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Theory versus Application: Does Complexity Crowd Out Evidence?

Philip R. P. Coelho () and James E. McClure ()
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Philip R. P. Coelho: Department of Economics, Ball State University
James E. McClure: Department of Economics, Ball State University

Southern Economic Journal, 2005, vol. 71, issue 3, 556-565

Abstract: Donald F. Gordon hypothesized that mathematical complexity in economics is inversely related to operationalism. Here we (i) operationalize Gordon's hypothesis, (ii) test for the significance of trends in complexity for the American Economic Review, Economic Journal, Journal of Political Economy, and Quarterly Journal of Economics, and (iii) test Gordon's hypothesis by conducting analyses of the contents of articles from the American Economic Review (AER), as well as the contents of articles citing the AER articles. The results do not refute the hypothesis that complexity crowds out operationalism in economics. Additionally, the presence of significant, positive trends toward complexity suggests that the magnitude of the crowding out is on the rise in these journals.

JEL-codes: A11 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2005
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