Open main menu

Brookings Papers on Economic Activity

The Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (BPEA) is a journal of macroeconomics published twice a year by the Brookings Institution Press.[1] Each issue of the journal comprises the proceedings of a conference held biannually by the Economic Studies program at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. The conference and journal both “emphasize innovative analysis that has an empirical orientation, take real-world institutions seriously, and is relevant to economic policy.”[2]

Brookings Papers on Economic Activity  
Edited byJanice Eberly James H. Stock
Publication details
Publication history
Brookings Press (USA)
Standard abbreviations
Brookings Pap. Econ. Activity

The journal is written in a clear and accessible manner in order to maximize understanding of economics and policymaking, and covers a variety of macroeconomic topics from housing, business investments, and fiscal and monetary policy, to international capital flows, environmental issues, and more.[3]The journal briefly released an annual issue dedicated to microeconomic issues, but this was dropped as the focus cemented around macroeconomic policy.

BPEA has been ranked as a leading journal in the field since its initial publication in 1970[4]. Economist and former editor Justin Wolfers has said that the journal is “the most public policy-focused of all serious economics journal, or, among all public policy journals, it’s the most serious economic analysis."[5] Each issue typically publishes six full-length papers, along with comments by two peer reviewers per paper, and a summary of the general discussion from the conference. The journal is released in hard copy format following the conference, and all past editions are available freely online from the Brookings website.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke contributed a paper to the Fall 2018 journal to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the financial crisis and the onset of the Great Recession. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bernanke pointed out that “[w]hen investors fled from short-term financing markets in 2008, the panic engulfing Wall Street spread to the rest of the economy…”[6]The Wall Street Journal further cited Bernanke’s BPEA contribution by noting that “Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a new paper that the credit-market panic that culminated 10 years ago when Lehman Brothers failed better explains the severity of the 2007-09 recession than the housing bust does.”[7] Bernanke also discussed in his paper the decision not to rescue Lehman Brothers, and reflected on the ramifications of that choice.[8]

Additionally, the journal also considers the social ramifications of economic policy. For example, the Spring 2019 paper “Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century” by Anne Case and Sir Angus Deaton looked deeply “at a divided America – and its crisis of suicide, overdoses, and drug- and alcohol-fueled diseases.”[9]That paper was also cited in the Washington Post for its notable findings, such as, “[s]ickness and early death in the white working class could be rooted in poor job prospects for less-educated young people as they first enter the labor market, a situation that compounds over time through family dysfunction, social isolation, addiction, obesity and other pathologies…”[10]

BPEA commenced publication in 1970 under the editorship of Arthur Okun and George Perry. Their inspiration for starting the journal was to task the best academic economists to apply themselves to real-world policy issues. Former Chair of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan was among the initial contributors to the first edition of BPEA. Following Okun's untimely death in 1980, William C. Brainard joined Perry as co-editor from 1980 to 2007. In 2008, the journal was edited by Douglas Elmendorf, N. Gregory Mankiw, and Harvard economist Lawrence H. Summers. Leading economists David Romer and Justin Wolfers served as editors from 2009 to 2015.[11] Presently, Janice C. Eberly and James H. Stock have held the editorship since 2016.[12]

Nobel Prize–Winning AuthorsEdit

Twenty-three winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics have contributed as authors or discussants for BPEA since its inception in 1970, including:

 William Nordhaus (2018)

Paul M. Romer (2018)

Oliver Hart (2016)

  Sir Angus Deaton (2015)

Jean Tirole (2014)

Robert J. Shiller(2013)

Thomas J. Sargent(2011)

Christopher A. Sims(2011)

Peter A. Diamond(2010)

Christopher A. Pissarides (2010)

Oliver E. Williamson(2009)

Paul Krugman(2008)

Edmund S. Phelps (2006)

George Akerlof (2001)

 Joseph Stiglitz (2001)

Daniel L. McFadden (2000)

Gary S. Becker (1992)

Robert Solow (1987)

Franco Modigliani (1985)

George Stigler (1982)

 James Tobin (1981)

Lawrence Klein (1980)

External linksEdit