Thursday, February 15, 2007

Why So Little Economics Research?

Browsing through Econlit in EBSCO Host databases, I could not find a single article written by an author affiliated with an Armenian Institution and published in the top 159 economics journals ranked in a study funded by the European Economic Association.

How do we explain this (other than the pains of transition)? How much of this can be explained by the lack of training, adequate tools (software and hardware), and access to data and research materials? Are there any institutional impediments to doing research? And most importantly, how do we reverse it. It will be good to hear from those of you in the field and face similar experiences.

This is not a trivial matter. Publications are critical in ranking institutions, and by proxy the quality of education. These send critical signals to potential employers and grants makers. In addition, research and publications play an important role in improving the quality of debate and discourse on public policy matters. These potentially have a civilizing effect that is sorely missed in the society.

Of course there are signs of life. For example, I was able to identify 9 papers published in recent years in journals that are unranked or weakly related to economics.

Four were written by authors affiliated with the central bank (3) and UNDP (1) and published in a special issue:

  1. Impact of Regulated Price Adjustments on Price Variability in a Very Low Inflation Transition Economy: Case of Armenia, European Journal of Comparative Economics, Spring 2005, v. 2, iss. 1, pp. 17-39.
  2. The Measurement of Co-circulation of Currencies and Dollarization in the Republic of Armenia, European Journal of Comparative Economics, Spring 2005, v. 2, iss. 1, pp. 41-65.
  3. The Evolution of Competition in Banking in a Transition Economy: An Application of the Panzar-Rosse Model to Armenia, European Journal of Comparative Economics, Spring 2005, v. 2, iss. 1, pp. 67-82.
  4. Core Inflation in a Small Transition Country: Choice of Optimal Measures, European Journal of Comparative Economics, Spring 2005, v. 2, iss. 1, pp. 83-110
Three were written by authors affiliated with the American University (2 non-Armenian):

  1. Completing Post-earthquake Replacement Housing in Rural Armenia: Did It Induce Further Investment? Housing Studies, January 2006, v. 21, iss. 1, pp. 97-112.
  2. Voucher-Financed Privatization: Lessons from the Armenian Experience, Global Business and Economics Review, December 2004, v. 6, iss. 2, pp. 280-302.
  3. Viticulture, Wine Production, and Agriculture in Armenia: Economic Sectors in Transition, Journal of Applied Business Research, Fall 2002, v. 18, iss. 4, pp. 13-23.

And one was written by authors from the State Engineering University:

  1. A Dynamical Model of Water Recycling in a Mine-Processing Enterprise, Central European Journal of Operations Research, February 2006, v. 14, iss. 1, pp. 45-57.

When I further searched by "Geographic Descriptors" rather than "Author Affiliation," I located two more papers written by authors affiliated with the Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University:

  1. Tax Reforms as Capital Market Development Factor, Transition Studies Review, 2006, v. 13, iss. 1, pp. 131-41.
  2. Rating System as a Banking Performance Regulator in the Conditions of Transition Economy, Transition Studies Review, 2005, v. 12, iss. 2, pp. 222-30.

Some progress, but much more is needed. Once again, it will be good to hear the views of others on this important subject.


nazarian said...

My theory for not having economy oriented research in Armenia is that such titans of Armenian economic mind, such as Dodi Gago or Alraghaci Lyov, do not need no stinky economic research.

David said...

Notwithstanding the damage that the oligarchs might be doing to Armenia, what do they have to do with the desire and ability of a person to excel.
What is stopping a person from grabbing data on any economic activity, doing some statistical work, comparing the findings to others (and other countries), and submiting it to be published? The upside, of course, is that by publishing they have better prospects of employment anywhere in the world.

Vahe Heboyan said...

I tried to post a comment earlier and do not why it did not come through.

what about the human capacity for conducting economic research? my believe is that more than 90% of economics students and professors in Armenia do not know what econometrics is. they are used to the what I like to call "table analysis".

one might argue, what about those that are trained abroad ? my thinking is that vast majority of them either do not come back and/or find non-economics jobs. the rest are in the organizations such as CBA, UNDP, WB that time to time produce some sort of papers.

i agree also with nazarian's comment that there is not demand for such papers. does anyone heard of a businessman who does a market demand analysis for his/her products other than a few maybe consumer quick surveys?

will be nice to look at who uses statistical data.

Good post !!!

P.S. Are you David in US?

nazarian said...

There are no securities markets in Armenia. The most sophisticated tool so far has been the bond issuance by the Cafesjian owned Cascad Bank.

I don't even think there is a secondary market to trade this bond :). There is no functional stock market in Armenia either because there are no publicly owned corporations. It's really a sad situation, and I don't see it changing any time soon.

David said...

The old saying "publish or perish" applies universally, and our young economists and researchers need to publish to get ahead regardless of the obstacles.
My former students in Yerevan used to tell me that it is access to data that makes it difficult to write. I suspect that there are many additional reasons for not writing, including language (English).
Yes it is David J. I have removed my private info from the blog -- I have been getting way too many spam emails (all of my addresses). Please use the blog email for further info.