Date of Award

December 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Member

Chungsang Lam

Committee Member

Frederick Hanssen

Committee Member

Patrick Warren

Committee Member

Yichen Zhou


This paper examined factors determine the update frequency of college economics textbook in six subjects, which are Economics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Econometrics, Industrial Organization, and Game Theory. The unique data set of books published in the U.S. between 1964 and 2018 gathered from the Internet by searching the title of the book and collected all previous versions that the textbook has. The results show that each book has its update pattern, and the update frequency is different among categories and levels. On average, it takes approximately three years to update a new edition of a book. Books in introductory and intermediate level update faster than an advanced class. An updated advanced level book takes nearly eight years to revise. The core economic class has updated faster than the elective class. Econometrics book takes approximately five years to rewrite. Industrial Organization book spends about six years to upgrade.

To see how big of the update, the table of contents analysis in Microeconomics and Macroeconomics book is analyzed. According to the analysis, every book has a new cover design, but the table of contents could be the same. The mainly introductory-level book has cosmetic changes by adding new examples, exercises, and applications. It could have switched chapter and reorganized the content to fit the new format. For the advanced book that has more than one edition, it takes a longer time to update, but once it updates, it is considered a significant change. The analysis emphasized that the amount of content changes in the introductory book is fewer compared to the advanced level book. Note that the content in the introductory text contains more timely examples and questions which is outdated faster than the advanced level, which includes the core concept and theory. The theory of durable good monopolist and planned obsolescence could be used to explain the update. Finally, the study of the competition effect found a negative effect on the probability to update a book.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.