I’m sure you can guess the title.
In a paper set to be presented at a January 4 conference in Boston, four economists with the surname of “Goodman” wrote about surname-sharing in economics (via John Overholt of Harvard’s Houghton Library).
The authors include Allen Goodman of Wayne State University, Joshua Goodman of Harvard University, Lucas Goodman of the University of Maryland, and Sarena Goodman of the Federal Reserve Board.
The title: “A Few Goodmen: Surname-Sharing Economist Coauthors.”
As the authors write in their conclusion, “Our main contribution is showing that such a collaboration is feasible.” Which is excellent.
The paper will be presented as part of the American Economics Association’s 7th Annual Economics Humour Session in Honour of Caroline Postelle Clotfelter. Some of the other titles set to be presented at the conference include, “Was that Rational? The American Economic (Year in) Review”, “Homer-Economicus: The Simpsons and Economics”, and “Rockonomix: Integrating Economics and Popular Music.”
Back in November, Paul Krugman wrote about the intra-disciplinary hand-wringing that was going on in economics following a paper that said, basically, successful academic economists are really arrogant. So it’s good to see some economists taking a break from in-fighting and urging for more collaboration among authors that share names.
But the excerpt of the Goodman paper made available ahead of the conference isn’t just, well, a big joke or something.
As the Goodmans write, “The phenomenon of coauthorship in the economics profession has been widely explored.”
The authors note that in 2012, less than 25% of economics articles were written by a single author, and find that research has shown evidence of “alphabetical discrimination,” meaning that economists with earlier surname initials have greater career success.
Good thing I’m not an economist.
The Goodmans also find that among 9,000 unique economists, 45% share a surname with at least one other economist, and within that group, that 10% share a surname with more than 10 other economists. The most popular surnames among economists are:
- Smith (35)
- Lee (30)
- Brown (24)
- Chen (22)
- Miller (21)
The Goodmans also uncovered a 2008 paper from the Van Praag father-daughter tandem that explored phenomenon of alphabetical discrimination, which the Goodmans write, “for whom the issue is quite salient in all research but the paper in question.”
The Goodmans also conclude that they are the first paper written by four economists with same surname, arguing that the 2012 paper written by Skarbek, Skarbek, Skarbek, and Skarbek contains just two economists — Brian and Erin Skarbek are husband and wife attorneys, while David and Emily Skarbek are the economists. Additionally, the Goodmans argue that since the research for the project began before either woman took the Skarbek name, “We therefore suspect that the share surnames may be endogenous to the publication process itself.”
The paper concludes with the Goodmans naming names and calling for action:
“Future breakthroughs on this topic should be possible. We believe much could be learned if only economists John Turner (University of Georgia), Lesley Turner (University of Maryland), Nicholas Turner (US Treasury Department) and Sarah Turner (University of Virginia) would find a way to work together. Substantial progress might also come from collaboration between Janet Smith (Claremont McKenna College), Jeffrey Smith (University of Michigan), Jeremy Smith (University of Warwick), and Jonathan Smith (College Board), whose work could explore the impact of both surname-sharing and first initial-sharing. Finally, we encourage cousins Erzo F.P. Luttmer (Dartmouth College) and Erzo G.J. Luttmer (University of Minnesota) to consider collaborating for reasons too obvious to state. This area seems ripe for exploration.”
We’ve embedded the preview below.