“The Age of the Applied Economist: The Transformation of Economics since the 1970s,” a supplement to the 2017 volume of History of Political Economy, focuses on how applied work in economics came to be dominated by theory after the 1950s.
Since the 1970s, economics has changed from a field in which the highest-status activity was abstract theorizing to one where doing good applied work is seen as paramount, whether that applied work consists of analyzing data, solving practical problems or giving policy advice. This volume defends this claim. It is now commonplace to argue that empirical work in economics has been transformed by the use of modern computers and the availability of large data sets, and that there is more empirical work in the journals. Against this, contributors argue that, though very important, the changes in economics run deeper and wider. The main change is in the status attached to applied work, not the quantity of applied work, which has always been large, and computing may have been important but it did not determine the outcome. And economics has become more deeply embedded in the process of policy making.
To learn more, read the introduction made freely available.