Google has released a new tool called Ngram that allows you to search their dataset of how often words and short phrases have been used in books from 1500 to 2008. The dataset contains 500 billion words in English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese and Russian. This is just one more example of the astounding welfare created by Google, generating yet another public good. I’d venture that Google creates more public goods than most countries in the world. For more on the dataset here is a good story in the Times, but for now I’m going to show the results from the searches every econ nerd will do when the first start playing with this thing.
First up is “economics”, which you can see is for the most part a 20th century word. Surprisingly, usage of “economics” has been declining since around 1995 down to levels not seen since before the 1960s.
Zooming in to the 1925-2008 window in the graph below shows the decline clearly beginning in 1995. I’m not going to draw any cause and effect here, but I just want to mention that Paul Krugman started writing for Slate in 1996, which appears to have killed all interest in writing about economics.
In all seriousness though, the recent decline could represent the move of economics related writing out of books and to the web.
“Keynesianism” has performed even worse than “economics”, although there has been a slight uptick starting at around the time of the financial crisis. Interest in Keynesianism is about where it was in the late 1970s.
At least it’s doing better than “monetarism” though, which had a smooth ride up to a peak in the 80s and has been straight down since there. There’s no sign of a revival of interest in monetarism.
Rounding out the big 3 in economics paradigms is “neoclassical economics” shown below.