Research Bulletin 01: how productive are Portuguese economists?

The State of Economics Research in Portugal

with Paulo Guimarães (MARKINO)

Research in a Tweet: Despite a significant decline after 2013, the last 20 years have witnessed an upsurge in the number of international publications by Portuguese economists. However, the body of researchers is worryingly aged, and significant gender imbalances remain.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Portuguese Economic Journal, Paulo Guimarães updated his well-known 2002 article on the state of Portuguese research in Economics. In this forthcoming article, written in collaboration with Mariana Barbosa (Henley Business School, University of Reading), Paulo analyzes the performance of Portuguese researchers for the 2000-2019 period.

In this period, their number of publications in international journals in Economics trebled. However, it peaked in 2013, at 289 articles, after which nearly all institutions have experienced a decline, both in the intensive and extensive margins. Paulo speculates that the 2010-2014 financial crisis is partially responsible for this. Still, the number of high-quality publications has recently picked up. Curiously, quantity is associated with quality: institutions with the most prolific researchers tend to have a higher share of quality publications.

The study also offers a close look at academics in Economics. It identifies an ageing body of academics, experiencing slow career progression. ‘I had that perception, but the magnitude surprised me. There are few young people among our researchers.’ Indeed, in 2018 the average tenure-track professor was over 53. As for the number of years since obtaining a PhD, its average almost doubled during the period considered. ‘This requires a more careful study’, Paulo remarks, ‘but the aging body of researchers could in part explain the recent decrease in productivity.’ For Paulo, ‘this is a good topic of study, and why we decided to make the data available.’ Paulo was also surprised by the size of the remaining gender imbalances. As he notices, ‘only about a third of professors in Economics are female.’

Besides Paulo’s old interest in the state of research in Economics, what he enjoys the most is solving problems resulting from the application of econometric methods to very large databases. ‘I like to partner with someone that has a practical empirical problem that is difficult to solve and try to develop an alternative econometric approach. They are the F1 drivers, I am the mechanic.’

Paulo Guimarães is an invited full professor at FEP and the Director of the Banco de Portugal Microdata Research Laboratory (BPLIM). His main research interests include Applied Microeconometrics, Large Data Problems, Regional Economics, and Industrial Economics. He may be reached at

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