Also, which subfield is the most mathematical?
The subfields have a lot of important differences, but I don't think that which is more respected is at all clear cut. Every subfield has several world-famous economists working in it; respect is much more a function of the quality of the economist than the field. Respect in some (econometric theory) is discontinuous--that is there are a few stars and the others don't get much attention--while respect in others (most types of applied micro) is more smooth. Going into a field with "discontinuous" respect is a risky move, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it.
*If heterodox counts as a subfield, it's probably the least respected.
I have limited exposure to current research in theory, but I would speculate that econometric theory is the most mathematical.
I think Arrow-Debreu style General equilbrium theory is something most people have admiration for. It's seems to be dead as a research field but it's well-liked.
EDIT: Oh and I think if you follow Debreu down the rabbit hole, you end up in some of the most heavily mathematical parts of economic theory.
Last edited by heraclitus_junior; 06-27-2010 at 05:56 AM.
I would imagine it might be a mix of those two reasons (or others, I guess), but which one would be the larger contributing factor to the dearth of research in that area?
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The least respected field in econ is definitely history of economic thought. I had one prof as a UG who had a bunch of HET publications, but almost all were after he received tenure and what he published before tenure was on the development of mathematics in general equilibrium theory. Another UG prof of mine is not yet tenured and has interests in HET but will probably not publish in it until after tenure (she published one paper that was a mixed macro-theory/HET paper about reviving and updating some old ideas on reserve currencies). Except at the few heterodox schools, it is nearly impossible to publish in HET prior to receiving tenure, and even after tenure most of your colleagues will look down on you.
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