Dollars and Jens
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Discrimination by Name

In economics there is a norm that authors are listed alphabetically... Citation counts, however, are historically assigned only to the first listed author and later listed authors are often buried under the et al. monster.

Do you think these effects are too tiny to matter? Take a look at the Yellow Pages and see how many firms choose A-names, AA-names, and AAA-names. Even more surprisingly, a new paper (free, working version, Winter 06, JEP) demonstrates that these effects have important consequences for careers in economics. Faculty members in top departments with surnames beginning with letters earlier in the alphabet are substantially more likely to be tenured, be fellows of the Econometrics Society, and even win Nobel prizes (let's see, Arrow, Buchanan Coase...hmmm). No such effects are found in psychology where the alphabetical norm is not followed.

So reports Tabarrok.

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