Ten years ago, a survey published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives found that 77 percent of the doctoral candidates in the leading American economics programs agreed or strongly agreed with the statement "economics is the most scientific of the social sciences."
In the intervening decade, a massive economic crisis rocked the global economy, and most economists never saw it coming. Nevertheless, little has changed: A new paper from the same publication reveals how economists continue to believe that their science is superior to all other social sciences, such as political science, sociology, anthropology, etc. While there may be budding intentions to appeal to other disciplines in order to enrich their theories (especially psychology and neuroscience), the reality is that economists almost exclusively study—and cite—each other.
The authors of the article, Marion Fourcade, Etienne Ollion, and Yann Algan, looked at the 25 most respected publications in each of three disciplines: economics, politics, and sociology. They found that between 2000 and 2009, The American Economic Review (AER), the most prestigious economics journal, published articles in which 40 percent of the citations referred to the other 24 major economic publications. In contrast, just 0.8 percent of citations referred to political-science peer-reviewed journals and a meager 0.3 percent to sociology publications. (The majority of the citations went to books or publications not among the 25 the researchers included.) This is to say that in all the texts published in the top 50 journals in the other two social sciences in over ten years, economists found only about 1 percent of articles worth mentioning.