Organized in 1885, the American Economic Association (AEA) holds a three-day meeting each January to present papers on general economic subjects. The meeting is held in conjunction with approximately 55 associations in related disciplines. Over 520 scholarly sessions are held. The latest meeting was held in San Diego, California, and the next one will be in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Our contributor James W. Fox writes a review of what he saw at the meeting.
Meeting attendance was slightly below last year, with 11,400 participants. There was little on development at the meetings. It was all financial crises, risk and uncertainty, and why things aren’t as simple as we thought.
San Diego, as expected, had blue skies and pleasant temperatures. Asians and women seemed even more evident than ever to me, the latter evident everywhere except the head table for the plenary sessions. There, women managed to occupy 3 or 4 of the 18 or so seats at the head table, even counting AEA President Claudia Goldin. Still, it was an improvement over plenary sessions in some recent years, where no women sometimes graced the head table. While Asians seemed more prominent, there was a decline of 6% in the incidence of the five most common names (all Asian) in the pre-registration. Last year, there was a 22% increase. For my druthers, there was an absence of big-concept stars this year. Too many macro theoreticians and too many central bankers, and too little big thinking.
My ex-USAID and related colleagues appeared to have boycotted the meetings, as I saw no one I recognized during the entire three days, other than the various eminences. Of those, only Angus Deaton knew me. (I finally found one friendly face at the airport on the way out.)
Next year’s meeting is in Philadelphia. Be there or be square.