That was the question I posed last night on Twitter. Maybe I better question would have been, why aren’t micro blogs more popular?
Now I don’t have any data on whether there are less microeconomics blogs or whether they get less traffic, but that is my impression. Most people agreed with me too. Of course there are counterexamples (Freakonomics, Marginal Revolution, Chris Blattman), depending on how one defines “microeconomics blog”. There are blogs on every topic imaginable and every blog touches on micro topics. But the blogs that I see talked about on Twitter and from other blogs are almost always macro focused.
For the sake of argument, let’s say it is true that micro has fewer/less popular blogs. Then the next question is, why?
Here were some of the suggestions
- Micro isn’t as political from Matthew Martin
- Micro is too specialized from Ryan Decker
- Macro has a large audience of people in business from Claudia Sahm
All these make sense to me. Yet, I’m not completely satisfied with any of the answers.
First, micro can be political too. Yes, pure micro theory is not political; nor is applied work concerned with identification political. But neither is macro. Solving an OLG or Neoclassical Growth model is not inherently political either. Yet, when macro gets applied, especially to monetary policy, people make it political. That adds a huge readership and drives macro blogging. It’s fun to see Krugman and Cochrane go back and forth.
Micro can be the same way. It’s political when it gets applied to policy. I’m not just thinking about minimum wage, but also topics like regulation and patent protection. Microeconomists analyze all these and they are inherently political. Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell have made a living for a long time by writing popular pieces from a microeconomics point of view. There is no reason microeconomists couldn’t debate taxation online. Yes, many macro bloggers have taken this up too.
Secondly, I don’t see how micro is more specialized than macro. Research in both fields is highly specialized. Yet, most blogs are not about leading research. Instead, they are brought down to a more basic level that non-specialists can understand. I see no reason a microeconomist working on development couldn’t blog about identification problems in IO. Trade economists blog about monetary policy.
I think the most compelling point was Claudia’s. Macro has a natural readership of people involved in business and finance. Again, I see no reason these same people wouldn’t read industry or policy analysis from a microeconomist. Explaining the state of some industry or the effects of some policy seem extremely beneficial to businesses. Businesses hire microeconomists to do this. (Maybe that is why people don’t blog for free…) Of course, monetary policy affects all businesses, while micro policies are more, well, micro.
But I refuse to give up hope.
People suggested two options which I would love to see.
- A group on microeconomists that blog on different topics. One blogger writes about healthcare policy. One writes about regulation. This would avoid the specialization problem about microeconomics.
- A whole blog could be about industrial organization.
Until then, I hope to encourage a group of microeconomists to pick up blogging. That is my new crusade (after prelims, of course). I hope all my readers will join me in this fight.