an economics referee report 1

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A referee report is a critical part of the peer‐review process in academic research. When an article is submitted to an academic journal for possible publication, the editor of the journal sends out the paper to several experts who are familiar with the topic and who can evaluate the contributions and limitations of the submitted article. Each referee writes a report, which is the basis for a recommendation to the editor on whether to accept the paper for publication, to suggest that the authors revise and later resubmit the paper for publication, or to reject the paper for publication. Since each paper below has already been published, you do not need to provide this summary recommendation, but your report should consist of all of other aspects of a referee report. Your report is intended for the authors of the paper. It should be approximately three double‐spaced pages in length, and it should include the following parts:

ï‚· A summary of the paper, which discusses the main research question(s), the

methodology used by the authors, and the conclusions and contributions of the


ï‚· A discussion of whether the question or questions asked are important (or not)

and whether you find the paper convincing or not (and why?)

ï‚· A discussion of the concerns you have with the paper. These concerns could be

related to the data being used, the empirical methods, sample selection issues (do

the data seem to be a representative sample?), possible alternative explanations

for the results that the authors do not consider (or do not consider sufficiently),

and any other weaknesses of the paper.

ï‚· Finally, a referee report is meant to be constructive criticism, so, whenever

possible, provide possible suggestions for improvement.For more detailed guidelines on writing a referee report, see:

 Berk, Jonathan B., Campbell R. Harvey, and David Hirshleifer, 2015, “Preparing

a Referee Report: Guidelines and Perspectives,” available at SSRN: or

Possible Articles to Review

As is discussed in the Preface of the textbook, the course is organized around four main themes: economic growth, distributional issues, economic fluctuations, and the relationship between markets and government. The articles listed below have been recently published in either Explorations in Economic History or The Journal of Economic History, which are the two leading journals in the discipline, and each article (or articles) fits into one of these main themes. All of the articles below can be found in Canvas by the author’s or authors’ last name(s). Please select one of the following four themes for your referee report:

Theme 1: Economic Growth

There has been substantial debate and concern about the future of economic growth. The two papers below are written by two experts: Robert J. Gordon and Joel Mokyr:

  • ï‚· Gordon, Robert J., 2018, “Declining American Growth despite Ongoing Innovation, Explorations in Economic History 69, 1‐12.
  • ï‚· Mokyr, Joel, 2018, “The Past and the Future of Innovation: Some Lessons from Economic History,” Explorations in Economic History 69, 13‐26.
  • In this case, your report on this this theme will cover both papers in a “compare‐and‐ contrast” manner, but it must still include your reasoned judgements described in the bullet points on the top of page 2
  • Theme 2: Distributional Issues
  • The paper below is international and comparative in scope, and it examines the causes of long‐run economic inequality in the United States and other economies: ï‚· Bengtsson, Erik, and Daniel Waldenstrom, 2018, “Capital Shares and Income Inequality: Evidence from the Long Run,” Journal of Economic History 78(3), 712‐ 743. Theme 3: Economic Fluctuations While much has been written about the “Quantitative Easing” conducted by the Federal Reserve after the Great Recession, which began in December 2007, there was another period of Quantitative Easing during the Great Depression of the 1930s as described in the following paper: ï‚· Jaremski, Matthew, and Gabriel Mathy, 2018, “How was the Quantitative Easing Program of the 1930s Unwound?,” Explorations in Economic History 69, 27‐49. Theme 4: The Relationship between Markets and Governments After the 1906 earthquake devastated San Francisco, city planners were largely able to “start from scratch” in terms of city planning. This paper provided an example of a “natural experiment”: ï‚· Siodla, James, 2017, “Clean slate: Land‐use Changes in San Francisco after the 1906 Disaster,” Explorations in Economic History 68, 1‐16.

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