On the divergence of evolutionary research paths in the past 50 years: a comprehensive bibliometric account

Regular Article


In the last two decades, there has been a noticeable increase in published research on evolutionary economics. The general perception is that formalization lags behind appreciative work. Notwithstanding, this general reading has yet to be supported by real data analysis. This work presents a survey on evolutionary economics, aimed at exploring the main research paths and contributions using bibliometric methods. The documentation is based on an extensive review of the abstracts from articles published in all economic journals over the past 50 years gathered from the Econlit database. Evolutionary contributions have apparently not converged to an integrated approach. Two rather extreme main research strands emerged: ‘History of Economic Thought and Methodology’ and ‘Games’. Whereas formal approaches have a reasonable and increasing share of published papers, purely empirical-related works are relatively scarce, representing a meagre and stagnant percentage of published works. This highlights the need to redirect the evolutionary research agenda.


Evolutionary Methodology Bibliometry Econlit 

JEL Classification

B52 B41 C89 



A previous version of this paper was presented at Max Planck Institute of Economics and circulated in the discussion paper series ‘The Papers on Economics and Evolution’, #0624, edited by the Evolutionary Economics Group, MPI Jena. We are deeply indebt to Ulrich Witt for valuable and useful comments and suggestions on earlier versions. Moreover, we thank two anonymous referees and the Editor, Luigi Orsenigo, for their insights. The usual disclaimers apply.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra Tavares Silva
    • 1
  • Aurora A. C. Teixeira
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculdade de Economia do Porto, CEMPREUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.Faculdade de Economia, CEMPRE, INESC PortoUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal

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