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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?

You can also get an expert to proofread and feedback your paper with a paper editing service .

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economics research paper conclusion

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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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.

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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 benefits and drawbacks of a carbon tax
  • The toll of immigration on economics
  • The impact of AI on employment and wages
  • Private insurance VS universal coverage
  • The benefits and drawbacks of Free Trade Agreements
  • The role of government in the Economy: Keynesian VS Neoliberal perspectives
  • Should education be free?
  • The impact of income inequality economic growth
  • The cost of an aging population
  • The role of big tech in economics
  • The impact of covid-19 on the global economy
  • Universal Basic Income: Does it fix poverty?
  • The gig economy: a new threat to traditional employment
  • Crime economics: the costs of punishment and rehabilitation
  • Bioeconomy: Pros and cons of biodegradable plastics
  • Small governments with big impact: Benefits of minimalist economic policy
  • Silicon Valley and the Tech industry: Is it innovation or monopoly?
  • Does Apple Inc. hold a monopoly in the tech business?
  • The role of the economic model in policy discussion and decision-making
  • The contribution of abstract economic models to real-world analysis and policy-making
  • Describing the quality of life: Measuring economic and social well-being beyond GDP
  • The role of abstract economic concepts in shaping policy and practice
  • Subjectivity in economics paper: Can there be a single 'correct' answer to economic questions?
  • The future of economics papers: embracing interdisciplinary approaches and open access publishing
  • Social entrepreneurship: Innovations in Economic and Social Development
  • Social welfare policies and economic outcomes
  • The impact of tech companies on small business growth
  • The economics of consumer behavior: links between consumer decisions and economics outcomes
  • The economics of customer satisfaction: the drivers of loyalty and retention
  • The economics of social influence: Social networks and decision-making

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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Related Articles

 How to Write a Policy Analysis Paper Step-by-Step

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 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.

Write your research paper conclusion 2x faster with Paperpal. Try it now!

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.

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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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.

Conclusion:

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.

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economics research paper conclusion

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Methods Used in Economic Research: An Empirical Study of Trends and Levels

The methods used in economic research are analyzed on a sample of all 3,415 regular research papers published in 10 general interest journals every 5th year from 1997 to 2017. The papers are classified into three main groups by method: theory, experiments, and empirics. The theory and empirics groups are almost equally large. Most empiric papers use the classical method, which derives an operational model from theory and runs regressions. The number of papers published increases by 3.3% p.a. Two trends are highly significant: The fraction of theoretical papers has fallen by 26 pp (percentage points), while the fraction of papers using the classical method has increased by 15 pp. Economic theory predicts that such papers exaggerate, and the papers that have been analyzed by meta-analysis confirm the prediction. It is discussed if other methods have smaller problems.

1 Introduction

This paper studies the pattern in the research methods in economics by a sample of 3,415 regular papers published in the years 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2017 in 10 journals. The analysis builds on the beliefs that truth exists, but it is difficult to find, and that all the methods listed in the next paragraph have problems as discussed in Sections 2 and 4. Hereby I do not imply that all – or even most – papers have these problems, but we rarely know how serious it is when we read a paper. A key aspect of the problem is that a “perfect” study is very demanding and requires far too much space to report, especially if the paper looks for usable results. Thus, each paper is just one look at an aspect of the problem analyzed. Only when many studies using different methods reach a joint finding, we can trust that it is true.

Section 2 discusses the classification of papers by method into three main categories: (M1) Theory , with three subgroups: (M1.1) economic theory, (M1.2) statistical methods, and (M1.3) surveys. (M2) Experiments , with two subgroups: (M2.1) lab experiments and (M2.2) natural experiments. (M3) Empirics , with three subgroups: (M3.1) descriptive, (M3.2) classical empirics, and (M3.3) newer empirics. More than 90% of the papers are easy to classify, but a stochastic element enters in the classification of the rest. Thus, the study has some – hopefully random – measurement errors.

Section 3 discusses the sample of journals chosen. The choice has been limited by the following main criteria: It should be good journals below the top ten A-journals, i.e., my article covers B-journals, which are the journals where most research economists publish. It should be general interest journals, and the journals should be so different that it is likely that patterns that generalize across these journals apply to more (most?) journals. The Appendix gives some crude counts of researchers, departments, and journals. It assesses that there are about 150 B-level journals, but less than half meet the criteria, so I have selected about 15% of the possible ones. This is the most problematic element in the study. If the reader accepts my choice, the paper tells an interesting story about economic research.

All B-level journals try hard to have a serious refereeing process. If our selection is representative, the 150 journals have increased the annual number of papers published from about 7,500 in 1997 to about 14,000 papers in 2017, giving about 200,000 papers for the period. Thus, the B-level dominates our science. Our sample is about 6% for the years covered, but less than 2% of all papers published in B-journals in the period. However, it is a larger fraction of the papers in general interest journals.

It is impossible for anyone to read more than a small fraction of this flood of papers. Consequently, researchers compete for space in journals and for attention from the readers, as measured in the form of citations. It should be uncontroversial that papers that hold a clear message are easier to publish and get more citations. Thus, an element of sales promotion may enter papers in the form of exaggeration , which is a joint problem for all eight methods. This is in accordance with economic theory that predicts that rational researchers report exaggerated results; see Paldam ( 2016 , 2018 ). For empirical papers, meta-methods exist to summarize the results from many papers, notably papers using regressions. Section 4.4 reports that meta-studies find that exaggeration is common.

The empirical literature surveying the use of research methods is quite small, as I have found two articles only: Hamermesh ( 2013 ) covers 748 articles in 6 years a decade apart studies in three A-journals using a slightly different classification of methods, [1] while my study covers B-journals. Angrist, Azoulay, Ellison, Hill, and Lu ( 2017 ) use a machine-learning classification of 134,000 papers in 80 journals to look at the three main methods. My study subdivide the three categories into eight. The machine-learning algorithm is only sketched, so the paper is difficult to replicate, but it is surely a major effort. A key result in both articles is the strong decrease of theory in economic publications. This finding is confirmed, and it is shown that the corresponding increase in empirical articles is concentrated on the classical method.

I have tried to explain what I have done, so that everything is easy to replicate, in full or for one journal or one year. The coding of each article is available at least for the next five years. I should add that I have been in economic research for half a century. Some of the assessments in the paper will reflect my observations/experience during this period (indicated as my assessments). This especially applies to the judgements expressed in Section 4.

2 The eight categories

Table 1 reports that the annual number of papers in the ten journals has increased 1.9 times, or by 3.3% per year. The Appendix gives the full counts per category, journal, and year. By looking at data over two decades, I study how economic research develops. The increase in the production of papers is caused by two factors: The increase in the number of researchers. The increasing importance of publications for the careers of researchers.

The 3,415 papers

2.1 (M1) Theory: subgroups (M1.1) to (M1.3)

Table 2 lists the groups and main numbers discussed in the rest of the paper. Section 2.1 discusses (M1) theory. Section 2.2 covers (M2) experimental methods, while Section 2.3 looks at (M3) empirical methods using statistical inference from data.

The 3,415 papers – fractions in percent

The change of the fractions from 1997 to 2017 in percentage points

Note: Section 3.4 tests if the pattern observed in Table 3 is statistically significant. The Appendix reports the full data.

2.1.1 (M1.1) Economic theory

Papers are where the main content is the development of a theoretical model. The ideal theory paper presents a (simple) new model that recasts the way we look at something important. Such papers are rare and obtain large numbers of citations. Most theoretical papers present variants of known models and obtain few citations.

In a few papers, the analysis is verbal, but more than 95% rely on mathematics, though the technical level differs. Theory papers may start by a descriptive introduction giving the stylized fact the model explains, but the bulk of the paper is the formal analysis, building a model and deriving proofs of some propositions from the model. It is often demonstrated how the model works by a set of simulations, including a calibration made to look realistic. However, the calibrations differ greatly by the efforts made to reach realism. Often, the simulations are in lieu of an analytical solution or just an illustration suggesting the magnitudes of the results reached.

Theoretical papers suffer from the problem known as T-hacking , [2] where the able author by a careful selection of assumptions can tailor the theory to give the results desired. Thus, the proofs made from the model may represent the ability and preferences of the researcher rather than the properties of the economy.

2.1.2 (M1.2) Statistical method

Papers reporting new estimators and tests are published in a handful of specialized journals in econometrics and mathematical statistics – such journals are not included. In our general interest journals, some papers compare estimators on actual data sets. If the demonstration of a methodological improvement is the main feature of the paper, it belongs to (M1.2), but if the economic interpretation is the main point of the paper, it belongs to (M3.2) or (M3.3). [3]

Some papers, including a special issue of Empirical Economics (vol. 53–1), deal with forecasting models. Such models normally have a weak relation to economic theory. They are sometimes justified precisely because of their eclectic nature. They are classified as either (M1.2) or (M3.1), depending upon the focus. It appears that different methods work better on different data sets, and perhaps a trade-off exists between the user-friendliness of the model and the improvement reached.

2.1.3 (M1.3) Surveys

When the literature in a certain field becomes substantial, it normally presents a motley picture with an amazing variation, especially when different schools exist in the field. Thus, a survey is needed, and our sample contains 68 survey articles. They are of two types, where the second type is still rare:

2.1.3.1 (M1.3.1) Assessed surveys

Here, the author reads the papers and assesses what the most reliable results are. Such assessments require judgement that is often quite difficult to distinguish from priors, even for the author of the survey.

2.1.3.2 (M1.3.2) Meta-studies

They are quantitative surveys of estimates of parameters claimed to be the same. Over the two decades from 1997 to 2017, about 500 meta-studies have been made in economics. Our sample includes five, which is 0.15%. [4] Meta-analysis has two levels: The basic level collects and codes the estimates and studies their distribution. This is a rather objective exercise where results seem to replicate rather well. [5] The second level analyzes the variation between the results. This is less objective. The papers analyzed by meta-studies are empirical studies using method (M3.2), though a few use estimates from (M3.1) and (M3.3).

2.2 (M2) Experimental methods: subgroups (M2.1) and (M2.2)

Experiments are of three distinct types, where the last two are rare, so they are lumped together. They are taking place in real life.

2.2.1 (M2.1) Lab experiments

The sample had 1.9% papers using this method in 1997, and it has expanded to 9.7% in 2017. It is a technique that is much easier to apply to micro- than to macroeconomics, so it has spread unequally in the 10 journals, and many experiments are reported in a couple of special journals that are not included in our sample.

Most of these experiments take place in a laboratory, where the subjects communicate with a computer, giving a controlled, but artificial, environment. [6] A number of subjects are told a (more or less abstract) story and paid to react in either of a number of possible ways. A great deal of ingenuity has gone into the construction of such experiments and in the methods used to analyze the results. Lab experiments do allow studies of behavior that are hard to analyze in any other way, and they frequently show sides of human behavior that are difficult to rationalize by economic theory. It appears that such demonstration is a strong argument for the publication of a study.

However, everything is artificial – even the payment. In some cases, the stories told are so elaborate and abstract that framing must be a substantial risk; [7] see Levitt and List ( 2007 ) for a lucid summary, and Bergh and Wichardt ( 2018 ) for a striking example. In addition, experiments cost money, which limits the number of subjects. It is also worth pointing to the difference between expressive and real behavior. It is typically much cheaper for the subject to “express” nice behavior in a lab than to be nice in the real world.

(M2.2) Event studies are studies of real world experiments. They are of two types:

(M2.2.1) Field experiments analyze cases where some people get a certain treatment and others do not. The “gold standard” for such experiments is double blind random sampling, where everything (but the result!) is preannounced; see Christensen and Miguel ( 2018 ). Experiments with humans require permission from the relevant authorities, and the experiment takes time too. In the process, things may happen that compromise the strict rules of the standard. [8] Controlled experiments are expensive, as they require a team of researchers. Our sample of papers contains no study that fulfills the gold standard requirements, but there are a few less stringent studies of real life experiments.

(M2.2.2) Natural experiments take advantage of a discontinuity in the environment, i.e., the period before and after an (unpredicted) change of a law, an earthquake, etc. Methods have been developed to find the effect of the discontinuity. Often, such studies look like (M3.2) classical studies with many controls that may or may not belong. Thus, the problems discussed under (M3.2) will also apply.

2.3 (M3) Empirical methods: subgroups (M3.1) to (M3.3)

The remaining methods are studies making inference from “real” data, which are data samples where the researcher chooses the sample, but has no control over the data generating process.

(M3.1) Descriptive studies are deductive. The researcher describes the data aiming at finding structures that tell a story, which can be interpreted. The findings may call for a formal test. If one clean test follows from the description, [9] the paper is classified under (M3.1). If a more elaborate regression analysis is used, it is classified as (M3.2). Descriptive studies often contain a great deal of theory.

Some descriptive studies present a new data set developed by the author to analyze a debated issue. In these cases, it is often possible to make a clean test, so to the extent that biases sneak in, they are hidden in the details of the assessments made when the data are compiled.

(M3.2) Classical empirics has three steps: It starts by a theory, which is developed into an operational model. Then it presents the data set, and finally it runs regressions.

The significance levels of the t -ratios on the coefficient estimated assume that the regression is the first meeting of the estimation model and the data. We all know that this is rarely the case; see also point (m1) in Section 4.4. In practice, the classical method is often just a presentation technique. The great virtue of the method is that it can be applied to real problems outside academia. The relevance comes with a price: The method is quite flexible as many choices have to be made, and they often give different results. Preferences and interests, as discussed in Sections 4.3 and 4.4 below, notably as point (m2), may affect these choices.

(M3.3) Newer empirics . Partly as a reaction to the problems of (M3.2), the last 3–4 decades have seen a whole set of newer empirical techniques. [10] They include different types of VARs, Bayesian techniques, causality/co-integration tests, Kalman Filters, hazard functions, etc. I have found 162 (or 4.7%) papers where these techniques are the main ones used. The fraction was highest in 1997. Since then it has varied, but with no trend.

I think that the main reason for the lack of success for the new empirics is that it is quite bulky to report a careful set of co-integration tests or VARs, and they often show results that are far from useful in the sense that they are unclear and difficult to interpret. With some introduction and discussion, there is not much space left in the article. Therefore, we are dealing with a cookbook that makes for rather dull dishes, which are difficult to sell in the market.

Note the contrast between (M3.2) and (M3.3): (M3.2) makes it possible to write papers that are too good, while (M3.3) often makes them too dull. This contributes to explain why (M3.2) is getting (even) more popular and the lack of success of (M3.3), but then, it is arguable that it is more dangerous to act on exaggerated results than on results that are weak.

3 The 10 journals

The 10 journals chosen are: (J1) Can [Canadian Journal of Economics], (J2) Emp [Empirical Economics], (J3) EER [European Economic Review], (J4) EJPE [European Journal of Political Economy], (J5) JEBO [Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization], (J6) Inter [Journal of International Economics], (J7) Macro [Journal of Macroeconomics], (J8) Kyklos, (J9) PuCh [Public Choice], and (J10) SJE [Scandinavian Journal of Economics].

Section 3.1 discusses the choice of journals, while Section 3.2 considers how journals deal with the pressure for publication. Section 3.3 shows the marked difference in publication profile of the journals, and Section 3.4 tests if the trends in methods are significant.

3.1 The selection of journals

They should be general interest journals – methodological journals are excluded. By general interest, I mean that they bring papers where an executive summary may interest policymakers and people in general. (ii) They should be journals in English (the Canadian Journal includes one paper in French), which are open to researchers from all countries, so that the majority of the authors are from outside the country of the journal. [11] (iii) They should be sufficiently different so that it is likely that patterns, which apply to these journals, tell a believable story about economic research. Note that (i) and (iii) require some compromises, as is evident in the choice of (J2), (J6), (J7), and (J8) ( Table 4 ).

The 10 journals covered

Note. Growth is the average annual growth from 1997 to 2017 in the number of papers published.

Methodological journals are excluded, as they are not interesting to outsiders. However, new methods are developed to be used in general interest journals. From studies of citations, we know that useful methodological papers are highly cited. If they remain unused, we presume that it is because they are useless, though, of course, there may be a long lag.

The choice of journals may contain some subjectivity, but I think that they are sufficiently diverse so that patterns that generalize across these journals will also generalize across a broader range of good journals.

The papers included are the regular research articles. Consequently, I exclude short notes to other papers and book reviews, [12] except for a few article-long discussions of controversial books.

3.2 Creating space in journals

As mentioned in the introduction, the annual production of research papers in economics has now reached about 1,000 papers in top journals, and about 14,000 papers in the group of good journals. [13] The production has grown with 3.3% per year, and thus it has doubled the last twenty years. The hard-working researcher will read less than 100 papers a year. I know of no signs that this number is increasing. Thus, the upward trend in publication must be due to the large increase in the importance of publications for the careers of researchers, which has greatly increased the production of papers. There has also been a large increase in the number of researches, but as citations are increasingly skewed toward the top journals (see Heckman & Moktan, 2018 ), it has not increased demand for papers correspondingly. The pressures from the supply side have caused journals to look for ways to create space.

Book reviews have dropped to less than 1/3. Perhaps, it also indicates that economists read fewer books than they used to. Journals have increasingly come to use smaller fonts and larger pages, allowing more words per page. The journals from North-Holland Elsevier have managed to cram almost two old pages into one new one. [14] This makes it easier to publish papers, while they become harder to read.

Many journals have changed their numbering system for the annual issues, making it less transparent how much they publish. Only three – Canadian Economic Journal, Kyklos, and Scandinavian Journal of Economics – have kept the schedule of publishing one volume of four issues per year. It gives about 40 papers per year. Public Choice has a (fairly) consistent system with four volumes of two double issues per year – this gives about 100 papers. The remaining journals have changed their numbering system and increased the number of papers published per year – often dramatically.

Thus, I assess the wave of publications is caused by the increased supply of papers and not to the demand for reading material. Consequently, the study confirms and updates the observation by Temple ( 1918 , p. 242): “… as the world gets older the more people are inclined to write but the less they are inclined to read.”

3.3 How different are the journals?

The appendix reports the counts for each year and journal of the research methods. From these counts, a set of χ 2 -scores is calculated for the three main groups of methods – they are reported in Table 5 . It gives the χ 2 -test comparing the profile of each journal to the one of the other nine journals taken to be the theoretical distribution.

The methodological profile of the journals –  χ 2 -scores for main groups

Note: The χ 2 -scores are calculated relative to all other journals. The sign (+) or (−) indicates if the journal has too many or too few papers relatively in the category. The P -values for the χ 2 (3)-test always reject that the journal has the same methodological profile as the other nine journals.

The test rejects that the distribution is the same as the average for any of the journals. The closest to the average is the EJPE and Public Choice. The two most deviating scores are for the most micro-oriented journal JEBO, which brings many experimental papers, and of course, Empirical Economics, which brings many empirical papers.

3.4 Trends in the use of the methods

Table 3 already gave an impression of the main trends in the methods preferred by economists. I now test if these impressions are statistically significant. The tests have to be tailored to disregard three differences between the journals: their methodological profiles, the number of papers they publish, and the trend in the number. Table 6 reports a set of distribution free tests, which overcome these differences. The tests are done on the shares of each research method for each journal. As the data cover five years, it gives 10 pairs of years to compare. [15] The three trend-scores in the []-brackets count how often the shares go up, down, or stay the same in the 10 cases. This is the count done for a Kendall rank correlation comparing the five shares with a positive trend (such as 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5).

Trend-scores and tests for the eight subgroups of methods across the 10 journals

Note: The three trend-scores in each [ I 1 , I 2 , I 3 ]-bracket are a Kendall-count over all 10 combinations of years. I 1 counts how often the share goes up. I 2 counts when the share goes down, and I 3 counts the number of ties. Most ties occur when there are no observations either year. Thus, I 1 + I 2 + I 3 = 10. The tests are two-sided binominal tests disregarding the zeroes. The test results in bold are significant at the 5% level.

The first set of trend-scores for (M1.1) and (J1) is [1, 9, 0]. It means that 1 of the 10 share-pairs increases, while nine decrease and no ties are found. The two-sided binominal test is 2%, so it is unlikely to happen. Nine of the ten journals in the (M1.1)-column have a majority of falling shares. The important point is that the counts in one column can be added – as is done in the all-row; this gives a powerful trend test that disregards differences between journals and the number of papers published. ( Table A1 )

Four of the trend-tests are significant: The fall in theoretical papers and the rise in classical papers. There is also a rise in the share of stat method and event studies. It is surprising that there is no trend in the number of experimental studies, but see Table A2 (in Appendix).

4 An attempt to interpret the pattern found

The development in the methods pursued by researchers in economics is a reaction to the demand and supply forces on the market for economic papers. As already argued, it seems that a key factor is the increasing production of papers.

The shares add to 100, so the decline of one method means that the others rise. Section 4.1 looks at the biggest change – the reduction in theory papers. Section 4.2 discusses the rise in two new categories. Section 4.3 considers the large increase in the classical method, while Section 4.4 looks at what we know about that method from meta-analysis.

4.1 The decline of theory: economics suffers from theory fatigue [16]

The papers in economic theory have dropped from 59.5 to 33.6% – this is the largest change for any of the eight subgroups. [17] It is highly significant in the trend test. I attribute this drop to theory fatigue.

As mentioned in Section 2.1, the ideal theory paper presents a (simple) new model that recasts the way we look at something important. However, most theory papers are less exciting: They start from the standard model and argue that a well-known conclusion reached from the model hinges upon a debatable assumption – if it changes, so does the conclusion. Such papers are useful. From a literature on one main model, the profession learns its strengths and weaknesses. It appears that no generally accepted method exists to summarize this knowledge in a systematic way, though many thoughtful summaries have appeared.

I think that there is a deeper problem explaining theory fatigue. It is that many theoretical papers are quite unconvincing. Granted that the calculations are done right, believability hinges on the realism of the assumptions at the start and of the results presented at the end. In order for a model to convince, it should (at least) demonstrate the realism of either the assumptions or the outcome. [18] If both ends appear to hang in the air, it becomes a game giving little new knowledge about the world, however skillfully played.

The theory fatigue has caused a demand for simulations demonstrating that the models can mimic something in the world. Kydland and Prescott pioneered calibration methods (see their 1991 ). Calibrations may be carefully done, but it often appears like a numerical solution of a model that is too complex to allow an analytical solution.

4.2 Two examples of waves: one that is still rising and another that is fizzling out

When a new method of gaining insights in the economy first appears, it is surrounded by doubts, but it also promises a high marginal productivity of knowledge. Gradually the doubts subside, and many researchers enter the field. After some time this will cause the marginal productivity of the method to fall, and it becomes less interesting. The eight methods include two newer ones: Lab experiments and newer stats. [19]

It is not surprising that papers with lab experiments are increasing, though it did take a long time: The seminal paper presenting the technique was Smith ( 1962 ), but only a handful of papers are from the 1960s. Charles Plott organized the first experimental lab 10 years later – this created a new standard for experiments, but required an investment in a lab and some staff. Labs became more common in the 1990s as PCs got cheaper and software was developed to handle experiments, but only 1.9% of the papers in the 10 journals reported lab experiments in 1997. This has now increased to 9.7%, so the wave is still rising. The trend in experiments is concentrated in a few journals, so the trend test in Table 6 is insignificant, but it is significant in the Appendix Table A2 , where it is done on the sum of articles irrespective of the journal.

In addition to the rising share of lab experiment papers in some journals, the journal Experimental Economics was started in 1998, where it published 281 pages in three issues. In 2017, it had reached 1,006 pages in four issues, [20] which is an annual increase of 6.5%.

Compared with the success of experimental economics, the motley category of newer empirics has had a more modest success, as the fraction of papers in the 5 years are 5.8, 5.2, 3.5, 5.4, and 4.2, which has no trend. Newer stats also require investment, but mainly in human capital. [21] Some of the papers using the classical methodology contain a table with Dickey-Fuller tests or some eigenvalues of the data matrix, but they are normally peripheral to the analysis. A couple of papers use Kalman filters, and a dozen papers use Bayesian VARs. However, it is clear that the newer empirics have made little headway into our sample of general interest journals.

4.3 The steady rise of the classical method: flexibility rewarded

The typical classical paper provides estimates of a key effect that decision-makers outside academia want to know. This makes the paper policy relevant right from the start, and in many cases, it is possible to write a one page executive summary to the said decision-makers.

The three-step convention (see Section 2.3) is often followed rather loosely. The estimation model is nearly always much simpler than the theory. Thus, while the model can be derived from a theory, the reverse does not apply. Sometimes, the model seems to follow straight from common sense, and if the link from the theory to the model is thin, it begs the question: Is the theory really necessary? In such cases, it is hard to be convinced that the tests “confirm” the theory, but then, of course, tests only say that the data do not reject the theory.

The classical method is often only a presentation devise. Think of a researcher who has reached a nice publishable result through a long and tortuous path, including some failed attempts to find such results. It is not possible to describe that path within the severely limited space of an article. In addition, such a presentation would be rather dull to read, and none of us likes to talk about wasted efforts that in hindsight seem a bit silly. Here, the classical method becomes a convenient presentation device.

The biggest source of variation in the results is the choice of control/modifier variables. All datasets presumably contain some general and some special information, where the latter depends on the circumstances prevailing when the data were compiled. The regression should be controlled for these circumstances in order to reach the general result. Such ceteris paribus controls are not part of the theory, so many possible controls may be added. The ones chosen for publication often appear to be the ones delivering the “right” results by the priors of the researcher. The justification for their inclusion is often thin, and if two-stage regressions are used, the first stage instruments often have an even thinner justification.

Thus, the classical method is rather malleable to the preferences and interests of researchers and sponsors. This means that some papers using the classical technique are not what they pretend, as already pointed out by Leamer ( 1983 ), see also Paldam ( 2018 ) for new references and theory. The fact that data mining is tempting suggests that it is often possible to reach smashing results, making the paper nice to read. This may be precisely why it is cited.

Many papers using the classical method throw in some bits of exotic statistics technique to demonstrate the robustness of the result and the ability of the researcher. This presumably helps to generate credibility.

4.4 Knowledge about classical papers reached from meta-studies

Individual studies using the classical method often look better than they are, and thus they are more uncertain than they appear, but we may think of the value of convergence for large N s (number of observations) as the truth. The exaggeration is largest in the beginning of a new literature, but gradually it becomes smaller. Thus, the classical method does generate truth when the effect searched for has been studied from many sides. The word research does mean that the search has to be repeated! It is highly risky to trust a few papers only.

Meta-analysis has found other results such as: Results in top journals do not stand out. It is necessary to look at many journals, as many papers on the same effect are needed. Little of the large variation between results is due to the choice of estimators.

A similar development should occur also for experimental economics. Experiments fall in families: A large number cover prisoner’s dilemma games, but there are also many studies of dictator games, auction games, etc. Surveys summarizing what we have learned about these games seem highly needed. Assessed summaries of old experiments are common, notably in introductions to papers reporting new ones. It should be possible to extract the knowledge reached by sets of related lab experiments in a quantitative way, by some sort of meta-technique, but this has barely started. The first pioneering meta-studies of lab experiments do find the usual wide variation of results from seemingly closely related experiments. [25] A recent large-scale replicability study by Camerer et al. ( 2018 ) finds that published experiments in the high quality journal Nature and Science exaggerate by a factor two just like regression studies using the classical method.

5 Conclusion

The study presents evidence that over the last 20 years economic research has moved away from theory towards empirical work using the classical method.

From the eighties onward, there has been a steady stream of papers pointing out that the classical method suffers from excess flexibility. It does deliver relevant results, but they tend to be too good. [26] While, increasingly, we know the size of the problems of the classical method, systematic knowledge about the problems of the other methods is weaker. It is possible that the problems are smaller, but we do not know.

Therefore, it is clear that obtaining solid knowledge about the size of an important effect requires a great deal of papers analyzing many aspects of the effect and a careful quantitative survey. It is a well-known principle in the harder sciences that results need repeated independent replication to be truly trustworthy. In economics, this is only accepted in principle.

The classical method of empirical research is gradually winning, and this is a fine development: It does give answers to important policy questions. These answers are highly variable and often exaggerated, but through the efforts of many competing researchers, solid knowledge will gradually emerge.

Home page: http://www.martin.paldam.dk

Acknowledgments

The paper has been presented at the 2018 MAER-Net Colloquium in Melbourne, the Kiel Aarhus workshop in 2018, and at the European Public Choice 2019 Meeting in Jerusalem. I am grateful for all comments, especially from Chris Doucouliagos, Eelke de Jong, and Bob Reed. In addition, I thank the referees for constructive advice.

Conflict of interest: Author states no conflict of interest.

Appendix: Two tables and some assessments of the size of the profession

The text needs some numbers to assess the representativity of the results reached. These numbers just need to be orders of magnitude. I use the standard three-level classification in A, B, and C of researchers, departments, and journals. The connections between the three categories are dynamic and rely on complex sorting mechanisms. In an international setting, it matters that researchers have preferences for countries, notably their own. The relation between the three categories has a stochastic element.

The World of Learning organization reports on 36,000 universities, colleges, and other institutes of tertiary education and research. Many of these institutions are mainly engaged in undergraduate teaching, and some are quite modest. If half of these institutions have a program in economics, with a staff of at least five, the total stock of academic economists is 100,000, of which most are at the C-level.

The A-level of about 500 tenured researchers working at the top ten universities (mainly) publishes in the top 10 journals that bring less than 1,000 papers per year; [27] see Heckman and Moktan (2020). They (mainly) cite each other, but they greatly influence other researchers. [28] The B-level consists of about 15–20,000 researchers who work at 4–500 research universities, with graduate programs and ambitions to publish. They (mainly) publish in the next level of about 150 journals. [29] In addition, there are at least another 1,000 institutions that strive to move up in the hierarchy.

The counts for each of the 10 journals

Counts, shares, and changes for all ten journals for subgroups

Note: The trend-scores are calculated as in Table 6 . Compared to the results in Table 6 , the results are similar, but the power is less than before. However, note that the results in Column (M2.1) dealing with experiments are stronger in Table A2 . This has to do with the way missing observations are treated in the test.

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economics research paper conclusion

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.

Introduction

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.

Bibliography/References

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.

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Mastering the Art of Writing an Economics Research Paper: A Comprehensive Guide

May 29, 2023 | 0 comments

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May 29, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on how to write an economics research paper. Crafting a well-structured and impactful economics research paper can be daunting, but you can navigate the process successfully with the right approach and step-by-step guidance. This article will provide invaluable tips, strategies, and a clear roadmap to help you tackle every stage of your research paper. Whether you are a student, an aspiring economist, or a researcher looking to enhance your writing skills, this guide will equip you with the tools to effectively convey your ideas, analyze economic concepts, publish, and contribute to economics through a well-crafted research paper. So, let’s dive in and discover the key steps to master writing an economics research paper.

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Choosing a Topic

Finding the perfect topic for your economics research paper is thrilling. It’s a chance to explore areas of interest, delve into uncharted territories, and make a meaningful contribution to the field. However, with countless potential subjects and subfields within economics, selecting the right topic can feel overwhelming. But fear not! We’re here to guide you through the process and help you choose an engaging and relevant research topic.

  • Start with What Intrigues You: Passion is the key to a successful research paper. Begin by reflecting on what interests you within the vast realm of economics. Is it the impact of fiscal policies on economic growth? The dynamics of supply and demand? Or perhaps the relationship between globalization and income inequality? Follow your curiosity and choose a topic that genuinely excites you.
  • Narrow Down Your Focus: Once you’ve identified a broad area of interest, it’s time to narrow it down. Consider the specific aspects or subtopics that you find most fascinating. For example, if you’re interested in fiscal policies, you might explore the effects of government spending on the national debt or the role of taxation in economic development. Narrowing your focus allows for more in-depth analysis and a clearer research direction.
  • Consider Relevance and Significance: While choosing a topic you’re passionate about is essential, it’s equally important to ensure its relevance and significance in economics. Ask yourself: Does this topic address a current issue or contribute to existing knowledge? Will it provide valuable insights or offer potential solutions? Aim to select a relevant topic for both academia and the real world.
  • Conduct Preliminary Research: Before finalizing your topic, delve into preliminary research to ensure sufficient literature and data are available. Explore academic journals, reputable websites, and scholarly databases to gauge the existing research on your chosen subject. This step will help you determine the feasibility of your topic and identify any research gaps you can potentially fill.
  • Consult with Experts: Seeking guidance from professors, advisors, or experts in the field can offer valuable insights and help refine your topic. Please share your ideas with them and seek their feedback. Their expertise can help steer you in the right direction and suggest potential modifications or improvements.

Remember, choosing a topic is the foundation of your economics research paper. By selecting an engaging and relevant subject, you’ll embark on a research journey that aligns with your interests and contributes to the wider field of economics. So, take your time, follow your passion, and let the exploration begin!

Conducting Background Research

Conducting Background Research

This crucial step will provide a solid understanding of existing knowledge, theories, and findings related to your chosen subject. By immersing yourself in the existing landscape, you’ll be better equipped to formulate research questions, identify gaps, and contribute to the field of economics. Let’s explore some expert tips and strategies to make the most out of your background research process.

  • Dive into Academic Journals and Books: Academic journals and books are treasure troves of knowledge regarding background research. Explore renowned economics and statistics journals in the US and UK, such as The Quarterly Journal of Economics, The American Economic Review, or The Journal of Economic Perspectives. These publications feature cutting-edge research, theories, and empirical studies that can serve as a solid foundation for your work. Additionally, consult authoritative economics textbooks and seminal works by esteemed economists to comprehensively understand the key concepts and theories relevant to your topic.
  • Utilize Scholarly Databases and Online Resources: In the digital age, scholarly and online resources provide convenient access to various research articles and publications. Platforms like JSTOR, EconLit, and Google Scholar allow you to search for specific keywords, authors, or topics and discover a wealth of scholarly materials. Use advanced search options and filters to narrow down your results and find the most relevant and recent research articles in your field.
  • Engage in Citation Chaining: Citation chaining is a powerful technique to expand your reading list and uncover additional relevant sources. Once you find a seminal article or a research paper closely related to your topic, examine its reference list and explore the works the author has cited. This method can lead you to newer research studies, alternative perspectives, and different methodologies, enriching your understanding of the subject and providing a broader context for your research.
  • Follow Current Debates and Discussions: Economics is a dynamic field, constantly evolving and engaging in lively debates and discussions. Stay up-to-date with the latest developments and current debates in your area of research. Read recent articles, op-eds, and public policy briefs from reputable economics publications and institutions. By being aware of ongoing discussions, you can position your research within the broader discourse and contribute to the existing knowledge meaningfully.
  • Take Notes and Organize Your Findings: As you delve into your background research, taking detailed notes and organizing your findings is crucial. Create a system that works for you using digital tools like note-taking apps or traditional methods like index cards or a research journal. Record key ideas, important quotations, and your reflections on each source. This will help you during the writing process and ensure you properly attribute ideas and avoid plagiarism.

Conducting thorough background research lays the groundwork for a well-informed and impactful economics research paper. You build a strong knowledge base, identify research gaps, and position yourself within the existing body of literature. Armed with this foundational knowledge, you’ll be ready to formulate research questions, develop a robust methodology, and contribute fresh insights to the field of economics.

Defining Your Research Questions and Objectives

This step is crucial as it sets the direction and purpose of your research paper. By formulating precise and focused research questions, you can guide your investigation and delve deeper into the subject matter. Let’s explore the art of defining your research questions and objectives to ensure a strong and impactful foundation for your economics research paper.

  • Start with a Broad Question: Begin by formulating a broad question that encapsulates the main topic of your research. This overarching question will guide you and help you stay focused throughout the research process. For example, if your research topic is related to the impact of fiscal policies on economic growth, a broad question could be: “How do fiscal policies influence economic growth in a specific country or region?”
  • Narrow to Specific Sub-questions: Once you have your broad question, break it down into smaller, specific sub-questions. These sub-questions will address different aspects of your main research topic and provide a more comprehensive analysis. Referring to the previous example, sub-questions could include: “What are the different types of fiscal policies that can be implemented?” or “How do fiscal policies affect key economic indicators such as GDP, inflation, and unemployment?”
  • Ensure Relevance and Feasibility: While formulating your research questions, it’s crucial to ensure their relevance and feasibility. Consider the significance of your research within economics and its potential impact. Additionally, assess the availability of data and resources needed to address your research questions. It’s essential to strike a balance between ambitious and attainable research objectives.
  • Align with Objectives and Hypotheses: Research objectives and hypotheses are closely tied to your research questions. Objectives outline the specific goals you aim to achieve through your research, while hypotheses propose tentative answers to your research questions. Ensure that your research questions align with your objectives and hypotheses, creating a cohesive framework for your study.
  • Seek Clarity and Specificity: Clarity and specificity are key when defining your research questions and objectives. Ensure that your questions are clear and easy to understand. Avoid vague or overly broad questions that may lead to confusion. Make your objectives specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). This will provide a clear roadmap for your research and enable effective evaluation of your outcomes.

Remember, well-defined research questions and objectives are the driving force behind your economics research paper. They provide the structure and focus necessary to conduct a thorough investigation and draw meaningful conclusions. As you embark on the next phase of your research, such as data collection and analysis, keep referring back to your research questions and objectives to ensure you stay on track.

Crafting a Solid Thesis Statement

Crafting a Solid Thesis Statement

A well-crafted thesis statement is the backbone of your economics research paper. It not only conveys the central argument or main idea of your study but also guides your paper’s overall structure and direction. Let’s dive into the art of crafting a solid thesis statement that will captivate your readers and set the stage for your research.

  • Be Clear and Concise: Your thesis statement should be concise and easily understandable. Avoid ambiguity or vague language that may confuse your readers. State your main argument or position with precision and confidence. A strong thesis statement leaves no room for misinterpretation and sets the foundation for a focused and coherent research paper.
  • Make it Specific and Focused: A well-crafted thesis statement should be specific and focused, addressing the main research questions and objectives you have defined. Avoid broad statements that lack specificity or encompass too many ideas. Instead, narrow down your thesis to a specific aspect or relationship you aim to explore within your research. This specificity will help you maintain a clear and organized structure throughout your paper.
  • Emphasize Originality and Contribution: Your thesis statement should highlight the originality and contribution of your research. State how your study fills a gap in the existing literature or offers a new perspective on the chosen topic. This will demonstrate the significance of your research and its potential impact on economics. Emphasize what sets your study apart and why it matters in the broader context of economic research.
  • Take a Position: Your thesis statement should clearly express your position or argument regarding the research topic. Take a stance and provide a strong, evidence-based claim you will support throughout your research paper. Avoid vague or neutral statements that do not take a clear position. Remember, your thesis statement is the anchor that guides your analysis and serves as a point of reference for your readers.
  • Revise and Refine: A solid thesis statement often requires revision and refinement. Don’t hesitate to revisit and revise your thesis statement as you progress with your research. As your understanding of the topic deepens and your analysis evolves, your thesis statement may need adjustments to reflect your findings and arguments accurately. Be open to refining and polishing your thesis to ensure its strength and relevance.

Collecting and Analyzing Data

Collecting and Analyzing Data

In this phase, your research comes to life as you gather empirical evidence and apply analytical tools to draw meaningful conclusions. Effective data collection and analysis are essential for producing robust and compelling research. Let’s delve into collecting and analyzing data, equipping you with the knowledge and techniques to conduct a thorough and insightful study.

  • Determine the Type of Data: The first step in data collection is determining the data type you need for your research. Economics research often involves both quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data, such as numerical figures and statistical information, provide measurable insights. In contrast, qualitative data, such as interviews or case studies, offers a deeper understanding of the context and human experiences. Identify the appropriate data types and sources depending on your research questions and objectives.
  • Identify Reliable Data Sources: Reliable data sources are essential to ensure the accuracy and validity of your research findings. Consult reputable databases, government publications, economic reports, and scholarly articles to access reliable data sets. Organizations like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and national statistical agencies can provide valuable economic data. Additionally, consider conducting surveys, interviews, or experiments to collect original data that aligns with your research objectives.
  • Develop a Data Collection Plan: To ensure a systematic and efficient data collection process, developing a detailed data collection plan is crucial. Outline the specific variables you need to measure, the sources from which you will obtain the data, and the methods you will employ for data collection. Consider factors such as sample size, sampling techniques, and data collection instruments, ensuring they align with the scope and objectives of your research.
  • Organize and Cleanse the Data: Once you have collected your data, it’s essential to organize and cleanse it for analysis. Create a structured database or spreadsheet to store your data and ensure data integrity. Check for errors, inconsistencies, or missing values and address them appropriately. Data cleaning is crucial to maintain the quality and reliability of your findings.
  • Apply Appropriate Analytical Methods: With your data prepared, it’s time to apply appropriate analytical methods to derive meaningful insights. Depending on the nature of your data and research questions, you may utilize statistical techniques, econometric models, or qualitative analysis methods. Ensure that the analytical methods you employ align with the research objectives and provide a comprehensive analysis of your data.
  • Interpret and Present Your Findings: After conducting your data analysis, it’s time to interpret and present your findings. Examine the results in light of your research questions and objectives. Identify patterns, trends, correlations, or significant relationships within the data. Present your findings using visual aids such as graphs, charts, or tables, making them accessible and easy to understand for your readers.

Organizing Your Paper: Introduction, Literature Review, and Methodology

In this section, we’ll explore the key components of organizing your paper, namely the introduction, literature review, and methodology sections. Let’s dive in and discover how to craft each section precisely and clearly.

  • Introduction: The introduction sets the stage for your research paper, capturing your reader’s attention and providing an overview of your study. Start with a captivating opening sentence that hooks the reader and introduces the importance and relevance of your research topic. Clearly state the research problem, research questions, and the significance of your study. Provide a brief outline of the structure of your paper, indicating what readers can expect from each section. Remember to end the introduction with a strong and concise thesis statement that encapsulates the central argument of your research.
  • Literature Review: The literature review demonstrates your understanding of the existing body of knowledge and provides context for your research. Start by identifying your research topic’s key themes, theories, and debates. Summarize and critically evaluate relevant studies, scholarly articles, and books that inform your research. Identify gaps or unresolved issues in the literature that your research aims to address. Use proper citations and referencing to attribute ideas to the original authors and maintain academic integrity. The literature review should serve as a foundation for your research and highlight the novelty and contribution of your study.
  • Methodology: The methodology section outlines your study’s research design, data collection methods, and analytical techniques. Describe the research approach (quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods) and justify its suitability for addressing your research questions. Explain the sampling technique and sample size, providing a rationale for your choices. Detail the data collection methods, whether it involves surveys, experiments, interviews, or secondary data sources. Elaborate on the data analysis techniques, statistical methods, or qualitative analysis approaches. Ensure your methodology section is comprehensive and transparent, allowing others to replicate your study if desired.

Presenting and Analyzing Findings

a college student Presenting and Analyzing Findings on a white board

This is the moment where all your hard work and data analysis come together, allowing you to draw meaningful conclusions and contribute to the field of economics. In this section, we’ll explore the art of presenting and analyzing your findings, ensuring that your research is communicated effectively and convincingly to your readers.

  • Organize Your Findings: Start by organizing your findings clearly and logically. Break down your results into key themes or categories that align with your research questions. Present your findings using tables, graphs, or charts to enhance clarity and visual appeal. Ensure that the presentation format is appropriate for the type of data you have collected and the nature of your research.
  • Interpret and Explain: Once you have presented your findings, it’s crucial to interpret and explain their significance. Describe the patterns, trends, or relationships that emerge from your analysis. Provide a comprehensive explanation of the implications of your findings in the context of your research questions and objectives. Use evidence from your data to support your interpretations and connect them to the existing literature.
  • Discuss Limitations: Acknowledge and discuss the limitations of your research. No study is without limitations, and being transparent about them demonstrates the rigour and honesty of your work. Discuss any potential biases, constraints, or limitations that may have affected your findings. This helps to contextualize your research and provides opportunities for future researchers to build upon your work.
  • Compare and Contrast with Existing Literature: Engage in critical analysis by comparing and contrasting your findings with the existing literature. Identify areas of agreement or disagreement with previous studies. Highlight how your research contributes to filling gaps or extending knowledge in economics. By situating your findings within the broader context, you demonstrate the value and relevance of your research.
  • Address Research Questions and Objectives: Evaluate the extent to which your research questions and objectives have been addressed through your findings. Reflect on how your findings align with or deviate from your initial expectations. Discuss any unexpected or intriguing results and offer plausible explanations. This demonstrates your ability to analyze and synthesize complex information and draw informed conclusions.
  • Recommendations: Based on your findings, offer practical recommendations or suggestions for future research or policy implications. Discuss how your research contributes to understanding the topic and identify potential avenues for further investigation. Providing recommendations adds depth and practicality to your research, showcasing its real-world relevance.

Writing a Coherent Discussion and Conclusion

Now it’s time to wrap up your economics research paper with a coherent discussion and conclusion. The discussion section allows you to delve deeper into the implications of your findings, while the decision provides a concise summary of your research and its broader significance. Let’s explore how to write a compelling discussion and decision that leaves a lasting impression on your readers.

  • Discussion: In the discussion section, go beyond simply restating your findings and critically analyzing them. Interpret the meaning and implications of your results in the context of your research questions and objectives. Discuss the theoretical and practical implications of your findings and how they contribute to the field of economics. Address any unexpected or contradictory results and offer possible explanations. Compare and contrast your findings with the existing literature, highlighting areas of agreement or disagreement. Engage in a thoughtful reflection on the strengths and limitations of your study, identifying areas for further research or potential refinements. Through a well-crafted discussion, you demonstrate your ability to synthesize complex information and draw insightful conclusions.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion serves as a concise summary of your research paper and provides closure to your study. Recapitulate the main findings and their significance. Restate your thesis statement and highlight how your research has addressed the research questions and objectives. Emphasize the novelty or contribution of your study to the field of economics. Avoid introducing new information in the conclusion; focus on summarizing and reinforcing the key points. Conclude with a thought-provoking statement that leaves a lasting impact on your readers and encourages further exploration of the topic.
  • Reflect on the Research Process: Take a moment to reflect on your research journey. Discuss any challenges or obstacles you encountered during the research process and how you overcame them. Share insights and lessons learned that may be valuable for future researchers. Reflecting on the research process adds depth and authenticity to your paper, showcasing your growth as a researcher.
  • Avoid Repetition: While the discussion and conclusion sections complement each other, avoiding excessive repetition is important. Ensure that the discussion section provides a detailed analysis of your findings and their implications while the conclusion offers a concise summary and final thoughts. You create a more coherent and engaging paper by maintaining a clear distinction between the two sections.
  • Engage Your Readers: Throughout the discussion and conclusion, maintain a friendly and informative tone that engages your readers. Use clear and concise language to convey your ideas effectively. Consider using illustrative examples or anecdotes to make your points more relatable and memorable. Remember, the discussion and conclusion sections are your final opportunity to leave a lasting impression on your readers, so make them count.

Proper Citation and Referencing

a college student writing and editing an economics paper on a desk

Proper citation and referencing are crucial elements of any academic research paper, including your economics research paper. Accurate citation acknowledges other researchers’ contributions and adds credibility and integrity to your work. This section explores the importance of proper citation and referencing and guides how to cite and reference sources appropriately.

  • Why is Proper Citation Important? Proper citation is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it gives credit to the original authors or researchers whose work has influenced and contributed to your research. This demonstrates academic integrity and acknowledges the intellectual property rights of others. Secondly, accurate citation allows readers to locate and verify the sources you have used, enabling them to explore the topic further and evaluate the validity of your research. Finally, proper citation helps you avoid plagiarism, which is presenting someone else’s work or ideas as your own. Plagiarism is a serious academic offence and can have severe consequences, so citing and referencing sources accurately is important.
  • Choosing a Citation Style: There are several citation styles used in academic writing, such as APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), Chicago/Turabian, and Harvard. Check with your instructor or the guidelines of the journal or conference you are submitting to for the preferred citation style. Each citation style has specific rules for formatting in-text citations, reference lists, and bibliographies. Familiarize yourself with the requirements of the chosen style and ensure consistency throughout your paper.
  • In-Text Citations: In-text citations acknowledge the sources of specific ideas, information, or quotations within the body of your paper. Intext citations may include the author’s name, publication year, and page number, depending on the citation style. For example, in APA style, you might write: (Smith, 2021, p. 45) or (Smith, 2021). Be sure to place in-text citations immediately after the information is cited and within the punctuation marks.
  • Reference List/Bibliography: The reference list (or bibliography, depending on the citation style) is a separate section at the end of your research paper that provides complete bibliographic information for all the sources you have cited in your paper. Each citation should include the author’s name, publication year, the title of the work, and publication details such as the journal name, publisher, or website. The exact format and order of the elements vary based on the chosen citation style. Ensure that you adhere to the specific guidelines of your selected citation style for the correct reference list formatting.
  • Citing Different Types of Sources: Different sources require specific citation formats. For instance, books, journal articles, websites, conference papers, working papers, and government reports have their own citation rules. It’s important to consult the guidelines of your chosen citation style or refer to reputable style guides to ensure you cite each source correctly.
  • Utilizing Citation Management Tools: To simplify the process of citation and referencing, consider using citation management tools such as Zotero, Mendeley, or EndNote. These tools allow you to organize your references, generate in-text citations and reference lists in various citation styles, and store and retrieve sources efficiently. They can save you time and help ensure the accuracy and consistency of your citations.

Editing and Proofreading

Editing and Proofreading

As you approach the final stages of the writing process, it’s crucial to devote ample time and attention to editing and proofreading. Editing allows you to refine your ideas, enhance clarity, and improve the overall structure of your paper. On the other hand, proofreading focuses on eliminating errors and ensuring that your paper is polished and error-free. Let’s dive into the importance of editing and proofreading and explore some effective strategies to make your research paper shine.

  • Editing for Clarity and Coherence: Review your paper for clarity and coherence. Read through each paragraph and sentence, ensuring your ideas flow logically and smoothly. Check for any inconsistencies in language, tone, or style. Pay attention to the structure of your paper, ensuring that each section and paragraph serves a clear purpose and contributes to the overall argument. If necessary, reorganize your content to enhance the logical progression of your ideas.
  • Refining Your Arguments: Evaluate the strength and effectiveness of your arguments. Are your points well-supported by evidence and analysis? Are there any gaps or weak areas in your reasoning? Consider revising or expanding upon certain sections to strengthen your arguments and make them more compelling. Look for opportunities to provide additional evidence or examples to support your claims. Engage in critical thinking to ensure that your arguments are robust and convincing.
  • Enhancing Clarity and Conciseness: Review your sentences and paragraphs for clarity and conciseness. Ensure that your writing is straightforward to understand. Avoid excessive jargon or technical language that may alienate readers. Use clear and precise language to convey your ideas effectively. Trim down any unnecessary or repetitive information to make your writing concise and impactful. Remember, simplicity and clarity are key to engaging your audience.
  • Grammar and Language: Pay close attention to grammar, punctuation, and language usage. Check for grammatical errors, such as incorrect verb tense, subject-verb agreement, or sentence structure. Ensure that your punctuation is accurate and your writing adheres to the rules of punctuation marks, such as commas, periods, and quotation marks. Use appropriate language for academic writing, avoiding slang or colloquial expressions. Proofread your paper for spelling errors and typos, as even minor mistakes can distract readers and undermine the credibility of your work.
  • Seek Feedback: Consider seeking feedback from a trusted colleague, mentor, or professor. Another pair of eyes can offer valuable insights and perspectives on your paper. They can identify areas that require clarification, point out logical inconsistencies, or suggest improvements. Be open to constructive criticism and use it to refine and strengthen your research paper.
  • Take Breaks: Editing and proofreading can be mentally taxing, so take breaks to refresh your mind. Stepping away from your paper for a while allows you to return with a fresh perspective, making it easier to identify errors or areas that need improvement. Utilize this time to relax, engage in a different activity, or work on other aspects of your research.
  • Proofread Carefully: Once you are satisfied with the content and structure of your paper, dedicate time to proofreading. Read through your paper carefully, word by word, line by line. Look for spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, and formatting inconsistencies. Check your citations and references for accuracy and ensure they adhere to the required citation style. Consider reading your paper aloud to catch any awkward phrasing or grammatical errors that may have gone unnoticed.

Finalizing Your Economics Research Paper

Congratulations! You’ve reached the final stage of completing your economics research paper. As you approach the finish line, it’s essential to give your paper the attention it deserves to ensure it is ready for submission. In this section, we’ll explore some essential steps to finalize and present your research paper in its best possible form.

  • Review the Formatting: Take a moment to review the formatting requirements provided by your instructor or the journal/conference you are submitting to. Check the font style and size guidelines, line spacing, margins, and headings. Ensure that your paper adheres to the prescribed formatting guidelines consistently throughout. Pay attention to the proper placement and formatting of tables, figures, and other visual elements. Remember, adhering to the required arrangement demonstrates your attention to detail and professionalism.
  • Check for Consistency: Review your paper for consistency in language, terminology, and formatting. Ensure that you use the same terminology and definitions consistently throughout your paper. Check for consistent capitalization, abbreviations, and citation style. Verify that your in-text citations and reference list are consistent and accurately formatted. Consistency enhances the readability and professionalism of your research paper.
  • Proofread with Care: It’s time to proofread your paper meticulously. Pay attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation, and typos. Read each sentence carefully and check for errors that may have slipped through the previous editing rounds. Use spell-check tools, but be cautious as they may not catch all errors. Reading your paper aloud or asking a friend to proofread it for you can be helpful. Fresh eyes often catch mistakes that you might have overlooked.
  • Double-Check References and Citations: Carefully review your reference list and ensure that all the sources cited in your paper are included. Verify that the bibliographic information for each source is accurate and complete. Cross-reference your in-text citations with the entries in the reference list to ensure consistency and correctness. Ensure that you have cited all sources appropriately and given credit to the original authors for their work.
  • Create a Title and Abstract: If you haven’t done so, craft a concise and informative title for your research paper. The title should accurately reflect the content of your study and catch the reader’s attention. Additionally, write an abstract that briefly summarises your research paper. The abstract should highlight the key points of your study, including the research question, methodology, main findings, and implications. Keep the abstract concise, typically between 150 to 250 words, and ensure that it accurately represents the content of your paper.
  • Seek Feedback: Consider seeking feedback from a trusted colleague, mentor, or professor once you have finalized your research paper. They can provide valuable insights and suggestions for improvement. Their feedback can help you identify any remaining areas that need attention or fine-tuning. Be receptive to constructive criticism and use it to refine your paper further.
  • Create a Table of Contents and Appendices: If your research paper is lengthy or includes multiple sections, creating a table of contents may be helpful. The table of contents allows readers to navigate your paper more easily and locate specific sections of interest. Additionally, if you have any supplementary materials, such as raw data, survey instruments, or additional analysis, consider including them as appendices. Appendices provide valuable supporting information that may be too lengthy or detailed for inclusion in the main body of the paper.
  • Final Read-through: Before submitting your economics research paper, take the time for one final read-through. Read your paper from start to finish, paying attention to the flow of ideas, clarity of arguments, and overall coherence. Check for any remaining errors or areas that could be improved. This final read

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In conclusion, writing an economics research paper requires careful planning, meticulous research, and effective communication of your findings. Throughout this step-by-step guide, we have explored the essential elements of crafting an outstanding economics research paper. From choosing a topic and conducting background research to defining research questions, crafting a thesis statement, collecting and analyzing data, organizing your paper, presenting findings, and writing a coherent discussion and conclusion, each step is crucial to the success of your research. Additionally, we highlighted the importance of proper citation and referencing and the final stages of editing, proofreading, and finalizing your paper. By following this comprehensive guide, you can confidently navigate the process and produce a high-quality economics research paper that contributes to the field. Remember, writing a research paper is a journey of discovery and learning, and with perseverance and attention to detail, you can create a compelling and impactful piece of scholarly work.

How do I find a topic for a research paper in economics?

Consider current issues, trends, and debates to find a topic for an economics research paper. Read scholarly articles, attend seminars, and explore reputable economic journals for inspiration. You can also consult with professors or experts for guidance and suggestions.

What are the steps of economic research?

Economic research typically involves several key steps: choosing a topic, conducting background research, defining research questions and objectives, collecting and analyzing data, organizing the paper, presenting findings, and writing a discussion and conclusion.

What is the format of the economics term paper?

The format of an economics term paper generally includes an introduction, literature review, methodology, findings and analysis, discussion, and conclusion. It is essential to adhere to the citation style specified by your instructor or academic institution.

What are the seven research methods in economics?

The field of economics employs various research methods, including econometric analysis, surveys, experiments, case studies, qualitative interviews, archival research, and mathematical modelling. Each method offers unique approaches to studying economic phenomena.

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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.

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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.

Bibliography:

  • Andersen, E. S. (2008). Appraising Schumpeter’s “essence” after 100 years: From Walrasian economics to evolutionary economics. In K. K. Puranam & R. Kumar Jain B. (Eds.), Evolutionary economics. Hyderabad, India: ICFAI University Press.
  • Ayres, C. (1938). The problem of economic order. New York: Farrar and Rinehart.
  • Coase, R. H. (1974). The new institutional economics. Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, 140, 229-231.
  • Commons, J. R. (1970). The economics ofcollective action. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
  • Cypher, J., & Dietz, J. (2004). The process of economic development. London: Routledge.
  • Dugger, B. (1988). Radical institutionalism: Basic concepts. Review of Radical Political Economics, 20, 1-20.
  • Dugger, B. (1995). Veblenian institutionalism. Journal of Economic Issues, 29, 1013-1027.
  • Dugger, B., & Sherman, H. (Eds.). (2000). Reclaiming evolution: A dialogue between Marxism and institutionalism on social change. London: Routledge.
  • Dugger, B., & Sherman, H. (Eds.). (2003). Evolutionary theory in the social sciences: Vol. 1. Early foundations and later contributions. London: Routledge.
  • Fusfeld, D. R. (1977). The development of economic institutions. Journal of Economic Issues, 11, 743-784.
  • Harris, M. (1997). Culture, people, nature (7th ed.). New York: Addison Wesley Longman.
  • Hodgson, G. M. (2004). The evolution of institutional economics: Agency, structure and Darwinism in American institutionalism. London: Routledge.
  • Hodgson, G. M. (Ed.). (2007a). The evolution of economic institutions: A critical reader. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
  • Hodgson, G. M. (2007b). Introduction. In G. M. Hodgson (Ed.), The evolution of economic institutions: A critical reader (pp. 1-15). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
  • Hodgson, G. M., & Knudsen, T. (2006). Why we need a generalized Darwinism and why a generalized Darwinism is not enough. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 61, 1-19.
  • Keynes, J. M. (1936). The general theory of employment, interest and money. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Mayr, E. (2001). What evolution is. New York: Basic Books.
  • Mayr, E. (2004). What makes biology unique? Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Minsky, H. (1982). Can “it” happen again? Essays on instability and finance. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe. Mokyr, J. (1990). The lever of riches: Technological creativity and economic progress. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Nelson, R. R., & Winter, S. G. (1982). An evolutionary theory of economic change. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • North, D. (1981). Structure and change in economic history. New York: W. W. Norton.
  • North, D. (1990). Institutions, institutional change and economic performance. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • North, D. (1991). Institutions. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 5, 97-112.
  • North, D. (1994). Economic performance through time. American Economic Review, 84, 359-367.
  • Poirot, C. S. (2007). How can institutional economics be an evolutionary science? Journal of Economic Issues, 51, 155-179.
  • Polanyi, K. (1944). The great transformation. New York: Farrar and Rinehart. Schumpeter, J. (1908). Das Wesen und der Haupterhault der theoretischen Nationolokonomie [The nature and essence of theoretical economics]. Leipzig, Germany: Dunckerund Humboldt.
  • Schumpeter, J. (1950). Capitalism, socialism and democracy (3rd ed.). New York: Harper.
  • Sherman, H. (1995). Reinventing Marxism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Sherman, H. (2006). How society makes itself. New York: M. E. Sharpe.
  • Smith, A. (1937). An enquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. New York: Modern Library. (Original work published 1776)
  • Veblen, T. (1898). Why is economics not an evolutionary science? Quarterly Journal of Economics, 12, 373-397.
  • Veblen, T. (1899). The preconceptions of economic science. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 13, 121-150.
  • Whalen, C. J. (2008). Toward wisely managed capitalism: Post-Keynesianism and the creative state. Forum for Social Economics, 37, 43-60.
  • Williamson, O. E. (1985). The economic institutions of capitalism. New York: Free Press.
  • Wolf, E. (1982). Europe and the people without history. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Wunder, T., & Kemp, T. (2008). Institutionalism and the state: Founding fathers   re-examined.   Forum  for Social Economics, 37, 27-42.

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economics research paper conclusion

Writing a College Paper – The List of Economics Topics to Consider

27 October, 2021

12 minutes read

Author:  Kate Smith

If you are studying Economics, at some point in your student life you will get an essay or a research paper to complete. Most likely, you will have to write many of such papers in different subjects during four years of undergraduate studies and then during your Master’s. Besides this, you will have to write a degree paper to get your qualification. If such a perspective already makes you nervous, don’t worry: we will help you to get through these tasks. In this guide, we will make the definition of an Economics research paper clear to you, and also explain how to choose the best topic for writing. We will also share the latest Economics topics so that you can use them to complete your assignments.

Economics Topics

What Is an Economics Research Paper?

First of all, let’s find out what an Economics research paper is. An Economics research paper is an academic work written by students, graduates, or researchers of either of the Economics subfields. It aims to contribute to the current state of economics and help resolve potential economic issues.

There are a few types of Economics research papers you need to know. Below, you can find them and understand what kind of assignment you were given and how to approach it:

  • Theoretical paper. The first type of Economics research paper is a theoretical one. While writing it, one needs to construct mathematical models to understand economic behavior. Graphical models are also possible to use in theoretical papers. But you don’t need to worry about writing them: due to their complexity, they are rarely required from undergraduate students;
  • A literature survey. This is a paper that aims to review many sources on certain Economics topics that are interesting to an essay writer , compare them, and find links between them. Writing an Economics literature survey requires selecting the relevant sources on your own and reading a lot to produce a thoughtful paper.
  • An empirical paper. When writing an empirical paper, a researcher needs to provide statistical data to prove or disprove their hypothesis. Also, such a paper often makes up a literature survey as its first part. Empirical papers are a popular type of assignment in colleges and universities;
  • An issue paper. This paper deals with a certain position stated on a policy question. To resolve the issue, a student needs to use economic analysis and provide data to prove their point of view. You can base your analysis on the information received in classes, in additional reading, etc. Feel free to use graphs and tables in your paper as well. The more scholarly sources you find, the better;
  • A case note. The last type of economic paper is a case note. This assignment deals with a certain legal case that needs to be assessed from an economic and legal point of view. In this paper, a student needs to describe the peculiarities of the case, the incident that led to a certain legal action, the procedure of investigation, and the court decision on the matter. The economic analysis is used to evaluate the relevant aspects of a court decision from an economics perspective.

A Quick Guide in Choosing the Right Topic

economics research paper topics

Now that you know the types of economic research papers, you need to understand how to choose the right economics papers topics. This is one of the most important stages of writing preparation, so pay close attention to the tips below:

  • Find out what interests you the most in Economics subjects. For some reason, you have chosen Economics among dozens of other majors, so try to remember why you did it. Then, remember those economic problems you were about to resolve once you become an economist. These issues can be used as your potential Economics research paper topics;
  • Create a list of the Economic topics to write about. Write down all the issues you’d like to explore while pursuing your degree in Economics. At the moment, don’t try to develop them in detail. You will do it a bit later;
  • Pick a few topics that fall into the scope of a particular subject. Once you have the list of potentially interesting Economic topics, think about their relevance for the particular course you are studying. Do any of them sound reasonable for your current assignment? Mark them on your list if they do;
  • Read background information on each of the topics. This step is required to understand how well these topics were researched before and how many sources you can find to base your reasoning on. Don’t omit this stage since it’s essential for writing a good paper on engaging and interesting topics in Economics;
  • Discuss the chosen Economic research topics with your instructor. Now it’s time to ask your instructor to take a look at the topics of your interest and evaluate which ones fit your academic requirements best. Then, narrow down your topic to a certain issue to make your paper concrete. At this point, consider asking any questions you have regarding your research, scholarly sources, and formatting guidelines.
  • Approve your topic and start working on it. Now, pick any of the economic research paper topics from our lists for instructor’s approval and start gathering references for them.

20 Undergraduates Economics Topics for Research

  • The history of economic thought: from Ancient Times to the Medieval period.
  • The breakthroughs in economic thought in the 20th century.
  • The history of American economic thought.
  • How can governments benefit from the law of self-interest?
  • The law of competition: is it a major driver of the state economy?
  • Role of agriculture in building a stable economy.
  • The cultural heritage from an economic perspective: how can states benefit from it?
  • Factors of unemployment in South America.
  • Overcoming poverty in Venezuela: what can its government do in 2023?
  • How does literacy influence a country’s economic success?
  • Corporate social responsibility and economics: how do they correlate?
  • The role of economic forecasting in building a steadfast economy?
  • The structure of the USA market.
  • The analysis of the workforce economics in Canada.
  • Predicting the GDP of Mexico in the next five years.
  • How does a stable economy help to reduce hunger?
  • The importance of health insurance for wageworkers.
  • The effect of chronic diseases on the middle-aged workforce in the USA.
  • Is free health care beneficial for governments?
  • The international trade in the 21st century: challenges and priorities.

20 Economic Debate Topics

  • Pros and cons of taxes: is it still reasonable to pay them in the 21st century?
  • The process of production: demand vs. supply.
  • Should the government take control over the state economy?
  • How can the government influence the labor market within the state?
  • Capitalism vs socialism: a comparative analysis.
  • Being an employer or an employee: the challenges and advantages.
  • Remote work vs office work from the state economics perspective: pros and cons.
  • The pros and cons of privatization of property.
  • Why do governments implement neoliberal economic reforms in developing countries?
  • Should Americans buy only made in USA products or imported ones?
  • Should governments implement taxes for the rich?
  • Should the USA compete with China?
  • Credit cards should not be issued to those with low income.
  • How are democracy and capitalism interconnected?
  • How does war impact economic growth?
  • Governments should cancel income tax: pros and cons.
  • A perfect market cannot be reached anywhere in the world.
  • Advantages of equal taxes for all American citizens.
  • Greece’s exit from the EU did not impact other EU members.
  • Homeschooling is more beneficial economically than studying in the classroom.

20 Interesting Behavioral Economics Research Topics

  • Macy’s case study: the behavioral economics of discounting.
  • The decoy effect and pricing: how corporations make people buy more.
  • The benefits for American society from behavioral economics theory.
  • The buying motivation of consumers from a behavioral economics point of view.
  • The concept of the economy of trust.
  • Uber case study as an example of the economy of trust.
  • How consumption makes people happy and why.
  • The phenomenon of shopaholism and its impact on modern world economics.
  • How behavioral economists assess marketing: a detailed review.
  • How to apply the theory of behavioral economics to real-life problem-solving?
  • Behavioral economics as a discipline: the methods and peculiarities of teaching. 
  • Applying behavioral economics to environment protection: approaches and challenges.
  • How can entrepreneurs benefit from behavioral economics theory in the UK?
  • Why is conscious consumption good for the environment?
  • Can behavioral economics principles be used to manage substance abuse in the USA?
  • The impact of inflation on the consumer’s buying motivation.
  • Cooperative behavior on criminals and police: a comparative analysis.
  • Strategic reasoning.
  • Studying morality and social preferences: how do they correlate?
  • The concept of prospect theory and reference dependence.

20 Microeconomics Topics

  • The methodology of Microeconomics.
  • How marital status impacts the workforce composition in France.
  • Analyzing consumer behavior trends: how the consumption attitude changed over the last 20 years.
  • The market and competition concepts: how do they correlate?
  • The sources and outcomes of inflation.
  • How does competition impact pricing?
  • Finding the demand and supply balance through a microeconomics perspective.
  • Product expenses and profit explanation: how to spend less and get more out of goods production?
  • The concept of perfect competition in microeconomics (with examples).
  • Peculiarities of stock market work.
  • Finding links between income changes and consumer choice.
  • The correlation between salary level and economic convergence in Germany.
  • The impact of demonetization on small and medium businesses.
  • Salary inequalities in Virginia, USA: why do they exist and what forces are behind them?
  • The concept of economics of uncertainty.
  • What is the imperfect competition?
  • Explaining the theory of production and its application to real-life cases.
  • Studying microeconomics: the methodology of research.
  • The economic nature of a firm: what purpose do we try to achieve by starting a small business?
  • What is a natural monopoly and how is it regulated in the USA and Latin America?

20 Current Economic Topics

  • Starting a business in pandemic times: challenges and outcomes.
  • How hiring remote workers can save the state economy during COVID times?
  • How to measure the state’s economic growth during a pandemic?
  • How does gender influence buying capacity?
  • The ways to lower consumption in the 21st century.
  • Social media marketing in the USA: the potentials and challenges for new businesses.
  • The role of digital marketing in consumer demand in 2023.
  • The consumer buying capacity during COVID: did people start buying fewer goods?
  • The future of the world economy after the pandemic ends.
  • The ways to recover the state economies from the COVID recession.
  • Do governments need to rethink their current economic policies in Africa?
  • How to maintain the economic growth in Third World countries?
  • Does overtime work contribute to the production: the case study of Nairobi leather factory.
  • Green economics: the benefits for developing countries.
  • The problem of unemployment in the EU and the methods of resolving it.
  • The new ways to overcome poverty in North Africa.
  • How to provide equal access to education in rural Asia?
  • The effects of gambling on the modern US economy.
  • Immigration trends and changes during COVID restrictions.
  • The effects of fiscal policy on the modern EU economy.

Now that you have all the knowledge to write a proper Economics research paper, you can pick the best topic from dozens of themes in various economics subfields. The topics presented and analyzed above fit undergraduate as well as graduate students. So don’t hesitate to make your choice now, approve it with your professor, and start outlining your draft. Doing your best at every stage of writing will guarantee a high grade for your paper.

A life lesson in Romeo and Juliet taught by death

A life lesson in Romeo and Juliet taught by death

Due to human nature, we draw conclusions only when life gives us a lesson since the experience of others is not so effective and powerful. Therefore, when analyzing and sorting out common problems we face, we may trace a parallel with well-known book characters or real historical figures. Moreover, we often compare our situations with […]

Ethical Research Paper Topics

Ethical Research Paper Topics

Writing a research paper on ethics is not an easy task, especially if you do not possess excellent writing skills and do not like to contemplate controversial questions. But an ethics course is obligatory in all higher education institutions, and students have to look for a way out and be creative. When you find an […]

Art Research Paper Topics

Art Research Paper Topics

Students obtaining degrees in fine art and art & design programs most commonly need to write a paper on art topics. However, this subject is becoming more popular in educational institutions for expanding students’ horizons. Thus, both groups of receivers of education: those who are into arts and those who only get acquainted with art […]

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  1. How to Write a Conclusion for a Research Paper Structure & Example

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COMMENTS

  1. PDF Writing Tips For Economics Research Papers

    economics research papers, you can use present simple tense even when referring to specific past studies or your own past research. For instance: "Mullainathan (2000) ... topics outside of economics for the introduction and conclusion unless they're integral to your model. For example, if your findings bear intriguing political implications,

  2. Writing a Research Paper Conclusion

    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.

  3. PDF A Guide to Writing in Economics

    II, "Researching Economic Topics," tries to explain the scholarly and analytical approach behind economics papers. The third part, "Genres of Economics Writing," briefly surveys some of the kinds of papers and essays economists write. It is in the fourth part, "Writing Economics," that the manual homes in on discipline-specific writing.

  4. PDF How to Write a Research Paper in Economics

    What Is An Economics Research Paper? How Does One Write An Economics Research Paper? Summary Reminders for Next Week How to Write a Research Paper in Economics ... and try to draw conclusions based on these observations. No intervention by the researcher occurs here. E.g. Chattopadhyay and Duflo (2004): A natural experiment ...

  5. PDF Guidelines for Writing an Economics Research Paper

    Guidelines for Writing an Economics Research Paper Writing a good economics paper is both an exciting and a nontrivial task. It requires a sustained effort in ... Conclusion Conclude your paper with a neat summary of your results. In addition, briefly state directions for further research and, if applicable, try to explain the policy relevance ...

  6. PDF Writing in Economics

    The Conclusion sections of economics papers are the least standardized, and are an often neglected section. Conclusions may consist of a single paragraph restating the main points or main findings. Sometimes they suggest lines of future research. Your conclusion may do any or all of the following:

  7. PDF Writing Economics A Guide for Harvard Economics Concentrators

    Economics Research 1 Writing and Research Opportunities in the Concentration 1 Plan of this Guide 3 One | Writing Economically 4 ... analyze data, which is an important part of your final paper. Short Essays (4-6 pages). Short essays may require you to analyze two articles and compare their policy implications, explain a model, criticize an ...

  8. How to Write Economics Research Paper: Ultimate Guide

    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.

  9. The Young Economist's Short Guide to Writing Economic Research

    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. ... 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 ...

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

    The conclusion in a research paper is the final section, where you need to summarize your research, presenting the key findings and insights derived from your study. Check out this article on how to write a conclusion for a research paper, with examples.

  11. Mastering Economics Research Paper: Step-by-Step Approach

    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.

  12. PDF DISCUSSION PAPER SERIES

    Citation of such a paper should account for its provisional character. A revised version may be available directly from the author. ISSN: 2365-9793. Schaumburg-Lippe-Straße 5-9 53113 Bonn, Germany. IZA - Institute of Labor Economics. Phone: +49-228-3894- Email: [email protected] www.iza.org.

  13. Methods Used in Economic Research: An Empirical Study of Trends and Levels

    The methods used in economic research are analyzed on a sample of all 3,415 regular research papers published in 10 general interest journals every 5th year from 1997 to 2017. The papers are classified into three main groups by method: theory, experiments, and empirics. The theory and empirics groups are almost equally large. Most empiric papers use the classical method, which derives an ...

  14. Writing in Economics :: Components of a Research Paper

    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. ... The conclusion ...

  15. PDF Final Guide to Writing Economics Term Papers

    A Concise Guide to Writing Economics Term Papers∗. This guide is aimed at helping you write an effective undergraduate economics term paper. The guide offers advice on selecting a paper topic, describes the structure of a typical economics term paper and provides some miscellaneous helpful hints. Following these suggestions will ensure that ...

  16. How To Write An Economics Research Paper: Step-by-Step Guide

    Throughout this step-by-step guide, we have explored the essential elements of crafting an outstanding economics research paper. From choosing a topic and conducting background research to defining research questions, crafting a thesis statement, collecting and analyzing data, organizing your paper, presenting findings, and writing a coherent ...

  17. RePEc: Research Papers in Economics

    General principles RePEc (Research Papers in Economics) is an initiative that seeks to enhance the dissemination of research in Economics and related areas.We want to make research more accessible both for the authors and the readers. RePEc is a crowd-sourced effort: a) thousands of people and organizations contribute the underlying data, b) a core team of contributors manage the system, and c ...

  18. PDF How to Write a Research Paper in Economics

    How to Write an Economics Research Paper. To write an economics research paper: 1 Go step by step. As with all large projects, a research paper is much more manageable when broken down into smaller tasks. 2 The first step: Identify an interesting, specific, economic. question.

  19. Economic Theory Research Paper Topics

    In conclusion, economic theory research papers are essential in exploring the various aspects of the economy and the theories behind it. The 10 categories of economic theory research paper topics discussed in this article provide a framework for students to choose a topic that aligns with their interests and academic goals. However, selecting a ...

  20. Economics Research Paper

    Economics Research Paper. This sample economics research paper features: 7800 words (approx. 26 pages), an outline, and a bibliography with 36 sources. Browse other research paper examples for more inspiration. If you need a thorough research paper written according to all the academic standards, you can always turn to our experienced writers ...

  21. 100 Economic Research Paper Topics

    Top economics research paper topics will allow students to generate a strong paper in any economic subfield and get a high mark. US. 19292010148 . support@handmadewriting.сom. Home; ... Conclusion. Now that you have all the knowledge to write a proper Economics research paper, you can pick the best topic from dozens of themes in various ...