The essay format is increasingly popular in economics, according to a new paper by Wendy Stock and John Siegfried in the American Economic Review (gated, ungated). They find that "most of the evidence suggests that essay-style dissertations enhance economists’ early career research productivity."
Here are some other trends they identify:
- Economics dissertations in the form of essays rose from 0.3 percent of the total in 1970 to 69 percent in 2010
- Economists who take an academic position are more likely to have written a dissertation consisting of essays (it would be interesting to see this conditional probability reversed)
- Students in higher-ranking programs, in the micro-economics subfield, and from outside of the US adopted this strategy earlier than others
I am grateful that my own department permits the multiple-essay format. Although I have not submitted a dissertation prospectus yet I anticipate that I will go this route myself.