Saturday, August 30, 2014

"Economic Growth and the Transition from Traditional to Modern Energy in Sweden" to be Published in Energy Economics

We started working on this paper when I visited Sweden in September 2010. It took a while till we were both happy with the paper. Then we submitted it to what I think is the top economic history journal. We got a revise and resubmit. I worked hard to do exactly what the referees wanted but the editor rejected the paper. I think this was a first for me. Of course, I had declined to resubmit papers in the past because I thought the chances were better elsewhere. Then we submitted to another economic history journal who gave us a revise and resubmit too. But this time we decided to not resubmit as it seemed unlikely we could please the referees. So, then I submitted the paper to Energy Economics and got a "minor revisions" and now it is accepted. This is a fairly typical story I think in terms of time taken and submissions made.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Jakob et al. (2012) Revisited

A recent paper by Jakob et al. (2012) finds that there is decoupling between growth in energy use and growth in GDP in developed countries. The authors regress the first differences between five year period means of log per capita energy use on the same transformation of GDP per capita separately for panels of OECD and non-OECD countries. They have 21 OECD and 30 non-OECD countries between 1971 and 2010. They estimate that the elasticity in developing countries is 0.631 (standard error = 0.167) and in developed countries -0.181 (0.343).

I was curious why these results are very different from those in our stylized facts paper where we find a stable monotonic relationship between energy use and PPP GDP per capita over the 1971-2010 period for 99 countries (75 non-OECD, 24 OECD) with an elasticity of around 0.70. Obviously, Jakob et al.'s method is different, their sample is smaller, and they also use market exchange rates. So, I re-estimated their model using our dataset. I find that the elasticity in developing countries is 0.395 (0.081) and in OECD countries 0.479 (0.078). This is in line with our stylized facts results. The numbers are lower probably due to using differences and country and time fixed effects.

In supplementary material, Jakob et al. report that when they use PPP GDP data from the World Development Indicators the elasticity estimates are 0.626 (0.180) and -0.353 (0.474) for non-OECD and OECD countries respectively. I would have doubted that the differences are mostly due to the different source of PPP data  - we used the Penn World Table - but our OECD sample only includes three countries omitted by Jakob et al. So, this will need further investigation.


Jakob, M., M. Haller, and R. Marschinski (2012). “Will History Repeat Itself? Economic Convergence and Convergence in Energy Use Patterns.” Energy Economics 34: 95–104.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax with Global Temperature Indexation

The Climate Colab at MIT is running a competition for innovative climate policy proposals. Richard Hobbs is a local contender in this competition. You can support his proposal or make comments here. The winner will get to fly to MIT to present their proposal to US politicians, policy makers, economists, business executives and NGOs. Richard's proposal is a revenue-neutral carbon tax meant as a policy platform for the Republicans to bring forward to the next US election. It is revenue-neutral (cutting capital gains taxes and corporate taxes) and it is temperature indexed (so if climate sceptics are right the price trends to a low level).

Monday, August 4, 2014

Online Accessibility of Scholarly Literature, and Academic Innovation

Kevin Staub presented this paper today at ANU. They download data on all papers in fifty core economics journals over the decades of the 1990s and 2000s during which academic journals gradually went online. They test the effect of the fraction of references cited in article being online on the diversity of references cited. Diversity is measured by the average citation difference between articles in the reference list. Imagine I write an article and in the reference list I cite this paper by Kevin Staub and Martin Weitzman's article on recombinant growth cited by Staub then the distance between those two articles is 1. If I also cite Paul Romer's article "The Origins of Endogenous Growth" cited by Weitzman then the distance between Staub's paper and Romer's is 2 and between Weitzman and Romer is 1. Controlling for time and journal fixed effects and some other control variables they found that there were significant increases in the share of references with distances of 3 or greater the more of the reference list was available online. This seems expected to me as people find it easier to search for literature beyond the reference lists or even the forward citations of articles they have already seen as more of the literature is searchable online.

But the paper contains another result which I found much less expected and much more interesting that I think deserves a paper of its own. They found that papers with higher average distances between items on their reference lists received higher numbers of citations 20, 30, or 40 years down the track than papers with less diverse reference lists. So, this supports the notion that papers that bring together articles that were not previously cited together are more innovative. One might expect papers with more eclectic references to be produced by less professional more dilettantish authors. Of course, these papers were all published in the fifty core economics journals, so that probably acts to filter out the more outlandish papers or papers written by "outsiders" that are doomed to be ignored.

Frank Jotzo Responds to Danny Price

Frank has an op ed in today's Australian Financial Review - responding to Danny Price's op-ed last Wednesday which I also commented on, on this blog, last week. Here is a non-paywalled version of Frank's op-ed.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Follow Me on Twitter

I'm planning on tweeting all my blogposts from now on, so you can follow me on Twitter. My username is sterndavidi. I've had a Twitter account since 2009 but never really used it much until now.

Friday, August 1, 2014

New ANU Open Access Policy

ANU researchers are now required to submit all published research outputs to our institutional open access repository. Details of the policy are here. Material should be submitted here. Previously, this was on a voluntary basis. Holders of ARC grants would have needed to justify why outputs of their project were not available on an open access basis. As in economics we have a very strong working paper culture this seems unnecessary. But that isn't the case in other disciplines and I guess a one size fits all policy is easier to implement and enforce.