Erin Hengel

Gender and the time cost of peer review

with D. Alexander and O. Gorelkina

In this paper, we investigate one factor that can directly contribute to—as well as indirectly shed light on the other causes of—the gender gap in academic publications: time spent in peer review. To study our problem, we link administrative data from an economics field journal with bibliographic and demographic information on the articles and authors it publishes. Our results suggest that in each round of review, referees spend 4.4 more days reviewing female-authored papers and female authors spend 12.3 more days revising their manuscripts. However, both gender gaps decline—and eventually disappear—as the same referee reviews more papers. This pattern suggests novice referees initially statistically discriminate against female authors; as their information about and confidence in the refereeing process improves, however, the gender gaps fall.

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Publishing while female

Conditionally accepted, Economic Journal.

Female authors are underrepresented in top economics journals. In this paper, I investigate whether higher writing standards contribute to the problem. I find: (i) female-authored papers are 1–6 percent better written than equivalent papers by men; (ii) the gap widens during peer review; (iii) women improve their writing as they publish more papers (but men do not); (iv) female-authored papers take longer under review. Using a subjective expected utility framework, I argue that higher writing standards for women are consistent with these stylised facts. A counterfactual analysis suggests senior female economists may, as a result, write at least five percent more clearly than they otherwise would. As a final exercise, I show tentative evidence that women adapt to biased treatment in ways that may disguise it as voluntary choice.

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Press. Libération (in French). Daily chart (The Economist). Money talks (The Economist). Times Higher Education. Inside Higher Ed (reprint from THE). Informatíon (in Danish). Also mentioned in The Economist, The New York Times (here and here), Huffington Post, Financial Times, Bloomberg View, BBC, and PolicyViz.

Gender and quality at top economics journals

with E. Moon.

We show articles published in "top-five" economics journals authored by men are cited less than articles those same journals publish by women. Additionally, men’s citations rise when they co-author with women whereas women’s citations fall while they co-author with men, conditional on acceptance. Under strong—but we believe reasonable—assumptions, our findings suggest top economics journals hold female-authored papers to higher standards and, as a result, do not publish the highest quality research. Moreover, authors of both sexes may be incentivised to forgo higher quality co-authoring opportunities with women in order to pursue lower quality collaborations with men.

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A historical portrait of female economists' co-authorship networks

with S. L. Phythian-Adams; prepared for the History of Political Economy special issue "New Historical Perspectives on Women and Economics".

This paper describes how women have contributed to the research published in influential general interest journals between 1940–2019. We find that the share of women published in these journals follows a U-shaped curve that troughs in the late 1970s—a decline that is possibly related to an increase in the number of papers being published as well as a rise in co-authoring. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, the share of women began increasing again, largely thanks to a rise in mixed-gendered papers. Co-authorship between women, on the other hand, was almost non-existent until around 2010. A decade-by-decade comparison of men's and women's co-authorship networks suggests female–female networks in the most recent decade in our data (2010–2019) roughly resemble male networks from earlier decades (1940–1959); they also highlight the key role prominent individuals play in network formation. We hypothesise that the recent growth in papers by female teams may signal that research by women collaborating with other women is receiving greater recognition in the field.

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One strike and you’re out!

with O. Gorelkina and I. Grypari.

We investigate the impact a straight-ticket voting option—a.k.a. the Master Lever—has on U.S. senators' roll-call voting records in Congress. Using a difference-in-differences framework, we find the Master Lever leads to a 3–6 percent rightward shift in senators' policy positions. The effect is largely driven by the Republican party. To interpret our results, we analyse the Master Lever's impact on electoral incentives and outcomes. Our findings suggest that ballot design has a non-negligible impact on policy-making. They also imply that electoral outcomes in moderate to right-leaning Master Lever states may be especially vulnerable to right-wing, non-partisan voters.

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The theory of straight ticket voting

with O. Gorelkina and I. Grypari; revise and resubmit, Social Choice and Welfare.

This paper explores the effects of the straight-ticket voting option (STVO) on the positions of politicians. STVO, present in some U.S. states, allows voters to select one party for all partisan elections listed on the ballot, as opposed to filling out each office individually. We analyse the effects of STVO on policy-making by building a model of pre-election competition. STVO results in greater party loyalty of candidates, while increasing the weight of non-partisan voters' positions in candidate selection. This induces an asymmetric effect on vote shares and implemented policies in the two-party system.

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Rescue Culture

In a comprehensive debt-financing model, I show rescue-centric corporate bankruptcy anticipates motives creditors do not have. Although out-of-court settlements dominate and formal procedures are rarely used, insolvent borrowers nevertheless extract concessions from creditors unless supervised reorganisation is 100 percent free. They pay for it, unfortunately, with inefficient continuation and liquidation, expensive debt and credit-rationing. Ironically, rescue culture hits hardest the firms is meant to save yet benefits creditors, whom it claims to check. Firms with long expected lifespans are either the first denied credit or the first to make investment choices that guarantee premature liquidation. Creditors, meanwhile, enjoy a profitable niche lending market in an otherwise highly competitive industry.

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Accuracy and efficiency in bankruptcy

Using data from a broad, cross-country, firm-level survey conducted over several years, I empirically test two predictions from the theoretical model in “Rescue Culture”—that reorganisation’s cost contributes to perceived financing constraints while judicial accuracy has an ambiguous effect. Indeed, cheaper reorganisation is significantly and consistently correlated with lower self-reported obstacles to finance. Accuracy, on the other hand, appears to have the anticipated ambiguous effect, although data limitations prevent definitively attributing it to the predictions of the model.

Paper available on request.

Diversity in economics seminars: who gives invited talks?

with J. Doleac and E. Pancotti. AEA Papers & Proceedings, 2021. 11:55–59.

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Gender issues in fundamental physics

with P. Ball, B. Britton, P. Moriarty, R. Oliver, G. Rippon, A. Saini and J. Wade. Quantitative Science Studies, 2021. 2(1): 263–272.

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