Greg Mankiw's Blog: Larry, Vindicated
Greg Mankiw links to a post by Mark Perry on disciplinary differences in GRE scores.
You can find a longer and older discussion of this in my one of the my favorite articles in the Journal of Labor Economics by Paglin and Rufolo. A gated version is here.
These disciplinary differences are very real and leads to a number of thoughts:
First, it is important to remember that these are means. There are plenty of people in sociology and political science with very high GRE scores. This becomes very apparent at a place like Michigan that has top departments (higher ranked in their respective disciplines than economics is) in both fields.
Second, at schools outside the top 30 in economics interdisciplinary work is often difficult because the quality of economics departments falls off much less rapidly than the quality of political science and sociology departments.
Third, these patterns in scores across fields result in part from the types of work done in various fields. Students who are not good at math select into fields where formal theoretical work and high tech econometrics / statistics play a smaller role. Even within economics, there is clear sorting into subfields such as highbrow theory and theoretical econometrics based on math skills.
Fourth, economics benefits in many ways, as a field, from the decision to be quite technical. First, the technical requirements sort a lot of ideologues into other fields. Second, we do not spend a lot of disciplinary energy fighting over the relative importance of qualitative and quantitative work within economics. Such fighting in sociology and political science wastes huge amounts of time and intellectual energy. There are also costs, though, in things like the marginalizing of economic history in the profession.
It's really quite easy.
1 year ago