We are in front of a new job-market season, when all old Ph.D. students look for jobs. They will send out their packages, which are bound to be heavy, because there is some belief that long papers are better than short papers. They did not invent this technique, writing long papers. Look at Econometrica or JET, and you will find many papers with an extremely long introduction, that could be summarized in half the space. A paper of 50 pages is the standard. How many bright ideas require 50 pages?
When I was in high school, I had to do a chore on “Crime and Punishment”. To those lucky ones who didn’t have to read it, I will reveal that it is more than 1000 pages long. I simply couldn’t do it. I had a 400-page shorter version. I couldn’t read it either. Eventually I settled for a 50-page summary. And I got the second highest grade in class. So either the other students didn’t even read the 50-page summary, or the 50-page summary is enough to get the essence of “Crime and Punishment”. I am confident that this is not unique to Russian writers, and most 50-page papers can be summarized in 10 pages.
So why do Economists write 50-page papers? Why did we drift to this equilibrium that make us give up reading papers, because they are too long?