The paper uses bibliometric data from JSTOR and Web of Science to assess the rise of mathematical and quantitative methods in economics between 1940 and 2017. My claim is that the top journals of economics have impacted the formalization of economics, since the publication of new models and methods in these journals has positive externalities on the network of economics journals in the sense that it opens new avenues for research such as new applications and extensions of the models and methods. Moreover, it is argued that the role of the top journals as gate-keepers of economic discourse is not only a possible explanation for the formalization of economics, but it also has implications for contemporary economics. More specifically, I compare three leading journals, The American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy and The Quarterly Journal of Economics with economics as a whole and it is shown that the use of mathematical and quantitative methods has grown sharply between 1940 and 1980 and has remained constant thereafter. Analyzing separately theoretical and applied papers, the results indicate that while the proportion of applied papers has grown steadily in the three journals since 1955, the proportion of theoretical papers has grown sharply between 1940 and 1980, and has declined afterwards. Furthermore, I employ co-word analysis to investigate trends in economics between 1990 and 2017 using abstracts from fifteen journals, it is shown that the shift from theoretical to applied research has intensified in recent years.
Keywords: Mathematization of Economics, Top Journals, Sociology of Economics
JEL: A11, A14, B23, C88