Econ Journal Watch asked academics with high citation counts to pick their most underappreciated article. I participated in the project, along with a number of prominent scholars from various disciplines.
Econ Journal Watch recently asked scholars with at least 4000 total citations to their works listed on Google Scholar to submit a description of their most “underappreciated” article. The work in question had to have a publication date prior to 2012 and a citation count on Google Scholar lower than the author’s H-Index on that site; it also could not have been incorporated into a book. I have just under 4400 Google Scholar citations, so I qualify.
Therefore I submitted my pick: “What if Kelo v. City of New London Had Gone the Other Way?,” Indiana Law Review 45 (2011): 21-39. Econ Journal Watch published my summary of what the article is about, along with entries by other qualifying scholars:
The article challenges the conventional wisdom on the impact of one of the Supreme Court’s most controversial modern rulings, which held that government could take property for private “economic development.” Some have suggested that, because defeat led to a major political backlash against eminent domain abuse, the decision actually aided the cause of property rights protection. I argue that property rights advocates would have been better off had they won the case. In addition, I develop a more general framework for using counterfactual analysis to assess the impact of court decisions. The latter is relevant far beyond the specific context of the Kelo case.
Why is the article underrated? The biggest reason, I think, is that most people ignored the more general framework for counterfactual analysis of the impact of court decisions, which has relevance far beyond Kelo. In addition, the article was overshadowed by my own other, better-known works about Kelo and eminent domain, including my book on that subject. Another factor is that it was published in a symposium in a non-top tier law journal.
While this is, in my view, my most underrated article that fits the criteria, my truly most underrated article is probably this one, which missed the cut because it was published in 2014, and was later partly incorporated in a book.
The Econ Journal Watch underrated articles compendia (see here and here), include many interesting nominations by prominent scholars, including Nick Bostrom, Andrew Gelman, Sam Peltzman, Richard Wagner, Bryan Caplan, Alex Tabarrok, and many others. Because EJW is run by economists, there are more submissions from that field than others. But there are still some from other fields, including my own contribution.
UPDATE: Cynics might ask whether I think I have any overrated articles. Indeed, I do! The most overrated is probably this one. The catchy title (“Knowledge About Ignorance”) may explain how it got so much attention.
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