James J. Heckman, Sidharth Moktan

This paper examines the relationship between placement of publications in Top Five (T5) journals and receipt of tenure in academic economics departments. Analyzing the job histories of tenure-track economists hired by the top 35 U.S. economics departments, we find that T5 publications have a powerful influence on tenure decisions and rates of transition to tenure. A survey of the perceptions of young economists supports the formal statistical analysis. Pursuit of T5 publications has become the obsession of the next generation of economists. However, the T5 screen is far from reliable. A substantial share of influential publications appear in non-T5 outlets. Reliance on the T5 to screen talent incentivizes careerism over creativity.

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JEL Codes
A14: Sociology of Economics
I23: Higher Education and Research Institutions
J44: Professional Labor Markets; Occupational Licensing
O31: Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
tenure and promotion practices
career concerns
economics publishing