclusions this approach led to.

Depending on the nature of your research paper, this might mean restating your thesis and arguments, or summarizing your overall findings.

Argumentative paper: Restate your thesis and arguments

In an argumentative paper, you will have presented a thesis statement in your introduction, expressing the overall claim your paper argues for. In the conclusion, you should restate the thesis and show how it has been developed through the body of the paper.

Briefly summarize the key arguments made in the body, showing how each of them contributes to proving your thesis. You may also mention any counterarguments you addressed, emphasizing why your thesis holds up against them, particularly if your argument is a controversial one.

Don’t go into the details of your evidence or present new ideas; focus on outlining in broad strokes the argument you have made.

Empirical paper: Summarize your findings

In an empirical paper, this is the time to summarize your key findings. Don’t go into great detail here (you will have presented your in-depth results and discussion already), but do clearly express the answers to the research questions you investigated.

Describe your main findings, even if they weren’t necessarily the ones you expected or hoped for, and explain the overall conclusion they led you to.

Having summed up your key arguments or findings, the conclusion ends by considering the broader implications of your research. This means expressing the key takeaways, practical or theoretical, from your paper—often in the form of a call for action or suggestions for future research.

Argumentative paper: Strong closing statement

An argumentative paper generally ends with a strong closing statement. In the case of a practical argument, make a call for action: What actions do you think should be taken by the people or organizations concerned in response to your argument?

If your topic is more theoretical and unsuitable for a call for action, your closing statement should express the significance of your argument—for example, in proposing a new understanding of a topic or laying the groundwork for future research.

Empirical paper: Future research directions

In a more empirical paper, you can close by either making recommendations for practice (for example, in clinical or policy papers), or suggesting directions for future research.

Whatever the scope of your own research, there will always be room for further investigation of related topics, and you’ll often discover new questions and problems during the research process .

Finish your paper on a forward-looking note by suggesting how you or other researchers might build on this topic in the future and address any limitations of the current paper.

Full examples of research paper conclusions are shown in the tabs below: one for an argumentative paper, the other for an empirical paper.

  • Argumentative paper
  • Empirical paper

While the role of cattle in climate change is by now common knowledge, countries like the Netherlands continually fail to confront this issue with the urgency it deserves. The evidence is clear: To create a truly futureproof agricultural sector, Dutch farmers must be incentivized to transition from livestock farming to sustainable vegetable farming. As well as dramatically lowering emissions, plant-based agriculture, if approached in the right way, can produce more food with less land, providing opportunities for nature regeneration areas that will themselves contribute to climate targets. Although this approach would have economic ramifications, from a long-term perspective, it would represent a significant step towards a more sustainable and resilient national economy. Transitioning to sustainable vegetable farming will make the Netherlands greener and healthier, setting an example for other European governments. Farmers, policymakers, and consumers must focus on the future, not just on their own short-term interests, and work to implement this transition now.

As social media becomes increasingly central to young people’s everyday lives, it is important to understand how different platforms affect their developing self-conception. By testing the effect of daily Instagram use among teenage girls, this study established that highly visual social media does indeed have a significant effect on body image concerns, with a strong correlation between the amount of time spent on the platform and participants’ self-reported dissatisfaction with their appearance. However, the strength of this effect was moderated by pre-test self-esteem ratings: Participants with higher self-esteem were less likely to experience an increase in body image concerns after using Instagram. This suggests that, while Instagram does impact body image, it is also important to consider the wider social and psychological context in which this usage occurs: Teenagers who are already predisposed to self-esteem issues may be at greater risk of experiencing negative effects. Future research into Instagram and other highly visual social media should focus on establishing a clearer picture of how self-esteem and related constructs influence young people’s experiences of these platforms. Furthermore, while this experiment measured Instagram usage in terms of time spent on the platform, observational studies are required to gain more insight into different patterns of usage—to investigate, for instance, whether active posting is associated with different effects than passive consumption of social media content.

If you’re unsure about the conclusion, it can be helpful to ask a friend or fellow student to read your conclusion and summarize the main takeaways.

  • Do they understand from your conclusion what your research was about?
  • Are they able to summarize the implications of your findings?
  • Can they answer your research question based on your conclusion?

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The conclusion of a research paper has several key elements you should make sure to include:

  • A restatement of the research problem
  • A summary of your key arguments and/or findings
  • A short discussion of the implications of your research

No, it’s not appropriate to present new arguments or evidence in the conclusion . While you might be tempted to save a striking argument for last, research papers follow a more formal structure than this.

All your findings and arguments should be presented in the body of the text (more specifically in the results and discussion sections if you are following a scientific structure). The conclusion is meant to summarize and reflect on the evidence and arguments you have already presented, not introduce new ones.

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The Young Economist’s Short Guide to Writing Economic Research

Attributes of writing economics.

  • The discourse is often mathematical, with lots of formulas, lemmas, and proofs.
  • Writing styles vary widely. Some authors are very dry and technical while a few are quite eloquent.

Economics writing is different from many other types of writing. It is essentially technical, and the primary goal is to achieve clarity. A clear presentation will allow the strength of your underlying analysis and the quality of your research to shine through.

Unlike prose writing in other disciplines, economics research takes time. Successful papers are not cranked out the night before a due date.

General Guidelines for Quality Research

Getting started.

The hardest part of any writing assignment is starting. Economics research usually begins with a strong understanding of literature, and papers require a section that summarizes and applies previous literature to what the paper at hand. This is the best way to start.

Your writing will demonstrate that you understand the findings that relate to the topic.

Economists use the first few paragraphs to set up research questions and the model and data they use to think about it. Sure, it can be dry, but this format ensures the write and reader have strong grasp on the subject and structure of the work that follows.

Clear and Concise Work

Clarity is hard to achieve, but revising and reworking a paper ensures it is easy to read

  • Organize your ideas into an argument with the help of an outline.
  • Define the important terms you will use
  • State your hypothesis and proceed deductively to reach your conclusions
  • Avoid excess verbiage
  • Edit yourself, remove what is not needed, and keep revising until you get down to a simple, efficient way of communicating
  • Use the active voice
  • Put statements in positive form
  • Omit needless words (concise writing is clear writing)
  • In summaries, generally stick to one tense

Time Management

Poor time management can wreck the best-planned papers. Deadlines are key to successful research papers.

  • Start the project by finding your topic
  • Begin your research
  • Start and outline
  • Write a draft
  • Revise and polish

The Language of Economic Analysis

Economic theory has become very mathematical. Most PhD students are mathematicians, not simply economics majors. This means most quality economic research requires a strong use of mathematical language. Economic analysis is characterized by the use of models, simplified representations of how economic phenomena work. A model’s predictions about the future or the past are essentially empirical hypotheses. Since economics is not easily tested in controlled experiments, research requires data from the real world (census reports, balance sheets), and statistical methods (regressions and econometrics) to test the predictive power of models and hypotheses based on those models.

The Writing Process

Finding a topic.

There are a million ways to find a topic. It may be that you are writing for a specific subfield of economics, so topics are limited and thus easier to pick. However, must research starts organically, from passive reading or striking news articles. Make sure to find something that interests you. Be sure to find a niche and make a contribution to the subfield.

You will also need a project that can be done within the parameters of the assignment (length, due date, access to research materials). A profoundly interesting topic may not be manageable given the time and other constraints you face. The key is to just be practical.

Be sure to start your research as soon as possible. Your topic will evolve along the way, and the question you begin with may become less interesting as new information draws you in other directions. It is perfectly fine to shape your topic based on available data, but don’t get caught up in endlessly revising topics.

Finding and Using Sources

There are two types of economic sources: empirical data (information that is or can be easily translated into numerical form), and academic literature (books and articles that help you organize your ideas).

Economic data is compiled into a number of useful secondary sources:

  • Economic Report of the President
  • Statistical Abstract of the United States
  • National Longitudinal Survey
  • Census data
  • Academic journals

The Outline

A good outline acts as an agenda for the things you want to accomplish:

  • Introduction: Pose an interesting question or problem
  • Literature Review: Survey the literature on your topic
  • Methods/Data: Formulate your hypothesis and describe your data
  • Results: Present your results with the help of graphs and charts
  • Discussion: Critique your method and/or discuss any policy implications
  • Conclusions: Summarize what you have done; pose questions for further research

Writing a Literature Review

The literature review demonstrates your familiarity with scholarly work on your topic and lays the foundations for your paper. The particular issues you intent to raise, the terms you will employ, and the approach you will take should be defined with reference to previous scholarly works.

Presenting a Hypothesis

Formulate a question, problem or conjecture, and describe the approach you will take to answer, solve, or test it. In presenting your hypothesis, you need to discuss the data set you are using and the type of regression you will run. You should say where you found the data, and use a table, graph, or simple statistics to summarize them. In term papers, it may not be possible to reach conclusive results. Don’t be afraid to state this clearly and accurately. It is okay to have an inconclusive paper, but it is not okay to make overly broad and unsupported statements.

Presenting Results

There are essentially two decisions to make: (1) How many empirical results should be presented, and (2) How should these results be described in the text?

  • Focus only on what is important and be as clear as possible. Both smart and dumb readers will appreciate you pointing things out directly and clearly.
  • Less is usually more: Reporting a small group of relevant results is better than covering every possible statistical analysis that could be made on the data.
  • Clearly and precisely describe your tables, graphs, and figures in the text of your results section. The first and last sentence in a paragraph describing a result should be “big picture” statements, describing how the results in the table, graph or figure fit into the overall theme of the paper.

Discussing Results

The key to discussing results is to stay clear of making value judgments, and rely instead on economic facts and analyses. It is not the job of an economist to draw policy conclusions, even if the research supports strong evidence in a particular direction.

Referencing Sources

As with any research paper, source referencing depends on the will of a professor a discourse community. However, economists generally use soft references in the literature review section and then cite sources in conventional formats at the end of papers.

This guide was made possible by the excellent work of Robert Neugeboren and Mireille Jacobson of Harvard University and Paul Dudenhefer of Duke University.

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  • How to Write Discussions and Conclusions

How to Write Discussions and Conclusions

The discussion section contains the results and outcomes of a study. An effective discussion informs readers what can be learned from your experiment and provides context for the results.

What makes an effective discussion?

When you’re ready to write your discussion, you’ve already introduced the purpose of your study and provided an in-depth description of the methodology. The discussion informs readers about the larger implications of your study based on the results. Highlighting these implications while not overstating the findings can be challenging, especially when you’re submitting to a journal that selects articles based on novelty or potential impact. Regardless of what journal you are submitting to, the discussion section always serves the same purpose: concluding what your study results actually mean.

A successful discussion section puts your findings in context. It should include:

  • the results of your research,
  • a discussion of related research, and
  • a comparison between your results and initial hypothesis.

Tip: Not all journals share the same naming conventions.

You can apply the advice in this article to the conclusion, results or discussion sections of your manuscript.

Our Early Career Researcher community tells us that the conclusion is often considered the most difficult aspect of a manuscript to write. To help, this guide provides questions to ask yourself, a basic structure to model your discussion off of and examples from published manuscripts. 

economics research paper conclusion

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Was my hypothesis correct?
  • If my hypothesis is partially correct or entirely different, what can be learned from the results? 
  • How do the conclusions reshape or add onto the existing knowledge in the field? What does previous research say about the topic? 
  • Why are the results important or relevant to your audience? Do they add further evidence to a scientific consensus or disprove prior studies? 
  • How can future research build on these observations? What are the key experiments that must be done? 
  • What is the “take-home” message you want your reader to leave with?

How to structure a discussion

Trying to fit a complete discussion into a single paragraph can add unnecessary stress to the writing process. If possible, you’ll want to give yourself two or three paragraphs to give the reader a comprehensive understanding of your study as a whole. Here’s one way to structure an effective discussion:

economics research paper conclusion

Writing Tips

While the above sections can help you brainstorm and structure your discussion, there are many common mistakes that writers revert to when having difficulties with their paper. Writing a discussion can be a delicate balance between summarizing your results, providing proper context for your research and avoiding introducing new information. Remember that your paper should be both confident and honest about the results! 

What to do

  • Read the journal’s guidelines on the discussion and conclusion sections. If possible, learn about the guidelines before writing the discussion to ensure you’re writing to meet their expectations. 
  • Begin with a clear statement of the principal findings. This will reinforce the main take-away for the reader and set up the rest of the discussion. 
  • Explain why the outcomes of your study are important to the reader. Discuss the implications of your findings realistically based on previous literature, highlighting both the strengths and limitations of the research. 
  • State whether the results prove or disprove your hypothesis. If your hypothesis was disproved, what might be the reasons? 
  • Introduce new or expanded ways to think about the research question. Indicate what next steps can be taken to further pursue any unresolved questions. 
  • If dealing with a contemporary or ongoing problem, such as climate change, discuss possible consequences if the problem is avoided. 
  • Be concise. Adding unnecessary detail can distract from the main findings. 

What not to do


  • Rewrite your abstract. Statements with “we investigated” or “we studied” generally do not belong in the discussion. 
  • Include new arguments or evidence not previously discussed. Necessary information and evidence should be introduced in the main body of the paper. 
  • Apologize. Even if your research contains significant limitations, don’t undermine your authority by including statements that doubt your methodology or execution. 
  • Shy away from speaking on limitations or negative results. Including limitations and negative results will give readers a complete understanding of the presented research. Potential limitations include sources of potential bias, threats to internal or external validity, barriers to implementing an intervention and other issues inherent to the study design. 
  • Overstate the importance of your findings. Making grand statements about how a study will fully resolve large questions can lead readers to doubt the success of the research. 

Snippets of Effective Discussions:

Consumer-based actions to reduce plastic pollution in rivers: A multi-criteria decision analysis approach

Identifying reliable indicators of fitness in polar bears

  • How to Write a Great Title
  • How to Write an Abstract
  • How to Write Your Methods
  • How to Report Statistics
  • How to Edit Your Work

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There’s a lot to consider when deciding where to submit your work. Learn how to choose a journal that will help your study reach its audience, while reflecting your values as a researcher…

How to Write an Economics Paper: A Step-by-Step Guide

economics research paper conclusion

Economics is often called “the dismal science,” and most students would agree that it never lives up to that moniker more than when they are writing an economics paper for a college, university, or MBA course. Economics essays can be challenging because they combine scientific accuracy and mathematical reasoning with the interpretive and theoretical approaches of the humanities, making them one of the most difficult types of essays to write. However, economics papers don’t have to create anxiety if you know the right way to approach an economics paper.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the right way to write an economics paper by examining the process from start to finish and offering some tips about the best way to approach each of the steps in writing an economics essay.

So, where should you begin to write an economics paper?

Read the Assignment

This might seem like a no-brainer, but the first step in writing any essay is to read the assignment and make sure that you understand exactly what the question is asking. Be sure that you are clear on each of the requirements of the assignment, and that means that you need to carefully review the question and find each of the pieces that require a response in the essay. Beyond this, you should consider whether any of the requirements are unclear. If there is anything you don’t understand, be sure to seek clarification before you start writing.

Develop a Research Question

Based on the assignment, try to develop one or two guiding questions that will help to direct your research when you start to create the assignment. What do you want to know more about? What would you need to know to address the assignment? Having sharp research questions will help to direct your research and point you in the right direction as you gather resources.

Gather Research Before You Write

Many students take the approach that the fastest way to write a paper is to start writing and grab research to support their points as they move through. However, this is an inefficient way to write. The most effective way to write an essay is to gather your research before you begin the writing process. By researching the question and evaluating resources early on, you will be in a better position to create a strong thesis statement and develop a powerful paper that will help you to address the assignment completely. One effective technique is to read each research source, pull out key quotes you might use in your paper, and produce a reference list entry for each source before you start writing. That way, you can pull from your bank of research without having to stop and research new material as you write.

Develop a Thesis Statement

Based on the research that you’ve done, you should develop a thesis statement explaining your unique perspective on the assignment and what you will demonstrate or prove during the course of the paper. A strong thesis statement is specific and sharp rather than vague and general. Your thesis should be original and not merely repeating something someone else has already done in a prior economics paper.

Outline Your Economics Paper

Many students skip this step because they think that it is a waste of time that they could be spending writing, but outlining can actually be a time-saver in the long run. Using your thesis statement, you should develop an outline that develops each part of the thesis into a paragraph or section of your outline. Each section of your outline should have supporting details, including resources, quotes, and evidence, that you will use to assemble your paper. The more detail that you put together in your outline, the easier it will be to write the final paper.

Write the Paper, Saving the Intro for Last

Your outline should make it easy to develop your paper. All you need to do at this point is to take the outline that you wrote, flesh it out by turning its points into complete sentences, drop in quotations and supporting information (with citations), and connect the dots with transitions. When you write the final paper, you should save the introduction for last. That way, you will be able to use the conclusion that you come to at the end of the paper to craft an introduction that will set up the paper. If you try doing the introduction first, you might feel tempted to tailor your conclusion to keep the introduction intact. This way, if your conclusion changes as you write, you won’t lose time or text.

Get Economics Essay Help If Needed

Writing economics papers can be hard, but these tips should make it easier. However, if you find yourself in need of additional help, it can be helpful to pay someone for writing help. When you hire an expert from an online service like WriteMyPaperHub.com , you can receive the kind of benefits that you can’t get anywhere else, including customized and personalized research and writing assistance from an expert writer with an advanced degree and years of experience producing papers for students just like you. Whether you need writing help because you are pressed for time or don’t know where to start, professional help can be the solution to help you solve your hardest essay challenges and to help you make the grade on your next economics paper.



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How to Write a Conclusion for Research Papers (with Examples)

How to Write a Conclusion for Research Papers (with Examples)

The conclusion of a research paper is a crucial section that plays a significant role in the overall impact and effectiveness of your research paper. However, this is also the section that typically receives less attention compared to the introduction and the body of the paper. The conclusion serves to provide a concise summary of the key findings, their significance, their implications, and a sense of closure to the study. Discussing how can the findings be applied in real-world scenarios or inform policy, practice, or decision-making is especially valuable to practitioners and policymakers. The research paper conclusion also provides researchers with clear insights and valuable information for their own work, which they can then build on and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the field.

The research paper conclusion should explain the significance of your findings within the broader context of your field. It restates how your results contribute to the existing body of knowledge and whether they confirm or challenge existing theories or hypotheses. Also, by identifying unanswered questions or areas requiring further investigation, your awareness of the broader research landscape can be demonstrated.

Remember to tailor the research paper conclusion to the specific needs and interests of your intended audience, which may include researchers, practitioners, policymakers, or a combination of these.

Table of Contents

What is a conclusion in a research paper, summarizing conclusion, editorial conclusion, externalizing conclusion, importance of a good research paper conclusion, how to write a conclusion for your research paper, research paper conclusion examples.

  • How to write a research paper conclusion with Paperpal? 

Frequently Asked Questions

A conclusion in a research paper is the final section where you summarize and wrap up your research, presenting the key findings and insights derived from your study. The research paper conclusion is not the place to introduce new information or data that was not discussed in the main body of the paper. When working on how to conclude a research paper, remember to stick to summarizing and interpreting existing content. The research paper conclusion serves the following purposes: 1

  • Warn readers of the possible consequences of not attending to the problem.
  • Recommend specific course(s) of action.
  • Restate key ideas to drive home the ultimate point of your research paper.
  • Provide a “take-home” message that you want the readers to remember about your study.

economics research paper conclusion

Types of conclusions for research papers

In research papers, the conclusion provides closure to the reader. The type of research paper conclusion you choose depends on the nature of your study, your goals, and your target audience. I provide you with three common types of conclusions:

A summarizing conclusion is the most common type of conclusion in research papers. It involves summarizing the main points, reiterating the research question, and restating the significance of the findings. This common type of research paper conclusion is used across different disciplines.

An editorial conclusion is less common but can be used in research papers that are focused on proposing or advocating for a particular viewpoint or policy. It involves presenting a strong editorial or opinion based on the research findings and offering recommendations or calls to action.

An externalizing conclusion is a type of conclusion that extends the research beyond the scope of the paper by suggesting potential future research directions or discussing the broader implications of the findings. This type of conclusion is often used in more theoretical or exploratory research papers.

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The conclusion in a research paper serves several important purposes:

  • Offers Implications and Recommendations : Your research paper conclusion is an excellent place to discuss the broader implications of your research and suggest potential areas for further study. It’s also an opportunity to offer practical recommendations based on your findings.
  • Provides Closure : A good research paper conclusion provides a sense of closure to your paper. It should leave the reader with a feeling that they have reached the end of a well-structured and thought-provoking research project.
  • Leaves a Lasting Impression : Writing a well-crafted research paper conclusion leaves a lasting impression on your readers. It’s your final opportunity to leave them with a new idea, a call to action, or a memorable quote.

economics research paper conclusion

Writing a strong conclusion for your research paper is essential to leave a lasting impression on your readers. Here’s a step-by-step process to help you create and know what to put in the conclusion of a research paper: 2

  • Research Statement : Begin your research paper conclusion by restating your research statement. This reminds the reader of the main point you’ve been trying to prove throughout your paper. Keep it concise and clear.
  • Key Points : Summarize the main arguments and key points you’ve made in your paper. Avoid introducing new information in the research paper conclusion. Instead, provide a concise overview of what you’ve discussed in the body of your paper.
  • Address the Research Questions : If your research paper is based on specific research questions or hypotheses, briefly address whether you’ve answered them or achieved your research goals. Discuss the significance of your findings in this context.
  • Significance : Highlight the importance of your research and its relevance in the broader context. Explain why your findings matter and how they contribute to the existing knowledge in your field.
  • Implications : Explore the practical or theoretical implications of your research. How might your findings impact future research, policy, or real-world applications? Consider the “so what?” question.
  • Future Research : Offer suggestions for future research in your area. What questions or aspects remain unanswered or warrant further investigation? This shows that your work opens the door for future exploration.
  • Closing Thought : Conclude your research paper conclusion with a thought-provoking or memorable statement. This can leave a lasting impression on your readers and wrap up your paper effectively. Avoid introducing new information or arguments here.
  • Proofread and Revise : Carefully proofread your conclusion for grammar, spelling, and clarity. Ensure that your ideas flow smoothly and that your conclusion is coherent and well-structured.

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Remember that a well-crafted research paper conclusion is a reflection of the strength of your research and your ability to communicate its significance effectively. It should leave a lasting impression on your readers and tie together all the threads of your paper. Now you know how to start the conclusion of a research paper and what elements to include to make it impactful, let’s look at a research paper conclusion sample.

Summarizing ConclusionImpact of social media on adolescents’ mental healthIn conclusion, our study has shown that increased usage of social media is significantly associated with higher levels of anxiety and depression among adolescents. These findings highlight the importance of understanding the complex relationship between social media and mental health to develop effective interventions and support systems for this vulnerable population.
Editorial ConclusionEnvironmental impact of plastic wasteIn light of our research findings, it is clear that we are facing a plastic pollution crisis. To mitigate this issue, we strongly recommend a comprehensive ban on single-use plastics, increased recycling initiatives, and public awareness campaigns to change consumer behavior. The responsibility falls on governments, businesses, and individuals to take immediate actions to protect our planet and future generations.  
Externalizing ConclusionExploring applications of AI in healthcareWhile our study has provided insights into the current applications of AI in healthcare, the field is rapidly evolving. Future research should delve deeper into the ethical, legal, and social implications of AI in healthcare, as well as the long-term outcomes of AI-driven diagnostics and treatments. Furthermore, interdisciplinary collaboration between computer scientists, medical professionals, and policymakers is essential to harness the full potential of AI while addressing its challenges.

economics research paper conclusion

How to write a research paper conclusion with Paperpal?

A research paper conclusion is not just a summary of your study, but a synthesis of the key findings that ties the research together and places it in a broader context. A research paper conclusion should be concise, typically around one paragraph in length. However, some complex topics may require a longer conclusion to ensure the reader is left with a clear understanding of the study’s significance. Paperpal, an AI writing assistant trusted by over 800,000 academics globally, can help you write a well-structured conclusion for your research paper. 

  • Sign Up or Log In: Create a new Paperpal account or login with your details.  
  • Navigate to Features : Once logged in, head over to the features’ side navigation pane. Click on Templates and you’ll find a suite of generative AI features to help you write better, faster.  
  • Generate an outline: Under Templates, select ‘Outlines’. Choose ‘Research article’ as your document type.  
  • Select your section: Since you’re focusing on the conclusion, select this section when prompted.  
  • Choose your field of study: Identifying your field of study allows Paperpal to provide more targeted suggestions, ensuring the relevance of your conclusion to your specific area of research. 
  • Provide a brief description of your study: Enter details about your research topic and findings. This information helps Paperpal generate a tailored outline that aligns with your paper’s content. 
  • Generate the conclusion outline: After entering all necessary details, click on ‘generate’. Paperpal will then create a structured outline for your conclusion, to help you start writing and build upon the outline.  
  • Write your conclusion: Use the generated outline to build your conclusion. The outline serves as a guide, ensuring you cover all critical aspects of a strong conclusion, from summarizing key findings to highlighting the research’s implications. 
  • Refine and enhance: Paperpal’s ‘Make Academic’ feature can be particularly useful in the final stages. Select any paragraph of your conclusion and use this feature to elevate the academic tone, ensuring your writing is aligned to the academic journal standards. 

By following these steps, Paperpal not only simplifies the process of writing a research paper conclusion but also ensures it is impactful, concise, and aligned with academic standards. Sign up with Paperpal today and write your research paper conclusion 2x faster .  

The research paper conclusion is a crucial part of your paper as it provides the final opportunity to leave a strong impression on your readers. In the research paper conclusion, summarize the main points of your research paper by restating your research statement, highlighting the most important findings, addressing the research questions or objectives, explaining the broader context of the study, discussing the significance of your findings, providing recommendations if applicable, and emphasizing the takeaway message. The main purpose of the conclusion is to remind the reader of the main point or argument of your paper and to provide a clear and concise summary of the key findings and their implications. All these elements should feature on your list of what to put in the conclusion of a research paper to create a strong final statement for your work.

A strong conclusion is a critical component of a research paper, as it provides an opportunity to wrap up your arguments, reiterate your main points, and leave a lasting impression on your readers. Here are the key elements of a strong research paper conclusion: 1. Conciseness : A research paper conclusion should be concise and to the point. It should not introduce new information or ideas that were not discussed in the body of the paper. 2. Summarization : The research paper conclusion should be comprehensive enough to give the reader a clear understanding of the research’s main contributions. 3 . Relevance : Ensure that the information included in the research paper conclusion is directly relevant to the research paper’s main topic and objectives; avoid unnecessary details. 4 . Connection to the Introduction : A well-structured research paper conclusion often revisits the key points made in the introduction and shows how the research has addressed the initial questions or objectives. 5. Emphasis : Highlight the significance and implications of your research. Why is your study important? What are the broader implications or applications of your findings? 6 . Call to Action : Include a call to action or a recommendation for future research or action based on your findings.

The length of a research paper conclusion can vary depending on several factors, including the overall length of the paper, the complexity of the research, and the specific journal requirements. While there is no strict rule for the length of a conclusion, but it’s generally advisable to keep it relatively short. A typical research paper conclusion might be around 5-10% of the paper’s total length. For example, if your paper is 10 pages long, the conclusion might be roughly half a page to one page in length.

In general, you do not need to include citations in the research paper conclusion. Citations are typically reserved for the body of the paper to support your arguments and provide evidence for your claims. However, there may be some exceptions to this rule: 1. If you are drawing a direct quote or paraphrasing a specific source in your research paper conclusion, you should include a citation to give proper credit to the original author. 2. If your conclusion refers to or discusses specific research, data, or sources that are crucial to the overall argument, citations can be included to reinforce your conclusion’s validity.

The conclusion of a research paper serves several important purposes: 1. Summarize the Key Points 2. Reinforce the Main Argument 3. Provide Closure 4. Offer Insights or Implications 5. Engage the Reader. 6. Reflect on Limitations

Remember that the primary purpose of the research paper conclusion is to leave a lasting impression on the reader, reinforcing the key points and providing closure to your research. It’s often the last part of the paper that the reader will see, so it should be strong and well-crafted.

  • Makar, G., Foltz, C., Lendner, M., & Vaccaro, A. R. (2018). How to write effective discussion and conclusion sections. Clinical spine surgery, 31(8), 345-346.
  • Bunton, D. (2005). The structure of PhD conclusion chapters.  Journal of English for academic purposes ,  4 (3), 207-224.

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economics research paper conclusion

How to Write Economics Research Paper: Ultimate Guide

economics research paper conclusion

Everything You Need to Know about Economics Research Paper

Whether you are a student, a doctor, or a dancer, we have all engaged in economic activities. Bartering or exchanging money for food and services has been a part of human life for millennia, and we are proud heirs of the tradition.

As society grows, economic issues become bigger, and they call for research and study. We debate whether certain economic systems are the best fit, whether we should have a shared currency, how cryptocurrencies can revolutionize modern economics, etc. Such an inquiry aims to find solutions to the economic crises humanity faces. Poverty, famine, and homelessness are some of the major problems experienced by millions around the world.

Professional researchers and students write research papers for economics to share their analysis and findings about the major economic topics, trends, policies, or theories. Some academics prefer to work with primary data, such as surveys or experiments, while others analyze secondary data, such as historical records or existing statistics.

This article will explore the steps to writing an exceptional economics research paper. Below you will find an ultimate economics research paper outline and plenty of topics to explore in your study. Our thoughtful essay service team has also prepared a research paper economics sample to simplify your writing process.

Economics Research Paper Example

Just as we promised in the beginning, our writers took the extra mile and wrote an economics research paper example for you. Check out what makes an essay exceptional and how the paper ensures the readers stay engaged all the way through. Explore the structure, format, and language with which our writers achieve the main purpose of economics research papers.

How to Write an Economics Research Paper: Easy Steps

Our professional dissertation writers know the six holy elements of crafting a compelling economics paper, do you?

Let's put the writing aside for a second and take time to learn how to write an economics research paper. We have prepared an ultimate guide with easy steps for you to impress the reader. Remember, a strong foundation and compatible building blocks keep the skyscrapers standing tall.

Economics Research Paper Outline

First, you need to master the structure of an economics research paper. Often students skip this part leading to a mess of information that is not readable or understandable, and hours of work go in vain. To avoid such problems below, we discuss six holy elements of an excellent economics paper.

economics research paper ouline

Introduction - To impress the reader, start by offering a relevant and cutting-edge topic. There are endless amounts of research paper topics in economics; choose the one you feel passionate about and make it interesting for the audience.

Literature Review - Take your time to research information around the chosen topic. Sometimes our beliefs and prejudices blur our judgment, but we must remain unbiased. Secondary sources are there to guide you in the right direction.

Methods/data - describe the methodologies with which you plan to explore the topic and provide conclusions. Here you need to formulate your thesis and describe the data you gathered.

Results - Don't shy away from charts and graphs when presenting your study results. They are a great way to visualize large amounts of information.

Discussion - you can and need to challenge the methods you used for the research paper for economics. Credibility is as important as air when it comes to economic research.

Conclusion - Shortly restate your findings. Use clear and concise sentences. Emphasize why your study is important and what some questions are for future research.

Creating an Economics Research Paper Introduction

By an unwritten rule, an introduction is the first element of the economics research paper format. It aims to provide an overview of your study, explain its importance, explain why people should spend time thinking about the issue, and explain what value your research adds to the conversation.

Ensure that your introduction includes the research hypothesis and the objectives you aim to cover in your research paper economics study. You must also provide background information and a brief overview of your findings. Be sharp and stick to the point. The goal is to give the audience a clear understanding of what the paper is about and what problems it could solve.

Our team of custom research paper writing services can free you from worrying about writing a compelling introduction or providing a thorough statistical analysis. Let us know what is required, and we will return with an A+ essay.

Discussing the Existing Literature Review for Your Economics Research Paper

Everything in life has its context, and economic events are no exception to the rule. Before you start discussing your results, it is appropriate to provide a piece of background information, what we know from previous studies, and how that knowledge relates to your thesis statement.

According to the economics research paper outline, an introduction should be followed by a literature review section. Besides establishing the state of knowledge around the topic, the literature review can help you and the audience identify gaps, highlight the parts where further research is needed and put your research question in the larger scheme of things.

Literature reviews should include a critical analysis of relevant literature, reports, policy documents, etc. It should provide an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of each source, showing gaps in information and proving the importance of your scholarly work.

We know this is a lot. If you prefer learning by example, our professional writers have crafted an economics research paper example for you. You can find it below.

Explaining the Methodology for Your Economics Research Paper

For your hard labor to be appreciated, your study must be credible. Readers must be able to see where you derived your conclusions from. This is why explaining the methodologies and techniques used is such an important section of the economics research paper outline.

Research methodologies for economics are various, and you need to be aware of which one could be the best fit for your study. Not every topic can be examined with identical tools; you need to find the one that helps you provide unbiased, trustworthy results.

Here you can find some research methodologies that could be useful for your research paper for economics:

methodologies for research economics paper

Econometric Analysis : Use of statistical techniques to analyze economic data and test hypotheses.

Experimental Design : Conducting controlled experiments to test economic theories

Case Study : An in-depth analysis of a particular case

Historical Analysis : Use of historical data and documents to analyze economic trends

Mathematical Modeling : Use of math models to analyze economic behavior and predict outcomes

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Presenting the Results in Your Economics Research Paper

Even though every section in the outline is equally important, the part where you present the results is the most interesting and anticipated. Here you need to get creative and focus on delivering the main points. Avoid passive voice; instead, take ownership of your work, rely on yourself, and use active voice. Use the following paragraphs to impress your audience.

The way you present the results depends on the type of data you collected and the analytical techniques you used. Some research papers need a numerical answer, and others focus on ideas.

Below you can see several techniques you can use in the results section of your economics research paper:

Tables : Effective way to present numerical data. Tables can be used to present descriptive statistics, regression results, and other types of quantitative data.

Figures : Effective way to demonstrate relationships between variables and trends over time.

Narrative Forms : Effective way to analyze non-numerical data such as surveys, interviews, or case studies.

Reviewing the Findings for Economics Research Paper

Our guide on how to write an economics research paper is nearing its end. Before concluding, you need to review the results of your study. This step might seem unnecessary, but it's vital for economics writing.

A critical analysis of one's writing can validate the research results even more. It is an excellent way to find out whether the original hypothesis is now supported by data. Reviewing can also help you identify the strength and weaknesses of the study, including the limitations in data or methods used.

It will also help you write a more comprehensive conclusion. Reviewing and interpreting the results will help you link the findings of your research paper for economics to the broader picture and also identify areas for further research.

Concluding Your Economics Research Paper

Like other disciplines, the economics research paper format also requires a comprehensive conclusion. Remember conclusion is not where you introduce new ideas; you simply have to restate your findings in a slightly different manner.

Explain the reasoning behind the results, and make it intuitive and engaging. Discuss what mechanisms could drive them and what obstacles you had to overcome during research. Let the reader know if there were any limitations to your approach.

Remember that other scholars will use your report as a secondary source just like you used other researchers' concepts and ideas, so make room and give enough time for future research and policy implications.

We understand that college is hard and following an economics research paper outline is not the easiest job. All you have to write to our college essay writing service and expert writers will come back with research writing that will put you at the top of your class.

30 Research Paper Topics in Economics

The tips above will help you write an excellent economics research paper. Now you have to select a cutting-edge topic. Below you will find the hottest economics topics for research paper:

  • The Impact of Minimum Wage Increases on Employment
  • Effects of Trade Tariffs on Consumer Prices
  • The Role of Government Subsidies in Agriculture
  • How Inflation Affects Household Savings
  • The Economics of Renewable Energy Adoption
  • Income Inequality and Economic Growth
  • The Influence of Education on Economic Development
  • Effects of Taxation on Small Businesses
  • The Relationship Between Unemployment and Crime Rates
  • The Economic Impact of Immigration
  • The Role of Technology in Economic Growth
  • Housing Market Trends and Economic Stability
  • The Economics of Health Care Reform
  • The Financial Crisis of 2008: Causes and Consequences
  • The Impact of Globalization on Local Economies
  • Behavioral Economics: How Psychology Affects Financial Decisions
  • The Economics of Climate Change
  • The Role of Central Banks in Economic Stability
  • The Effect of Online Shopping on Traditional Retail
  • The Economic Benefits of Tourism
  • The Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility on Profits
  • How Student Loan Debt Affects the Economy
  • The Economics of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain
  • The Role of Women in Economic Development
  • The Economic Effects of Pandemics
  • The Influence of Political Stability on Economic Growth
  • Economic Impacts of Natural Disasters
  • The Economics of Public Transportation
  • The Role of Microfinance in Poverty Reduction
  • The Effect of Consumer Confidence on Economic Recovery

A Brief Afterword

Writing economics research papers is a lot of work. You must plan, research and analyze excessively to achieve the best quality. You'll need to find an attention-grabbing research question, come up with a methodology, and turn complex ideas into one paragraph.

But writing research could be much easier. All you have to say is, ' write paper for me ,' and our team of professionals will take care of the rest. You can relax while we select the best research topic and turn dense ideas into short sentences, honoring the process and structure of economic research. A+ is just a click away!

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Annie Lambert

Annie Lambert

specializes in creating authoritative content on marketing, business, and finance, with a versatile ability to handle any essay type and dissertations. With a Master’s degree in Business Administration and a passion for social issues, her writing not only educates but also inspires action. On EssayPro blog, Annie delivers detailed guides and thought-provoking discussions on pressing economic and social topics. When not writing, she’s a guest speaker at various business seminars.

economics research paper conclusion

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How to Write Economics Research Paper: Ultimate Guide

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The economic research paper is an important part of an undergraduate economics course. It is one of the main assignments that students have to complete.

This assignment aims to help students understand how to conduct economic research and find out what information can be found in different sources.

However, many students are intimidated by economics research paper assignments. This is why  Paper Perk  has brought you this step-by-step tutorial on how to write an economics paper.

Table of Contents

Why is it important to conduct research on the economy?

The economy is a complex and ever-evolving system that affects every aspect of our lives. From the prices we pay for goods and services to the job opportunities available, the economy shapes our financial well-being and overall quality of life.

Researching the economy allows us to better understand the forces at play, make informed decisions, and contribute to developing policies and strategies that promote economic growth and stability.

How to Write an Economics Research Paper That Inspires

Preparing to  write a research paper  can be daunting. But fear not! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the process of writing step by step, ensuring you create a well-structured and insightful paper.

We’ll also focus on the decision-making process regarding the type of paper you’ll write, the data collection methods, and the importance of research objectives and questions. So let’s dive in!

Step 1: Choosing the Type of Paper— Qualitative vs. Quantitative

The first step in writing an economics research paper is deciding whether you’ll be crafting a qualitative or quantitative paper.

Choosing the type of paper is important as it helps to structure and organize the information you gather through your research.

It also helps you determine the purpose and approach of your study. You will choose among the

following two types depending on your  research topic  and its objective.

This will communicate the focus of your research and serve your audience’s expectations. A qualitative paper is primarily theoretical, exploring concepts, frameworks, and ideas.

On the other hand, a quantitative paper combines data analysis with theory, aiming to provide empirical evidence to support or refute theoretical claims.

Qualitative Paper

If you opt for a qualitative paper, you’ll delve deep into economic theories and concepts. Your paper will be heavily based on existing literature.

And you’ll be expected to thoroughly analyze the subject matter. This type of paper is ideal for those who enjoy engaging with abstract ideas and developing logical arguments.

Quantitative Paper

A quantitative paper, on the other hand, requires you to collect and analyze data to support your hypotheses.

You’ll need to employ various statistical techniques and tools to make sense of the data and draw meaningful conclusions.

This type of paper is perfect for those who enjoy working with numbers and have a strong grasp of statistical methods.

Step 2: Data Collection— Primary vs. Secondary

Once you’ve decided on the type of paper you’ll write, you must determine your data collection method. The step takes place even before you craft your  research paper outline . Ask yourself, “Will you collect primary data or rely on secondary data sources?”

Primary Data

Primary data collection involves gathering new data specifically for your research paper. Depending on your research objectives, this can be done through surveys, interviews, or experiments.

Collecting primary data allows you to tailor your data collection process to your specific research questions, ensuring that your data is directly relevant to your study.

Secondary Data

Secondary data, on the other hand, refers to data already collected by someone else. This includes government statistics, previous research data, or financial reports.

Using secondary data can save you time and resources, but you’ll need to ensure that your data is reliable, accurate, and relevant to your research question.

Step3: Choosing Your Research Methodology

Now, you might wonder how to choose the  research methodology  for an economics research paper? 

Choosing the right methodology for your economics research paper is crucial to ensure your findings are reliable and valid. 

Here are three examples of economics topics and potential statistical methodologies that researchers can apply to conduct their research, along with relevant software tools

Economics Research Paper Example 1 .   

Topic: The impact of fiscal policy on economic growth


Economics Research Paper Example 2. 

Topic: The determinants of foreign direct investment (FDI) in developing countries

Economics Research Paper Example 3.   

Topic: The effect of minimum wage increases on employment levels

When choosing a methodology, researchers should consider the nature of their research question, the type of data available, and the specific objectives of their study.

By selecting an appropriate statistical methodology and using relevant software tools, you can ensure that your research findings are robust and meaningful.

Step 3: Crafting Your Introduction—- Research Objectives and Questions

Many students  start a research paper  by compiling the body first, but that is a strategy best suited for a  college essay .

For economics research papers, it’s better to start with the introduction. Your introduction should clearly outline your research objectives and thesis questions.

This sets the stage for the rest of your paper, helping readers understand what you aim to achieve with your research and why it’s important.

Be sure to:

  • Clearly state your research objectives and questions.
  • Explain the significance of your research in the context of existing literature.
  • Provide a brief overview of the structure of your paper.

Step 4: Writing Hypothesis and Methodology

After outlining your research objectives and questions, you’ll need to develop a hypothesis. Based on your research question and existing literature, this is a statement of what you expect to find.

Your hypothesis will guide your data collection and analysis, helping you to stay focused on your research objectives.

Within the Hypothesis section, presenting a clear and testable statement that reflects your expectations based on the research question and existing literature is essential.

There are several types of hypotheses you can consider, depending on the nature of your research and the interests of your audience:

  • Null hypothesis (H0):  This hypothesis states no significant relationship exists between the variables you’re studying. It serves as a baseline assumption you’ll attempt to disprove through your research.
  • Alternative hypothesis (H1):  The alternative hypothesis posits that there is a significant relationship between the variables, challenging the null hypothesis. You’ll support this hypothesis if your findings contradict the null hypothesis.
  • Directional hypothesis:  A directional hypothesis not only suggests a relationship between variables but also specifies the direction of the relationship (e.g., positive or negative correlation).
  • Non-directional hypothesis:  This type of hypothesis predicts a relationship between variables but does not specify the direction of the relationship.

When writing economic research, present your hypothesis in a way that ensures that it is relevant to your audience’s interests and concerns.

By doing so, you’ll engage your readers and demonstrate the practical implications of your research, making your paper more compelling and impactful.

Next, you’ll need to choose a methodology for your research. This will depend on the type of paper you’re writing and your data collection method. Be sure to explain your chosen methodology clearly and justify your choice.

Step 5: Literature Review—- Building a Strong Foundation

Before diving into your findings, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough  literature review . This section allows you to:

  • Familiarize yourself with existing research related to your topic.
  • Identify gaps in the literature that your research aims to fill.
  • Situate your research within the broader academic context.

Make sure to critically analyze the literature and highlight the key theories, models, and empirical findings that have shaped the field.

Step 6: Data Analysis— Making Sense of Your Findings

Once you’ve collected your data, you need to analyze it to draw meaningful results. In your  result section , you’ll:

  • Present your data clearly and organized, using tables, graphs, or charts as needed.
  • Apply appropriate statistical techniques to test your hypothesis.
  • Interpret your results, explaining the patterns and relationships you’ve identified.

Be sure to discuss any limitations or challenges you faced during data analysis and how they may have impacted your findings.

Step 7: Discussion— Connecting the Dots

In the  discussion section , you’ll synthesize your findings and relate them back to your research question and the existing literature. Here, you should:

  • Summarize your main findings and their implications.
  • Compare and contrast your results with previous research.
  • Address any discrepancies or unexpected results, offering possible explanations.

This section allows you to demonstrate your critical thinking skills and showcase the significance of your research.

Step 8: Conclusion— Wrapping It Up

The  conclusion of your research  is a chance to provide a concise summary of your research and its implications. In this section, you should:

  • Restate your research question and main findings.
  • Discuss the broader implications of your research for the field of economics and beyond.
  • Identify potential avenues for future research, highlighting any unanswered questions or new issues that have emerged from your study.

Step 9: Policy Recommendations— Translating Research into Action

The last part of your economics research paper is where researchers will translate the research into action. But how?

By extracting the answers to the research objective and producing useful recommendations. These recommendations will be related to the topic scope and future research in this area.

A research paper without a policy recommendation is nothing. That’s where researchers will get to know the scope and impact of your research.

Later, these can be a base of advance level policy building or solutions to authoritative bodies. Thus, play your part so well that your research paper can change the world.

10 Research Paper Topics in Economics

Our writers have compiled a list of ten economics research paper topics for your convenience. But if you still want more options, check out our article on  200 unique finance research topics .

  • The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Labor Markets: Examining the Effects of Automation and AI Technologies on Employment, wages, and job polarization.
  • Income Inequality and Economic Growth: Analyzing the relationship between income inequality and long-term economic growth, exploring potential mechanisms and policy implications.
  • The Economics of Climate Change: Investigating the economic consequences of climate change, such as the costs of mitigation and adaptation strategies and the impact on economic sectors and welfare.
  • Digital Currencies and Monetary Policy: Assessing the implications of digital currencies (e.g., cryptocurrencies, central bank digital currencies) on monetary policy, financial stability, and payment systems.
  • Behavioral Economics and Nudging: Exploring the applications of behavioral economics principles in policy-making, focusing on the effectiveness of nudges in influencing individual and societal behavior.
  • Trade Wars and Global Economic Interdependence: Analyzing the Consequences of trade conflicts and protectionist policies on international trade, supply chains, and global economic integration.
  • Impact of COVID-19 on Labor Markets and Income Inequality: Investigating the short and long-term effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on employment, income distribution, and inequality dynamics.
  • Financial Inclusion and Economic Development: Examining the Role of financial inclusion in promoting economic development, reducing poverty, and fostering entrepreneurship in emerging economies.
  • Energy Transition and Sustainable Development: Assessing the economic implications of transitioning to renewable energy sources, exploring the costs, benefits, and policy challenges associated with achieving sustainable energy systems.
  • Health Economics and Healthcare Systems: Analyzing the efficiency, equity, and sustainability of healthcare systems, exploring the impact of healthcare policies and interventions on population health outcomes and economic productivity.

Note: Some of the provided topics are inspired by existing research. However, our  research paper writer  have tried their best to give a new perspective to those topics. It’s important for you to carefully research each topic before deciding which one to write about.

This means looking into the subject more deeply to gather all the necessary information and make sure you understand it well. By doing thorough research, you can ensure that your chosen topic is original and unique.

Common Mistakes Students Commit While Writing an Economic Research Paper

  • Lack of clear research questions
  • Insufficient literature review
  • Weak and inadequate data analysis
  • Lack of structure organization
  • Not enough evidence to support your claim
  • Lack of clarity in writing
  • Submitting without proofreading

Students should carefully plan and outline their research papers to avoid these mistakes. Conducting thorough research and analyzing data accurately will also help.

Additionally, students should present arguments coherently, use clear and concise language, provide proper citations, and proofread the final draft meticulously.

Seeking feedback from professors or peers can also help identify and rectify potential mistakes before submitting the paper.


In conclusion, writing an economics research paper may seem like a challenging endeavor. But by following this guide and focusing on the key steps outlined above, you’ll be well on your way to crafting a well-structured, insightful, and impactful paper.

However, we understand you might get caught in time constraints to meet deadly deadlines, so our experts are on their way to secure you. Whether you go for a simple research paper, a full-fledged research thesis, or a  dissertation writing service  is up to you. Just drop us a query to get the best possible help.

Where to find economic research papers?

What are 7 research methods in economics.

7 Research Methods in Economics:

  • Econometric analysis: Applying statistical techniques to economic data for estimation and hypothesis testing.
  • Experimental economics: Conducting controlled experiments to study economic behavior and market outcomes.
  • Survey research: Gathering data through questionnaires or interviews to understand preferences, behaviors, and economic activities.
  • Case studies: Analyzing specific individuals, groups, firms, or events to gain detailed insights into economic phenomena.
  • Historical research: Examining past economic events, policies, and trends to understand their causes and consequences.
  • Input-output analysis: Studying the interrelationships between different sectors of an economy.
  • Mathematical modeling uses equations and symbols to represent and analyze economic systems.

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Economics Department

Guide to reading economics papers, jeffrey parker, reed college.

In your Reed economics courses, you will often be asked to read papers from professional journals that were written for an audience of Ph.D. economists. Some of these will be fairly easy to understand; others will be rather opaque. The outline below suggests a method of extracting what I think are the essential (for class purposes) elements from papers.

  • Who are the authors? Do they have an established point of view or position in a controversial debate that they would want to defend? If so, you should recognize this when interpreting the results of the paper. This may be difficult for you to know without an extensive knowledge of the literature and is often not an important issue, but when it is important it can be very important.
  • What question is the paper addressing? This should be obvious from the title, abstract, and/or introduction. Identifying the target question as you begin reading should help you put the component parts of the paper into context.
  • Is it a theoretical paper that deduces a conclusion from a set of theoretical assumptions? The internal logic of most theoretical papers can usually be assumed to be validated by the journal's referees and editors. The central questions about the paper may then revolve around its applicability: Are the model's assumptions plausible for the question being addressed? It is important to recognize that no economic model ever has assumptions that are strictly true. A "good" model captures some essential core characteristics of the world but ignores less important details. For you, the essential question is: Is this a good model for this question?
  • Is it an empirical study that attempts to assess whether the evidence is consistent with a particular hypothesis or to estimate an important economic parameter? Empirical papers are open to question on myriad grounds because there are many valid ways to test most hypotheses. This is why there are many empirical papers addressing any important question. To understand an empirical paper, focus on its essential parts: the logic of the test, the data used, which are the dependent and which the independent variables, and the econometric methods used to estimate the model. As a student, it is most important to understand the logic of the test: What does it mean for a key estimated parameter to be positive or negative? How does the analysis distinguish between a state of the world in which the central hypothesis is true and a state where it is false? Are the estimates of the key parameters statistically significant? Economically significant?
  • Is it a case study that looks in detail at one or more examples of the phenomenon under study? Is the case chosen typical of other important applications? Does the author interpret the case as an illustration of a particular theory? Are there other theories that might explain the case equally well or better?
  • Is it a " meta-study " that surveys other papers addressing the question? These studies often have voluminous bibliographies that are more useful as reference tools than as objects for detailed study. Which of the studies being discussed are the most central or seminal? On what results do the central studies agree and where do they disagree? Does the preponderance of evidence support one conclusion or another?
  • What are the paper's results and conclusions? How strongly are the conclusions supported by the results of the analysis? Do the authors present any "robustness checks" or "sensitivity analysis" that suggests how sensitive the conclusion is to assumptions, data, and methods used?
  • How does the paper fit into the broader literature? Does this paper contradict others that find different answers to the same question? If so, what is the source of the difference in outcomes? Which, if either, paper seems to have established its case more strongly? Can we tentatively form a conclusion or are we left with considerable uncertainty about the answer to the question?

These elements can usually be extracted from a careful reading of specific sections of the paper without understanding all the details of other sections. Introduction, model specification, data, results, interpretation, and conclusion sections often contain the essential elements. As you read more economics papers, you will get better at extracting these elements.

If you are asked to summarize a paper for class, it is critical that you understand the paper's essential elements. Depending on the paper, there may be other details that are important as well, but most papers can be summarized concisely in a page (or in a five-minute presentation) by writing or talking about the answers to the questions listed above.

Kristin A. Van Gaasbeck

Department of economics, college of social sciences and interdisciplinary studies, california state university, sacramento, writing in economics :: components of a research paper.

An economics research paper includes the parts listed below. Some of these may be, and often are, combined into sections of the research paper. Depending on the nature of the research question, some parts may be emphasized more than others.

I've condensed information from several different sources. This is cursory content on how to write in economics, please make use of the additional resources . Also, every researcher has his or her own opinion about the best way to proceed. The information I've collected below is one of many possible ways to approach an undergraduate or graduate research project in Economics.

The abstract is a description of your research paper. The writing style of the abstract is very condensed - it should be no more than 350 words (or 5-6 sentences). The abstract is designed to identify the following to a potential reader:

  • The research question What is the question that is the focus of your research? A good research question is one that (i) doesn't have an obvious answer (otherwise, why bother researching it?) and (ii) is testable using data.
  • Your contribution to the research on the subject What has the previous literature found and what is your contribution to general understanding of the economic problem/question.
  • How you answer the research question How you use theoretical and/or empirical analysis to answer the research question.
  • Results Your findings based on the aforementioned analysis

The abstract is written when the paper is completed. It should not be the same as your introduction - the audience is different.


The introduction is designed to both identify and motivate your research question. Like an essay you would write in other subjects, the introduction begins with a broad statement, and then narrows down to your specific research question.

In the end, make sure that you've done the following in your introduction:

  • State your research question
  • Motivate why the subject of your research is important to economists and other stakeholders
  • Explain to the reader where your research fits into the subject.
  • Identify your contribution to general understanding on the subject/research question
  • Summarize how you intend to answer the research question
  • State your general results and answer to your research question.

The first paragraph of the introduction is used to motivate why this research is important and of interest to economists and other stakeholders (e.g., parents and teachers in education economics, central bankers in monetary policy, and residents and businesses affected by pollution). It may conclude with a statement of your research question, followed by a discussion of who is affected by the economic issue under study. It is not appropriate to include personal anecdotes in a written research paper. Remember, you are motivating why the research should be of interest to the reader.

The second paragraph typically has more detail about how you plan to answer the research question, possibly citing other work closely related to your own research. In fact, many authors combine the literature review with the introduction in order to streamline this discussion. This paragraph may conclude with your general findings.

You should be able to write the first paragraph when you begin your research. The second paragraph can be written as you are concluding your research, as it draws on information from subsequent sections of your paper.

Literature Review

The literature review serves two main purposes:

  • motivate why your research question is important in the context of the broader subject
  • provide the reader with information on what other researchers have found (highlighting your contribution)

If someone has done a similar analysis to yours, tell us, and then explain how yours is different. Explain their findings, and then follow up with what you expect to find in your own research, and compare.

Some things to keep in mind for your literature review:

  • Conduct a comprehensive search of the research on your subject Familiarize yourself with search engines in Economics (ECONLit is the most comprehensive) - do not rely on Google or other general search engines because they will link to you information that is not peer-reviewed research. A good general rule is as follows: if it is a paper not listed on ECONLit, it is probably not appropriate for a research paper in economics. Of course, there are exceptions. See my ECON 145 resources for more information on search engines .
  • Create an annotated bibliography for the papers you plan to cite in your research paper. More information on annotated bibliographies is given below . This is a good step to take early on in your literature review search because it helps you keep track of the papers you plan to cite, and helps you to summarize information in one place. This will help you with the subsequent steps below.
  • Identify which papers are most relevant to your research question It is easy to find lots of articles on one topic, but difficult to sort out which ones are important and relevant to your specific topic. You need to find the most relevant articles for your topic, and tell the reader why these are relevant articles for your topic specifically.
  • Make an outline of your literature review Write an outline of your literature review. When writing your literature review, you want to organize the research of others into themes that you want to convey to the reader. Do not simply list papers chronologically and summarize the results of others. You should group papers by common themes.
  • Critically read research papers You cannot read research papers like novels or the newspaper. Economics research papers are often dense and technical, requiring carefully reading. If you are not actively engaged as a reader, taking notes and writing questions to yourself as you go along, you are making poor use of your time and will not get much out of your literature review. See my page on Critical Reading for more information on strategies for how to read economics research papers.
  • Be aware of plagiarism. This is very difficult for the novice researcher because some information is generally taken as known, while other information is not. The best way to get a sense for how to appropriately cite and attribute material is to read economics research articles. Avoiding plagiarism doesn't mean rewriting someone else's ideas in your own words. If you are using someone else's idea, whether in quotes or not, you must cite it. When in doubt, cite.
  • common research questions in the subject (introduction),
  • economic models used to answer related research questions (economic model),
  • empirical methodologies common in the field (empirical methodology),
  • data sources you may use in your analysis (data description),
  • how to report your results (empirical analysis), and
  • how to identify your contribution to understanding of the research question/subject (conclusion/analysis).

Economic Model/Empirical Methodology

This section (or sections) or your paper are designed to show how you intend to answer your research question using economic theory (economic model) and empirically (using statistical tests). For the novice researcher, it is useful to think of these two approaches as separate. This avoids the temptation to confuse them.

Economic Model

This is what you have studied in most of your other economics classes. For example, what happens to the price of housing when the population increases? Using demand-supply model, we know that an increase in population leads to an increase in the demand for housing, increasing the equilibrium price. In reading economics research papers, the economic model is often not identified because it is assumed the reader (economic researchers) are familiar with the underlying model. However, to the novice researcher, the model may not be obvious, so it is important to outline the model and include it in your research paper.

Your economic model is how you make predictions of what you expect to find in the data. Based on the simple example above, we'd expect to see a positive relationship between housing prices and population, ceteris paribus (e.g., holding all other variables in the demand-supply model unchanged).

Another important point is that your economic model is what implies a causal relationship between the economic variables. While you may detect a positive or negative relationship in the data, this alone tells you nothing about which variable is causing a change in the other variable. The economic model can be used to model this relationship. In the example above, we assume that in the model, a change in population causes a change in the housing price.

The economic model should make no mention of data, regression analysis, or statistical tests. The model is a purely theoretical construct, based on an abstract notion of how the world works. The empirical methodology section of your paper is how you plan to test these relationships in the data. An economic model is NOT a regression equation.

Finally, you should use an economic model that is common in the literature on your subject. Unless you are proposing a new model, you should rely on those used by other researchers in the field. This will allow you to use your literature review to justify your choice of model. Also, this is why the economic model is often embedded in the literature review of the paper. For novice researchers, I recommend keeping it separate, to make sure you understand how to use your economic model to conduct theoretical analysis.

Empirical Methodology

This is where you describe to the reader how you plan to test the relationships implied by your economic/theoretical model. First, you want to identify your dependent variable. This is the variable you are seeking to explain the behavior of. Next, you want to identify possible explanatory variables. These are the variables that could potentially affect your dependent variable.

Often in economic models, there are abstract notions of how some variables affect others. For example, human capital affects production, but how would we measure human capital in the data? You can find suitable proxies for a variable like human capital by familiarizing yourself with the literature.

So, how could a researcher go about testing the relationship between housing prices and population? First, we know that housing price is the dependent variable. Population is one explanatory variable, but are there others that affect housing prices? Yes. We know this from the demand and supply model that there are other variables that shift demand for housing (income, prices of substitutes and complements, expectations, tastes and preferences, etc.) and the supply of housing (input costs, expectations, the number of sellers, etc.). In order to isolate the effect of population on house price, we need to control for these other factors.

The most common strategy for empirical work regression analysis because it allows the researcher to isolate the correlation between two variables, while holding other explanatory variables constant (e.g., ceteris paribus from the model above). Often in the empirical methodology section, the researcher will point out potential estimation issues, highlighting the need for more advanced econometric techniques that go beyond ordinary least squares (OLS).

This section does not actually do any statistical analysis, but it may include a description of the data (see below). In advising students on research papers, I usually recommend the following breakdown for the empirical methodology section:

  • Data description This is a description of the data you plan to use for your analysis. It usually includes a citation of the primary source, data frequency, how the data are measured, the frequency of the data, etc. The amount of detail depends on the nature of the data. Also, this is the section where you would report any modifications you make to the data.
  • Preliminary data analysis This section reports summary statistics, histograms, time series plots, and other similar information. This section is designed to give the reader a sense of what your sample looks like. In reporting this information, you should be selective - more is not always better. You need to decide which information you need/want to convey to the reader and how to best convey it. See my Empirical Methods in Economics page for ideas on basic statistical analysis.
  • Regression Equation Now, you're ready to remind the reader of your particular test and how you are going to go about using regression to test it. This section should include a regression equation, a discussion justifying this equation, and a description of the expected signs on the coefficients for each of the explanatory variables (spending more time on those that are of particular interest for your study). Remember, the regression coefficient measure the marginal effects of the explanatory variable on the dependent variable (holding the other variables constant, ceteris paribus). When justifying your regression equation and discussing the expected signs for the coefficients, you should make some clear connections back to your theory section and the literature review section of your paper. Also, make sure that you are using your regression equation to answer your research question. What is the testable hypothesis? Does this test answer your research question? See my Empirical Methods in Economics page for a simple primer on regression analysis.

Data Description

An alternative to the ordering mentioned above is as follows. You can begin with a regression equation, then provide a detailed description of the data, along with some preliminary data analysis. It is most common to have the data description as its own section of the paper - mainly to make it easier for readers to reference it if they plan to do similar research. You could then follow this Data section with an Empirical Methodology section that consists of the #3 Regression equation described above.

Empirical Analysis

This section is often titled "Results" in economic research papers, as it reports the results from your regression analysis above. There are commonly-used templates for reporting regression results. The best way to familiarize yourself with these templates is from the papers you cite in your literature review. You will see that it is common to report multiple regressions in one table, with the explanatory variables listed vertically on the left. See my page on Empirical Methods in Economics for more details.

The empirical analysis should include a table with your regression results, and your written analysis of these results. Note, this does not mean repeating the information in your regression tables. It means interpreting these coefficients in light of your economic model and comparing your findings to other papers from your literature review.

The conclusion usually consists of about three paragraphs. The first begins with a restatement of the research question, followed by a description of what we know about this research question from the literature (very concisely). Then the paragraph concludes with a brief description of the theoretical answer to the question.

The second paragraph begins with an answer to the research question, based on your empirical analysis. The researcher then proceeds to compare his/her findings to the consensus in the literature, pointing out possible reasons for differences and similarities. For example, perhaps you studied a different time period, or a different country. Perhaps you used a different measure of the dependent or explanatory variables.

In the final paragraph, it is common to draw policy implications from your research. In a practical sense, who cares about this research question (remember the stakeholders from the introduction..) and what can they do with this knowledge? Often the conclusion will point toward directions for future research, based on possible extensions to your research.


The bibliography contains complete references of the works that cited and referred to in your research.

It is essential that you give proper credit to all works that you cite, even if they are not included in your literature review. For example, if you obtained data from a publication that is not easily available, it would be appropriate to cite it in your data description and include it in your bibliography. Incomplete or inaccurate citations are akin to plagiarism, so please be sure to carefully check your references and keep track of them while completing your literature review.

In economics, it is most common to use APA style in citing references in the text of your paper and in creating a bibliography. For more information, see the APA style guide provided by the Library , or simply pick up a copy of the APA style guide if you will be using it frequently.

Annotated Bibliography An annotated bibliography is one that includes the reference (mentioned above), along with a few sentences describing the research and how it relates to your research paper. Often the description will begin with a statement of what the research found, followed by one or two sentences that are relevant to the research question you are studying.

Even though APA style calls for a double-spaced annotated bibliography, many researchers prefer a single spaced one. The Library has information on annotated bibliographies and I have posted an outstanding example from undergraduate Economic Research Methods .

The best annotated bibliographies are those written by students who have read the literature critically. See my page on Critical Reading for more information on strategies for how to read economics research papers. Even if an annotated bibliography is not assigned as part of your research project, it is a useful exercise for you to engage in, especially if you have to present your research orally or using a poster. If you are unable to write an annotated bibliography, then you are probably writing a poor review of the literature on your subject and a less than satisfactory research paper.

Economics Research Paper

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Evolutionary Economics Research Paper

Introduction, relationship between theories of biological and sociocultural evolution, the scope and methods of evolutionary economics, marxist models of evolution, original institutional economics, the new institutional economics, whither evolutionary economics.

  • Bibliography

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Evolutionary economics has gained increasing acceptance as a field of economics that focuses on change over time in the process of material provisioning (production, distribution, and consumption) and the social institutions that surround that process. It is closely related to, and often draws on research in, other disciplines such as economic sociology, economic anthropology, and international political economy. It has important implications for many other fields in economics, including, but not limited to, growth theory, economic development, economic history, political economy, history of thought, gender economics, industrial organization, the study of business cycles, and financial crises.

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Historically, evolutionary economics was the province of critics of the mainstream, neoclassical tradition. Both Marxist and original institutional economists (OIE) have long asserted the importance and relevance of understanding change over time and critiqued the standard competitive model for its abstract, ahistorical, and static focus. In recent years, however, the rise of the new institutional economics (NIE) as well as game theory has resulted in wider acceptance of evolutionary explanations by the mainstream (Hodgson, 2007b, pp. 1-15; North, 1990). Consequently, it is now possible to identify three major traditions in evolutionary economics: the Marxist (Sherman, 2006), the OIE (Hodgson, 2004), and the NIE (North, 1990). Each of these major traditions encompasses multiple strands within it. As a general rule, Marxists and OIEs seek to replace the standard competitive model of mainstream economics, while NIEs seek to complement the standard competitive model, although the growing acceptance of game theory may make this less of an important distinction. Despite their differences, it is possible to identify some common themes that are shared by each of these disparate traditions. For example, authors in each tradition have exhibited a concern with how the interaction of technology, social institutions, and ideologies leads to changes in economic and social organization over time.

The goal of this research paper is to introduce the reader to a few of the major concerns, themes, and important authors of each respective tradition. In doing so, it will first address some general issues in evolutionary economics, including its relationship to evolutionary biology as well as some conceptual, definitional, and taxonomic issues. It will then proceed to provide a brief overview of the evolution of each respective tradition. Unfortunately, the length of this research paper precludes discussion of many worthy contributions to each tradition as well as important topics that can and should be addressed by evolutionary economics. For example, space does not permit a discussion of how evolutionary economics could be applied to gender economics or how economists who write on gender often incorporate the contributions of evolutionary economists. Nor will this research paper attempt to assess the extent of empirical or conceptual progress in evolutionary economics within or between respective traditions. In addition, the reader should be aware that evolutionary economics itself is an evolving field and that the boundaries between the three traditions are often fluid.

General Issues in Evolutionary Economics

Taken at face value, the word evolution simply means change. But Darwin’s theory of gradual (step-by-step) evolution by variation of inherited characteristics and natural selection (differential survival based on the level of adaptation) removed both theological and teleological explanations from the process of biological evolution and placed humans firmly in the natural world. The modern neo-Darwinian synthetic theory of evolution combines Darwin’s focus on gradual (step-by-step) change based on variation of inherited characteristics and natural selection with modern population genetics. Both Darwin’s original theory and the modern synthetic theory of evolution explain change within a species, the rise of new species, and the more dramatic kinds of change such as the rise of mammals, primates, and eventually human beings as a result of the same step-by-step process (Mayr, 2001, 2004).

At the risk of oversimplifying slightly, it should be noted that the neo-Darwinian synthesis formulated by Thedosius Dobzhansky and Ernst Mayr in the 1950s has given rise to two sometimes opposing strands within the overarching frame of the synthesis (Mayr, 2004, pp. 133-138). One strand, exemplified by Richard Dawkins, who has written many widely read books on evolution, focuses on the role of genes in building organisms and on the tendency of natural selection to result in highly adapted organisms. This approach is sometimes referred to as the strong adaptationist program in evolutionary biology. It is closely related to fields such as sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, which explain many human behaviors in terms of their evolutionary origins.

Other evolutionary biologists have de-emphasized the role of natural selection and emphasize the importance of understanding biological evolution in terms of emergence, chance, path dependence, satisficing, and punctuated equilibrium. Richard Lewontin and the late Stephen J. Gould are two widely read authors who have advocated this position. Both Gould and Lewontin have been strongly critical of biologically based explanations for human behavior.

Although these two differing approaches to evolution are sometime viewed as rivals, they are in actuality complementary to each other. It is important to understand both aspects of biological evolution. In addition, biological evolution is a very complex process, and evolutionary biologists continue to push their field forward. Contemporary research in evolutionary biology focuses on the important interactions between genes, organisms, and their interaction with the environment in the process of development. Evolutionary biologists have also become more aware of the importance of lateral gene transfer and endo-symbiosis in bacteria evolution. However, there is still widespread consensus among evolutionary biologists that the synthetic theory of evolution is a true theory. Evolutionary biologists reject theories that incorporate teleological explanations or inheritance of acquired characteristics because these theories have been discredited empirically. Evolutionary biologists reject theories that are premised on or seek to find evidence of supernatural design as this adds nothing to the explanation and draws the focus of science away from understanding and explaining natural law.

Evolutionary economists often draw on and incorporate concepts developed by evolutionary biologists to explain how economic evolution occurs. For example, many evolutionary economists view economic evolution as a nondirected step-by-step process that is non-teleological (it lacks a specific goal or predetermined endpoint). Many, although not necessarily all, evolutionary economists agree that humans have at least some genetically based cognitive and social predispositions that are a result of genetic evolution. Some examples include the ability to learn a language, to learn social norms, to cooperate in groups, and to develop complex tool kits with which to transform nature into useable goods and services. In addition, the use of the Darwinian concepts of inheritance, variation, and selection as analogs to explain outcomes is pervasive in evolutionary economics. Evolutionary economists also distinguish between specific or microevolution (change that occurs within a sociocultural system) and general or macroevolution (change from one sociocultural system to another).

Some evolutionary economists view the market as natural and as an extended phenotype. Other evolutionary economists argue that evolutionary economics should be viewed as a generalization of the Darwinian concepts of variation, inheritance, and natural selection with each case specifying additional, relevant detail (Hodgson, 2007a; Hodgson & Knudsen, 2006). Others have argued that while Darwinian concepts often provide useful analogies for understanding sociocultural evolution, aspects of sociocultural evolution are distinctly non-Darwinian (Poirot, 2007). For example, in at least some instances, social and economic evolution results from the conscious decisions of groups of purposive agents who intentionally design or redesign human institutions. Also, in the process of socio-cultural evolution, we can pass on cultural traits that we acquire through the process of learning. Biological evolution results in a branching pattern and barriers between different species. But human cultures can always learn from each other. The more emphasis that is placed on purposive design of social institutions and cultural learning as well as the abruptness (instead of the step-by-step nature) of social change, the less Darwinian a model of sociocultural evolution becomes. However, it would be difficult to identify anyone today who argued for a strong teleological concept of sociocultural evolution or who sought to explain sociocultural evolution in terms of divine or supernatural intervention.

Two other important concepts borrowed from the natural sciences, emergence and complexity, also play a key role in evolutionary economics. Emergence means that an observed system results from the complex interaction of the components of the subsystems. This process of interaction gives rise to patterns that would not be predicted from and cannot be reduced to the behaviors of the individual components. However, understanding the system still requires an understanding of its components and the interaction of the components. So it is important to understand what individuals do. And it is also important to understand how individual choices and habits interact with social institutions in a dynamic way. It is often easier to think in mechanical terms. But if we are careless with mechanical analogies, then we can be easily misled.

This raises the question of what it is that evolves in sociocultural evolution. In evolutionary biology, selection takes place at multiple levels but logically requires changes in the gene pool of a population over time (Mayr, 2004, pp. 133-158). This has led some evolutionary economists to suggest that institutions and/or organizational routines provide us with an analog to the gene. Others argue that there is not a precise analog. To understand this debate, we first have to understand what an institution is.

It is popular to define institutions as “rules of the game.” This is a good start, but it confuses the function of institutions with a definition of institutions. A more extensive definition of institution defines an institution as any instituted process, or in other words a shared, learned, ordered, patterned, and ongoing way of thinking, feeling, and acting. Institutions may be tacit and informal or highly organized and structured. By this latter definition, modern firms, medieval manors, technology, nation-states, political ideologies, and even technology are all institutions. In other words, virtually everything that humans do is an instituted process. Institutions are component parts of a sociocultural system.

But to just call everything an “institution” can make it difficult to conduct analysis. So it is useful to draw a distinction between entities such as social ideologies (e.g., Calvinism and democracy), social institutions (e.g., class, caste, kinship, the family, the nation-state), organizations (e.g., the modern firm, the International Monetary Fund, the medieval manor), organizational routines of actors within specific organizations, and technology (the combined set of knowledge, practices, and tool kits used in production). So in that sense, everything in sociocultural systems is constantly evolving. There is no precise analog in sociocultural evolution to the gene pool of a population.

As suggested above, social institutions are part of more general wholes, which it is convenient to term sociocultural systems. A sociocultural system includes the direct patterns of interaction of a society with the ecosystem (its subsistence strategy, technology, and demographic patterns), its social institutions, and its patterns of abstract meaning and value. Many anthropologists classify sociocultural systems by their scale, complexity, and the amount of energy captured by their subsistence strategy. Standard classification includes bands, tribes, chiefdoms, agrarian states, and industrial states, each of which corresponds roughly to subsistence strategies of foraging, horticulture, pastoralism and fishing, settled agriculture, and modern industrial technology. This classification system provides a useful scheme with which to understand the rise of large agrarian empires in the neolithic era and, ultimately, the Industrial Revolution in northwestern Europe. It also provides a useful classificatory schema with which to understand the interaction of multiple kinds of contemporary societies in a globalizing world. However, care must be taken to emphasize the multilinear and dynamic nature of socio-cultural evolution rather than rigidly applying these concepts as a universal and unilinear schema (e.g., see Harris, 1997; Wolf, 1982).

The evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr (2004) argued that biologists who study genetic evolution ask “why” questions while biologists who study things such as biochemistry ask “how” questions. Similarly, many mainstream economists ask “how” questions while evolutionary economists ask “why” questions. While the study of evolutionary economics does not preclude the use of formal mathematical models or quantification, most of its practitioners employ qualitative and interpretive methods. Also, as suggested above, some evolutionary biologists focus on changes that occur at the level of species, while others focus on more dramatic kinds of change. Similarly, evolutionary economists are interested in the study of sociocultural evolution on a grand scale, such as the rise of agrarian empires or modern capitalism, as well more specific, micro-level evolution such as changes in the organizational routines of individual firms.

Consequently, the kinds of issues that evolutionary economists are interested in overlap with the focus of other social sciences and even, in some instances, with the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology. Evolutionary economics reflects a tendency to counter the fragmentation of political economy into disparate social sciences that occurred in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Evolutionary economists, like their counterparts in economic sociology, economic anthropology, and political economy, focus more directly on those institutions with the strongest, most immediate, direct relevance to the process of material provisioning. So there may still be a need for some division of labor in the social sciences. What is of direct relevance will vary according to what is being analyzed in any particular study. An economic historian studying the rise of capitalism may, following Weber, find an understanding of Calvinist theology to be essential. Someone studying financial innovation in twenty-first-century industrialized societies would most likely find the religious affiliation of modern banking executives to be of little interest or relevance.

Research Traditions in Evolutionary Economics

Evolutionary economics is composed of three rival but sometimes overlapping major traditions: the Marxist, the OIE, and the NIE. While there is some degree of ideological overlap between the schools, each of the respective schools tends to share a common overarching ideology. Marxists seek to replace capitalism, OIEs seek to reform capitalism, and NIEs generally view capitalism as beneficent. This is not, notably, to argue that the ideology necessarily determines the empirical and theoretical analysis. Also, as previously noted, Marxists and OIEs seek to replace the standard competitive model while NIEs seek to complement the standard model. However, the reader should be aware that the boundary between the three traditions is often fuzzy, and there is sometimes overlap between the three traditions. Similarly, each of these three schools is composed of multiple strands and has undergone significant change over time.

The remainder of this research paper will focus on outlining in very broad terms a few of the significant themes and concerns of each respective tradition, how these traditions have changed over time, and the contributions of a few representative authors of each of the three traditions. The reader may note that despite the differences between the traditions, there is a strong interest in all three in understanding how technology, social institutions, and cognitive models interact in the process of sociocultural evolution. The division made between the three traditions may be of greater interest and relevance in the United States, where there is a strong correlation between specific organizations and schools of thought. For example, the Association for Evolutionary Economics (AFEE) has been the primary promoter of OIE in the United States. In contrast, the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy (EAEPE) has a much wider umbrella. So there may be hope someday for a grand synthesis of the three respective traditions.

There are, of course, many different Marxist and quasiMarxist models of sociocultural evolution. For the purposes of this research paper, it is convenient to make the differentia specifica of a Marxist model of sociocultural evolution a focus on class struggle: the conflict between social groups defined in terms of differential access to the productive resources of a given society (Dugger & Sherman, 2000). This way of understanding sociocultural evolution is often referred to as historical materialism. While Darwinian reasoning may at times be employed in Marxist theories of sociocultural evolution, Marxists have generally emphasized the non-Darwinian aspects of sociocultural evolution as well as sharp discontinuities between human and infrahuman species. At the same time, it is hard to think of any academic Marxists writing today who would advocate Lysenkoism or Lamarckian theories of inheritance as valid explanatory concepts for understanding genetic evolution.

To understand historical materialism, we must begin with Marx’s concept of the mode of production (for extended discussions, see Wolf, 1982, chap. 3, and also Fusfeld, 1977). A mode of production includes the techno-environmental relationships (e.g., agriculture based on a plough or factories using steam engines) and the social relationships of production (e.g., warlords and peasants or factory owners and workers) or, in Marxist jargon, the forces of production and the social relations of production, respectively. These relationships between groups of people in Marx’s view are characterized by unequal relations of power, domination, subordination, and exploitation. This gives rise to social conflict over the terms of access to and the distribution of the productive resources of society. Social conflict requires the creation of a coercive entity to enforce the interests of the dominant social class (i.e., a state). In addition, human beings develop complex ideologies with which to justify their positions. Thus, the entire civilization (or what above is termed a sociocultural system) rests on a given mode of production, with the mode of production distinguished by the primary means of mobilizing labor (e.g., slavery, serfdom, wage labor).

In his analysis of Western history, Marx distinguished between the primitive commune, the slave mode of production of the ancient Roman Empire, the Germanic mode of production, the feudal mode of production of medieval Europe, and the modern capitalist mode of production. In analyzing Western history, Marx argued that each successive mode of production had produced technological advance, thus elevating the material level of human existence.

Capitalism, in Marx’s view, is qualitatively different from extended commodity production. Capitalism requires that land, labor, and capital are fully treated as commodities. This means that labor is “free” in the sense of not being legally bound to perform labor for the dominant class and “free” in the sense that it has no claim to the resources needed to produce goods and services. Therefore, capital is used as a means to finance innovation in production, and labor is compelled by economic circumstances to sell its labor power. Because capitalism promotes endless accumulation of capital, it is thus far the most successful in a material sense. However, the dynamic of capitalist accumulation gives rise to periodic crises, and it is therefore unstable. In addition, it is often destructive of human relationships. So a relationship of apparent freedom is in actuality a relationship of power, subordination, and domination that will give rise to social conflict. The only way to end this conflict, in Marx’s view, is to redesign social institutions so as to pro-mote both development of the forces of production and social cooperation (i.e., replace capitalism with socialism). There is disagreement among scholars who study Marx as to whether Marx thought that the triumph of socialism over capitalism was inevitable.

Insofar as one seeks to explain the historical origins of capitalism and the Industrial Revolution, two historical epochs are of particular relevance. Marxist historians and Marxist economists (and many others) with a particular interest in economic history thus often refer to two transitions (one from antiquity to feudalism and the other from feudalism to capitalism) as giving rise to modern capitalism. Howard Sherman (1995, 2006), a well-known Marxist economist, has summarized and synthesized much of this existing literature.

Sherman traces Western economic history from tribal organization through the rise of modern capitalism. Sherman is a materialist who analyzes societies by starting with the material base of human existence and examines the interaction between technology, economic institutions, social institutions, and ideologies. Technology and technological innovation as well as social conflict between classes are key variables in Sherman’s analysis. But overall, Sherman’s schema is holistic and interactive, rather than mechanical or reductionist.

In analyzing the breakdown of feudalism, Sherman focuses on the tripartite class conflict between peasants, nobles, and monarchs and the ability of each of the respective classes to force an outcome on the other classes. As a consequence of this conflict, a new pattern of relationships based on private property and production for profit in a market, as well as increasingly organized around new sources of mechanical power, gave rise to a unique and extremely productive system referred to as capitalism. This system of production encourages constant cost cutting, innovation, and capital accumulation, thus leading to the potential for the progressive material elevation of human society.

However, capitalist society is still riven by conflict between property-less workers and property-owning capitalists. Because the capitalist has a monopoly over the productive resources of society, the capitalist is still able to compel the worker to produce a surplus for the capitalist. This creates social conflict between the capitalist and worker and also forces the capitalist into an ultimately self-defeating boom-and-bust cycle of rising profits and increasing concentrations of capital, followed by falling rates of profit, leading to cycles of recession and crisis. The institutional structure of capitalism also magnifies other social conflicts and problems such as environmental degradation and destruction, as well as relations between racial and ethnic groups and genders. The solution to this social conflict, in Sherman’s view, is to replace the institutions of capitalism with economic democracy (i.e., democratic socialism).

Sherman, who has long been a critic of Stalinist-style socialism, also extends his analysis to change in Russia and the Soviet Union. The October Revolution of 1917 occurred because neither the czar nor the Mensheviks were able to satisfy the material aspirations of the vast majority of Russians. But industrialization in the Soviet Union became a nondemocratic, elite-directed process due primarily to the particular circumstances surrounding the Bolshevik Revolution, the ensuing civil war, and the problems of the New Economic Policy. In time, factions among the elites developed as the Soviet economy proved unable to satisfy the material aspirations of the majority of the Soviet population. This created new pressure for change as elites were able to capture this process. Due also to pressure from the West, change in the former Soviet Union took the direction of restoring capitalism rather than developing greater economic democracy.

It should be noted that the standard Marxist model of historical materialism focuses on the ability of capitalism to elevate the material capacity of human societies. This focus has been challenged by the rise of world systems and dependency theory. Theorists who follow this line of thinking focus on the uneven nature of development and the tendency of core economies to place boundaries on the development of formerly colonized areas of the world. Some theorists in this tradition have been justly accused of having a rather muddled conception of the term capitalism, insofar as they claim inspiration from Marx. The late Eric Wolf (1982), a well-known economic anthropologist, resolved many of these conceptual issues in his book Europe and the People Without History. So rather than assume that capitalism leads uniformly to material progress, Wolf extended the historical materialist model to analyze the process of uneven development in the world system as a whole. In their textbook on economic development, James Cypher and James Dietz (2004) provide an excellent history and exposition of classical Marxism, dependency theory, and extended analysis and discussion of the new institutional economics, original institutional economics, and modernization theory.

Thorstein Veblen (1898) was the founder of OIE, and his influence on OIE continues to be prevalent (Hodgson, 2004). Veblen was strongly influenced by Darwin’s theory of biological evolution and held evolutionary science as the standard for the social sciences, including economics, to emulate. He was also deeply influenced by the evolutionary epistemology of the American pragmatists Charles Saunders Peirce and John Dewey. In addition, he incorporated the contrasting positions of nineteenth-century evolutionist anthropology, as exhibited by the work of Tylor and Morgan, and the historical particularism of Franz Boas. Although he was strongly critical of Marx and of Marxism, there are both parallels as well as differences in the writings of Marx and Veblen.

Like Marx, Veblen focused on the importance of understanding the interaction of changes in technology, social institutions, and social ideologies as well as social conflict. Veblen also had a stage theory of history, which he borrowed from the prevailing anthropological schemas of his day. However, where Marx focuses on concepts such as class and mode of production, Veblen focuses on instituted processes and the conflicts created by vested interests seeking to reinforce invidious distinctions. Veblen’s model of sociocultural evolution is a conflict model in that it focuses broadly on social conflict that arises in the struggle for access to power, prestige, and property. But it is not a class-based model in the sense that Marxists use class.

In “Why Is Economics Not an Evolutionary Science?” (1898) and in “The Preconceptions of Economic Science” (1899) , Veblen developed a critique of the mainstream economics of his day. In developing this critique, Veblen was critical of the abstract and a priori nature of much of mainstream economic analysis. In articulating this point, he contrasted the “a priori method” with the “matter of fact method.” This particular aspect of Veblen’s criticism has often led some to view both Veblen and later OIEs as “atheoretical.” But this misses the point for at least two reasons.

Veblen did not eschew theoretical analysis per se. He was however, critical of theory that divorced itself from understanding actual, real-world processes of material provisioning. But most important, in Veblen’s view, economics was not up to the standards of evolutionary science because economics continued to implicitly embrace the concepts of natural price and natural law by focusing on economics as the study of economizing behavior and the adjustment of markets to equilibrium. In contrast, Veblen argued that the process of material provisioning entailed a constant process of adaptation to the physical and social environment through the adjustment of institutions or deeply ingrained social habits based on instinct. Veblen’s understanding of the term institution was broad enough to encompass any instituted process. Yet he drew a sharp distinction between institutions and technology. He was sharply critical of the former and strongly in favor of the latter.

When Veblen wrote about deep-seated and persistent social habits developing on the basis of genetically based instincts, he did in fact appear to mean something similar to contemporary theories of gene-culture evolution. Social habits are not consciously thought-through, purposive behaviors—they develop out of the complex “reflex arc” of enculturation based on genetically based propensities to act in the presence of environmental stimuli. Instincts are acquired through genetic evolution and social habits through enculturation. Both are inherited, vary in nature, and may therefore be selected for or against in the process of sociocultural evolution (Hodgson, 2004, Part III). However, Veblen also borrowed from Dewey a view of socialization in which individuals are active participants in socialization, a concept that was later more clearly articulated by Meade. In addition, Veblen also emphasized the ability of humans to conceptualize and engage in purposive behavior.

Veblen drew a sharp dichotomy between the instinct of workmanship and the instinct of predation. He associated the instinct of workmanship with a focus on adaptive, problem-solving, tinkering, and innovative behavior. In contrast, he associated predation with a focus on brute force, ceremonial displays of power, emulative behavior, conspicuous consumption, financial speculation, and the power of vested interests. Veblen argued that the instinct of workmanship arose in the primitive stage of human history (roughly corresponding to what contemporary anthropologists would term bands and tribes) and that the instinct of predation emerged during the stage of barbarism (roughly corresponding to the rise of chiefdoms). These instincts gave rise to deep-seated social habits. Both instincts continued to be present during the rise of civilization (agrarian states) and persisted in modern civilization (industrial states). But because modern civilization is based on the rise and extensive application of machine technology, further progress would require the triumph of the instinct of workmanship over the instinct of predation.

But in Veblen’s view, there was no reason to expect this would necessarily occur. Vested interests were often capable of instituting their power to reinforce the instinct of predation. Hence, institutions often served to encapsulate and reinforce the instinct of predation. The behaviors of predation were primarily exhibited by the new “leisure class” or, in other words, the robber barons of the late nineteenth century. In contrast, workmen and engineers often exhibited the instinct of workmanship. Consequently, Veblen tended to view institutions in general as change inhibiting and the instinct of workmanship as change promoting.

In later works, Veblen extended this kind of analysis to study other topics such as changes in firm organization and the business cycle. Veblen argued that as modern firms became larger and more monopolistic, a permanent leisure class arose, thus displacing technological thinking among this new class. In addition, increasing amounts of time and energy were channeled into financial speculation, leading to repeated financial crises. Emulative behavior in the form of conspicuous consumption and ceremonial displays of patriotism and militarism served to reinforce the instinct of predation. In his analysis of the rise of militarism in Prussia, Veblen noted the socially devastating impact of the triumph of the instinct of predation. Thus, Veblen tended to identify institutions with imbecilic behaviors that serve to block the triumph of technological innovations.

Veblen’s focus on the conflict between the instinct of workmanship and predatory and pecuniary instincts is often referred to as the instrumental-ceremonial dichotomy. Ayres (1938) in particular reinforced the tendency of the OIE to focus on the past binding and ceremonial aspects of institutions and on the scientific and progressive nature of instrumental reasoning. This dichotomy was, at one point in time, a core proposition of the OIE.

Most contemporary OIEs, however, recognize and accept that at least some institutions can promote and facilitate progressive change and that technology itself is an institution. This rethinking of the ceremonial-instrumental dichotomy is also reflected in the incorporation of Karl Polanyi’s (1944) dichotomy between habitation and improvement. Polanyi noted that the need for social pro-tection may actually serve a noninvidious purpose. Some improvements destroy livelihoods and reinforce invidious distinctions while others promote the life process. So the distinction might better be thought of in terms of “invidious versus noninvidious.”

One OIE who had a more positive understanding of the role of institutions is J. R. Commons (Commons, 1970; Wunder & Kemp, 2008). Commons in particular focused on the need for order in society and thus addressed the evolution of legal systems and the state. Commons’s theory is primarily microevolutionary insofar as he focuses on the evolution of legal arrangements and shifting power alignments in modern industrial states. Commons is not as critical of existing arrangements as Veblen. Institutions, including the state, in Commons’s view, are clearly both necessary and potentially beneficial. For example, with the rise of big business, labor conflict, and the problems inherent in the business cycle, there is a need for a strong state to manage this conflict. At the same time, Commons developed a theory of the business cycle that has strong elements in common with some of Keynes’s analysis.

The Veblenian strand as expressed by Commons is, by the standards of American politics, moderately left of center in that it expresses support for much of the regulatory framework and expanded role of government in managing the business cycle that came out of the New Deal and the publication of Keynes’s (1936) The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. Not surprisingly, a number of OIE economists have begun to attempt to synthesize OIE and Keynes, relying to a large degree on the work of Hyman Minsky (1982). This project, often referred to as PKI (post-Keynesian institutionalism), is microevolution-ary in nature in that it focuses on the problems of financial instability created by financial innovation and deregulation. The goal of PKI is wisely managed capitalism (Whalen, 2008). PKI clearly has a focus on the possibility of designing effective institutions, which logically implies that at least some institutions can embody instrumental reasoning.

In contrast to the direction taken by some OIEs, Hodgson (2004) has argued that Veblen’s focus on technological thinking and the Commons-Ayres trend in OIE was a wrong turn for OIE. He has sought to revivify OIE by reinterpreting Veblenian economics as generalized Darwinism. Generalized Darwinism, according to Hodgson, generalizes the basic principles of Darwin’s biological theory of evolution (inheritance, variation, and selection) to sociocultural evolution. In Hodgson’s view, the mechanisms of inheritance, variation, and selection are not just analogies or metaphors to explain outcomes in social evolution—they are ontological principles that describe any entity that evolves. As noted above, because institutions and organizational routines are inherited through cultural learning and vary, they are subject to selection. Social evolution is therefore a special case of the more general case of evolution.

However, Hodgson (2004) also acknowledges that human agents are purposive and that culture is an emergent phenomenon. So Hodgson is not seeking to biologize social inequality or to reduce the social sciences to genetic principles such as inclusive fitness. Indeed, as Hodgson states, “more is needed” than just the principles of inheritance, variation, and natural selection. This would appear to be an understanding of how social institutions, in concert with instincts and human agency, generate outcomes in a complex, emergent process of social evolution. To this end, Hodgson has incorporated some elements of structure agency theory into his analysis.

Hodgson’s program could be taken as an injunction to OIEs to build models of change that incorporate both Darwinian principles as well as more complex concepts of structure and agency. Hodgson has used this model to explain how changes in firm organization can be selected for or against by changes in market structure. So there are strong parallels between the work of Hodgson and that of Nelson and Winter (1982), who could notably be placed in either the OIE or NIE camp. As noted in the preceding section, Hodgson’s view of evolutionary economics as “generalized Darwinism” is controversial, even among his fellow OIEs.

One competing strand of Veblenian economics is the radical strand as advocated by Bill Dugger (Dugger & Sherman, 2000). Dugger focuses on the role of technology, instrumental reasoning, and institutions as providing the capacity for improving the material condition of humans. The full application of instrumental reasoning, however, in Dugger’s view is blocked by the key institutions of capitalism. These institutions are reinforced by ceremonial myths. Dugger also puts more emphasis on the social and ideological implications of the respective traditions and has been sharply critical of the NIE. He has also notably been instrumental in promoting dialogue between Marxists and OIEs and has often copublished works on sociocultural evolution with Howard Sherman. Dugger also tends to emphasize the non-Darwinian nature of sociocultural evolution.

It can be fairly argued that Adam Smith was the first evolutionary economist, even though his contributions predate any significant consideration of biological evolution by naturalists. Adam Smith provides an account of how an increasingly complex society arises out of the natural propensity of humans to truck, barter, and exchange (Fusfeld, 1977; Smith, 1776/1937). Ironically, some of Smith’s concerns with specialization and division of labor, as well as the writings of another political economist, Thomas Malthus, influenced Darwin. Many Social Darwinists in the late nineteenth century drew on Darwinian reasoning to explain how competitive markets work and to justify social inequality. Some twentieth-century theorists such as Frederick Hayek and Larry Arnhart have tended to view the market as a natural outgrowth of human genetic endowments.

Taken as a whole, however, evolutionary explanations fell out of favor among economists in the twentieth century. In the late nineteenth century, the social sciences became increasingly fragmented, and the new field of economics increasingly lost its evolutionary focus. With the triumph of the standard competitive model in the mid-twentieth century, economics became narrowly focused on providing formal mathematical proofs of narrowly defined “how” questions. However, there are some signs that the standard competitive model is in the process of being displaced by game theory. There is also widespread recognition that it is necessary to supplement the standard competitive model with an evolutionary account. These developments have led to an increased acceptance of evolutionary explanations among mainstream economists and renewed attention to the importance of institutions in framing economic outcomes.

Some strands of the NIE, particularly the version espoused by Coase (1974) and Williamson (1985), view institutions primarily as providing “solutions” to the problems of asymmetric information and transactions costs. This strand of NIE does not significantly challenge the standard competitive model or its underlying behavioral assumptions. To the contrary, it is a complement to the standard competitive model. It is also to a large degree a micro-oriented theory of sociocultural evolution.

A more dynamic view of economic evolution is that of Joseph Schumpeter (1908, 1950). Schumpeter focused on the individual entrepreneur and his role in promoting technological innovation. This technological innovation disturbs the equilibrium and leads to gales of creative destruction. However, with the rise of the modern, bureaucratically organized firm, the role of the entrepreneur was lessened, leading to a static and moribund organization. Schumpeter thought that this would eventually lead to the destruction of capitalism, an outcome that, in contrast to Marx, Schumpeter viewed in a negative way. Schumpeter, however, drew a strong distinction between statics, exemplified by the Walrasian model of his day, and dynamics, exemplified by theories of economic evolution. Thus, “dynamics” was intended to complement “statics” (Andersen, 2008). Many contemporary mainstream models of economic growth, often referred to as new growth theory, explicitly incorporate Schumpeterian analysis.

Some of the richness of Schumpeter’s focus on technological innovation as gales of creative destruction has been recaptured by the economic historian Joel Mokyr (1990) in his masterful work on technological progress. Mokyr adapts Gould’s concept of “punctuated equilibrium” to the history of technology. He also draws a distinction between invention (the rise of new techniques and processes) and innovation (the spread of these new techniques). The Industrial Revolution, in Mokyr’s view, is ongoing but is nevertheless a clear instance of a dramatic change in technological and social organization. Similarly, the work of Nelson and Winter (1982), previously cited, which acknowledges the contributions of Veblen, can also be considered neo-Schumpeterian. There are, it should be noted, significant parallels between Marx, Schumpeter, and Veblen, as well as differences.

The most prominent and most successful NIE, of course, is Douglas North. North’s career has spanned several decades, during which his contributions to multiple fields in economics have been voluminous. Notably, North’s own views themselves have undergone significant evolution. North’s (1981) earlier work on economic evolution was an application of the work of Coase (1974) and Williamson (1985) to the problem of economic evolution and did not significantly challenge the standard competitive model. North viewed economic evolution as taking place due to changing resource constraints in response to the growth in population as rational agents calculated the marginal costs and marginal benefits of shifting from foraging to farming.

North’s later work (1990, 1991, 1994), however, has challenged many aspects of the standard competitive model. North has focused specifically on the role institutions play in cognitive framing of decision making. Notably, North has explicitly abandoned the theory of strong rational choice in favor of models of human behavior that focus on the limited ability of humans to obtain, process, and act on information. In most textbook models of market behavior, price is the primary means of providing information. But in North’s view of markets, information encompasses much more than price. In addition, norms, values, and ideology can blunt the ability of humans to obtain and interpret some information. North is not arguing that humans are “irrational” as his approach still logically implies some degree of calculation and conscious decision making based on self-interest. But he has abandoned the strong view of rationality, which implies humans are lightning rods of hedonic calculation. In that sense, his view of human behavior is much closer to that of the Austrians in focusing on the purposiveness of human behavior.

For the most part, North tends to see institutions as constraints on human action, though he acknowledges that institutions can provide incentives both in terms of the things we actually do, as well as the things that we do not do. Thus, institutions that reward innovative behavior, risk seeking, and trade will lead to efficient outcomes. Institutions that reward rent seeking and prohibit innovation and trade will lead to inefficient outcomes. Once an institutional structure is set, there is a strong degree of inertia that perpetuates the existing institutional structure. In other words, evolutionary paths, in North’s view, tend to be path dependent. Clearly, the kinds of institutions in North’s view that promote efficient outcomes are those that clearly define the rules of the game in favor of the operation of markets. This does not necessarily imply laissez-faire as the state may still be necessary to perform multiple functions. It does serve to distinguish between states, such as Great Britain in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries or South Korea in the past several decades, that were able to define an institutional framework that promoted innovation and growth as opposed to states such as Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries or in the Congo (Zaire) today that destroy any incentive for innovation and economic growth.

This raises two very interesting questions. How does a particular type of path become established, and how does it change? North’s explanation is one that is rooted in a metaphor of variation and selection. Greater variation will allow for a higher probability that a particular path will be successful. Greater centralization will reduce variation and increase the chances that the state will adopt or promote institutions that blunt technological and social innovation. North explains the greater success of Europe versus the rest of the world as a result of the relative decentralization of Europe in the early modern period. Arbitrary authoritarian states that destroyed incentives for growth such as Spain existed. But Spain was unable to impose its will on Europe or on the emerging world market. Consequently, this enabled states such as England, where the power of the Crown became limited as Parliament enacted laws to protect commercial interests and innovation, to industrialize rapidly and emerge as world leaders. These contrasting paths were transferred to the New World. The United States inherited and successfully modified the institutional framework of Britain and therefore developed. Latin America inherited and failed to successfully modify the institutional frame-work of absolutist Spain and developed much more slowly.

Evolutionary economics clearly has a future. Economists in general are becoming more attuned to the importance of understanding how humans organize the economy through institutions and how institutions change over time. This entails extensive borrowing of concepts from evolutionary biology and a reconsideration of the underlying behavioral assumptions of mainstream economics. Understanding how institutions permit or inhibit changes in technology, as well as how changes in technology in turn require changes in institutions, is a concern of all three schools of evolutionary economics. As NIE economists push the boundaries of the mainstream, at least some have increasingly asked heterodox questions, and a few have been willing to acknowledge heterodox contributions. Some Marxist and OIE scholars have also begun to note that at least some versions of NIE, if not necessarily entirely new, are at least genuinely institutional and evolutionary. Any grand synthesis seems distant, but there is at least a basis for further argumentation and even dialogue.


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economics research paper conclusion

How Are Insurance Markets Adapting to Climate Change? Risk Selection and Regulation in the Market for Homeowners Insurance

As climate risk escalates, property insurance is critical to reduce the risk exposure of households and firms and to aid recovery when disasters strike. To perform these functions efficiently, insurers need to access high quality information about disaster risk and set prices that accurately reflect the costs of insuring this risk. We use proprietary data on parcel-level wildfire risk, together with insurance premiums derived from insurers' regulatory filings, to investigate how insurance is priced and provided in a large market for homeowners insurance. We document striking variation in insurers' risk pricing strategies. Firms that rely on coarser measures of wildfire risk charge relatively high prices in high-risk market segments -- or choose not to serve these areas at all. Empirical results are consistent with a winner's curse, where firms with less granular pricing strategies face higher expected losses. A theoretical model of a market for natural hazard insurance that incorporates both price regulation and asymmetric information across insurers helps rationalize the empirical patterns we document. Our results highlight the underappreciated importance of the winner's curse as a driver of high prices and limited participation in insurance markets for large, hard-to-model risks.

We thank seminar participants at the NBER Summer Institute, NBER Insurance Working Group, the 2023 ASSA meetings, the 2024 AERE Summer Conference, TWEEDS, University of Chicago, Harvard University, MIT, Indiana University, Resources for the Future, the New York Federal Reserve, the San Francisco Federal Reserve, Stanford University, University of Alaska Anchorage, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, University of Southern California, University of Wisconsin, University of Illinois, University of Calgary, Georgia State University, and Oregon State University. We thank Josh Aarons, Kaleb Javier, and Kendra Marcoux for outstanding research assistance. We thank Benjamin Collier, Chris Costello, Mark Duggan, Penny Liao, Philip Mulder, and Joel Sobel for helpful discussions. This work received generous financial support from the University of California Office of the President Laboratory Fees Program (LFR-20-652467). Boomhower gratefully acknowledges funding via an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. CoreLogic, Inc. is a source of data for this analysis. CoreLogic was not involved in the preparation of any aspect of the report. Any conclusions/interpretations of the CoreLogic data are those of the authors of the report, and not CoreLogic. CoreLogic is not responsible for any use of, nor any decisions based on or in reliance on, the CoreLogic data used in the report. CoreLogic does not represent or warrant that the CoreLogic data is complete or free from error and does not assume, and expressly disclaims, any liability to any person or entity for any loss or damage caused or resulting in whole or in part by any reliance on the CoreLogic data including, but not limited to, any loss or damage caused or resulting in whole or in part by errors or omissions in the CoreLogic data, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or other cause. CoreLogic® is the registered trademark of CoreLogic, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries or affiliates. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.


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Australia Economic Trends Report: Productivity Crisis Overstated, But Downturn Needs to End Soon

July 7, 2024 @ 4:55 pm By Omar Faridi

Productivity growth goes in cycles and Australia is currently within the normal bounds of a low productivity growth period, rather than a “crisis” as commonly characterized, according to a research report from KPMG .

However, there would be cause for concern if this downturn continues to drag on. This is the conclusion of a new KPMG policy paper, Trends in Australia ’s productivity growth, that also identifies the key factors “driving labor productivity and makes suggestions for policy intervention.”

KPMG econometric analysis – using “the same framework as the US Federal Reserve –shows Australia’s high productivity growth cycles tend to last for around two years, while lower productivity periods tend to last slightly longer, typically three years.”

The previous high was in December 2022 as they “emerged from the Covid lockdowns, which were – perhaps counter-intuitively – a time of higher productivity.”

The paper says there are some reasons “for optimism, given the close correlation with the productivity cycles of the US economy, which is itself showing signs of emerging from a low growth period.”

However, low levels of technology investment and business confidence “coupled with persistently elevated unit labor costs may impede a productivity growth uptick.”

The analysis shows that more than half of aggregate labor productivity growth in Australia can be explained by three factors:

  • The productivity that occurred in the last quarter – a momentum effect
  • How many new workers entered the workforce – they are likely to be less experienced or lower-skilled than the existing workers. When the labour market is tight, as at present, marginal new workers will come from the pool of long-term unemployed, who are likely to require additional support to be as productive as other employees
  • The addition of skilled foreign workers helps because they boost the productivity of native-born workers and bring in specialization, new skills, ideas, or innovation. This effect occurs with a lag.

Given that the structure of the labor market has played “a central role in the current slowdown, the paper points to labor and migration levers that can be pulled to mitigate the cyclicality of productivity growth.”

It recommends three ‘key pillars’ to lifting productivity:

  • improved education and training for unemployed people
  • a re-design of migration to ensure supply and best utilisation of skilled migrants
  • ensuring sufficient flexibility to allow for labor mobility.

The current, historic, low level of unemployment has “led to an unusually high participation rate, which has meant an influx of marginal new workers, some of them previously long-term unemployed, who during softer employment markets may have faced challenges finding work.”

This has contributed to the current low productivity growth cycle, the paper argues.

There is also the ongoing impacts of ‘labor hoarding’, a COVID-era phenomenon “where companies held on to workers, perhaps unnecessarily.”

On net overseas migration, the report points to “some mixed evidence during and after the COVID period, where the sharp fall in migration levels may have disproportionately impacted low-skilled workers or those in sectors less relevant to productivity growth.”

However it also points to longer-term studies “which demonstrate the clear link between skilled migration and higher productivity.”

The paper argues that the return of migrants “to Australia since late 2022 has helped improve the skills matching rate in the labor market, although this is still a prevalent issue.”

KPMG research shows that while labor productivity “is the key factor influencing wage growth across all industries, adopting universal policy settings is unlikely to generate optimum outcomes.”

Instead, the adoption of tailored policies “for capital and labor – and an appropriate sharing of returns between them – on an industry-by-industry basis, is likely to increase economic potential.”

The analysis also shows there is “an inverse relationship between the rates of growth of the real producer wage and of employment.”

Higher real wages, unless backed up by strong productivity growth, “can lead to lower employment levels. Industries using high-tech assets in their production processes are more likely to be able to sustain wage growth.”

Dr Brendan Rynne , KPMG Chief Economist and report lead author, said:

“Productivity is the key driver of real wage growth and so policymakers are right to be concerned about periods of low productivity growth, as we are experiencing currently. Our analysis indicates strongly that fluctuations in productivity are a normal part of economic cycles across nations, but there should be concern where those periods become extended and stretch beyond what history shows us is a typical downswing cycle.”

As noted in the update:

“Australia should be looking to emerge from the current low in the productivity cycle by the middle of next year. Encouragingly, recent data from the US is indicating a resurgence in productivity and, given the numerous economic parallels between the two countries, including similar industrial structures, technological adoption rates, and labor market dynamics, it is reasonable to anticipate that Australia will follow suit and experience a similar productivity rebound in the near future.”

However, he added:

“While some positive indicators, like increased demand for skilled workers, offer some hope, other signs are less encouraging. Technology investment remains low, potentially hindering the adoption of productivity-enhancing tools and processes. Business sentiment also remains low, indicating a lack of confidence that could impede investment and innovation.”

economics research paper conclusion

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The Case against Legalizing Marijuana: Health Social and Economic Concerns

This essay is about the reasons why marijuana should not be legalized focusing on health risks social implications and economic consequences. It highlights the adverse health effects particularly for young people and the potential for marijuana to act as a gateway drug. The essay discusses the social challenges of increased drug-related crimes and the strain on law enforcement. It also examines the economic drawbacks such as increased healthcare costs and the dubious long-term benefits of job creation in the marijuana industry. Additionally it addresses public safety concerns related to impaired driving and the cultural impact of normalizing drug use.

How it works

Marijuana legalization sparks intense debates with folks arguing fiercely on both sides. Yet the case against it packs a punch when you weigh up the potential health risks social changes and economic fallout. While some sing praises for legalizing pot it’s crucial to dig into what all this could mean for us.

First off you can’t brush aside the health risks tied to using marijuana. Loads of studies link it to serious health problems especially among young folks. Regular use can mess with how your brain works like memory and focus and mess with your mental health too boosting the chances of feeling anxious down or even having hallucinations.

This is even riskier for teens and young adults whose brains are still cooking. Making weed easier to get and more normal might just boost how much it’s used by these young folks leading to even more brain and mental harm over time.

Then there’s the worry that marijuana could open the door to harder drugs. Not every person who lights up a joint goes on to harder stuff but many drug stories start with easier-to-find and okayed-by-society drugs. If we make marijuana legal some say it might seem less risky to try pushing more folks to try it and maybe move on to more dangerous stuff. That’s bad news for people and communities making addiction and drug issues even tougher to beat.

Thinking about the social side some say legalizing weed could ease the pressure on police and courts cutting down on arrests and folks going to jail for marijuana stuff. But hold up—that might just swap one problem for another. Legal weed could become a target for crime like theft or selling it on the sly where it’s still against the law. Plus cops might have a tough time keeping tabs on the new legal weed market taking focus away from other big issues.

Economic perks are another big sell for legalizing marijuana. People say it could rake in a ton of money in taxes and make new jobs. Sure a legal weed industry could bring in cash but we gotta weigh it against what it might cost. More people using and maybe getting hooked could mean higher healthcare bills and more money spent on making sure the rules stick and everyone stays safe. Plus some say most jobs in the weed biz might not pay well or last long leaving workers hanging for steady pay.

Now let’s talk about safety on our streets. Using marijuana messes with how you move and think upping the odds of accidents and injuries. Legalizing it could mean more folks driving while high a big no-no for keeping roads safe. Sure there might be strict rules to stop this but keeping an eye on it for real is hard. Figuring out if someone’s too stoned to drive and making sure weed doesn’t end up everywhere is a real challenge.

Lastly think about how this could change how we see things as a society. Making marijuana normal might make drug use seem okay and cut the shame that goes with it. That could be a big deal especially for younger folks who might think using weed’s no big deal. But who knows what this could mean down the road? It might just boost drug use and how many folks get hooked.

In the end while some say legalizing marijuana’s a good idea the health risks social shifts and money mess it could bring are major reasons to think twice. Messing with public health maybe boosting crime not-so-solid cash gains and putting safety at risk are big worries we can’t just ignore. As we keep talking about this tough topic we gotta put folks and communities first and not just chase short-term cash.

Remember this is just a starting point to think about and look into more. For more help making sure your thoughts on this line up with what’s needed think about reaching out to folks who know this stuff well like those at EduBirdie.


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