The Age of the Applied Economist: The Transformation of Economics since the 1970s

The Age of the Applied Economist: The Transformation of Economics since the 1970s. 2017. Edited by Roger E. Backhouse and Béatrice Cherrier. Supplement to volume 49 of HOPE. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

"The Age of the Applied Economist: The Transformation of Economics since the 1970s," by Roger E. Backhouse and Béatrice Cherrier (pp. 1–33). The period in which being a theorist was the most prestigious activity for an economist to engage in (a period that in its most extreme form turned out to be remarkably short lived) evolved into the current situation in which economists take pride in being applied

"Theory and Measurement: Emergence, Consolidation, and Erosion of a Consensus," by Jeff E. Biddle and Daniel S. Hamermesh (pp. 34–57). A survey of the content of economic journal articles confirms that there was a rise and subsequent decline of a consensus about how theory should be used in empirical microeconomic research

"Theorizing Application: The Case of Evolutionary Biology’s Theory of Games," by Paul Erikson (pp. 58–77). Distinctions between “pure” or “basic” science and applied science appear to underwrite particular economies of credit within the scientific community and beyond.

"Applied General Equilibrium Analysis: Birth, Growth, and Maturity," by Charles L. Ballard and Marianne Johnson (pp. 78–102). The relative decline of applied general equilibrium analysis is due to to a variety of credibility issues and to high barriers to entry into the field, as well as to a competition for attention from other tools such as experimental and quasi-experimental methods.

“'It’s Computers, Stupid!' The Spread of Computers and the Changing Roles of Theoretical and Applied Economics," by Roger E. Backhouse and Béatrice Cherrier (pp. 103–26). The transformation of applied economics is related not just to the rise of computing but also to policy challenges, changes in the issues that concerned economists, social changes such as the acceptability of making proprietary data available to researchers, and new demands from business.

"The Empirical Economist’s Toolkit: From Models to Methods," by Matthew T. Panhans and John D. Singleton (pp. 127–57). The transition to applied economics can be viewed as a transition from models to methods: quasi-experimental methods and methodology form core components of current applied economics practice, becoming the "off-the-shelf equipment of the laboratory."

"'A Model to 'Make Decisions and Take Actions': Leif Johansen’s Multisector Growth Model, Computerized Macroeconomic Planning, and Resilient Infrastructures for Policymaking," by Verena Halsmayer (pp. 158–86). Applied models, far from being passive instruments, shaped the objects, procedures, and goals of economic planning.

"From Economic to Social Regulation: How the Deregulatory Moment Strengthened Economists’ Policy Position," by Elizabeth Popp Berman (pp. 187–212). The deregulatory moment of the late 1970s increased the policy influence of economics in the United States by linking the efforts of two distinct communities of economists: a systems analytic group and an industrial organization (I/O) group

"Constructing Markets: Environmental Economics and the Contingent Valuation Controversy," by H. Spencer Banzhaf (pp. 213–39). As economists took up the task of measuring the “demand” for environmental services not traded in markets, some chose to substitute survey-based methods known as contingent valuation, only to find themselves in the uncomfortable position of self-evidently constructing their observations rather than merely observing them

"Allocating Airport Slots: The History of Early Applied Experimental Research," by Andrej Svorenčík (pp. 240–63). The emerging practice of applied experimental research was a multilayered endeavor which involved an interplay among theoretical, empirical, and practical considerations, demonstrating that applied experimental economics research went hand in hand with the emergence and rise of experimental economics.

"Theory and Practice in Development Economics," by Michele Alacevich (pp. 264–91). In the 1960s, development economics started to apply, systematically, tools such as cost-benefit analysis and input-output analysis and it also became much more formalized than it was before, leading to a much more conventional application of theory to the problem of development.