Three recommended papers on top economics journal in the latest issue of Journal of Economic Literature.
According to David Card and Stefano DellaVigna, submission to top-five journals has increased over past two decades whereas the total number of articles published actually has declined; the acceptance rate is now roughly the same as for top PhD programs at about six percent. Citations are rising for recent papers in the fields Development and International, and falling for papers in Econometrics and Theory.
Daniel Hamermesh finds that the fraction of older authors (50+) in top-three journals has almost quadrupled in past two decades. Experimental research has become increasingly popular at the expense of papers on pure theory.
And as David Stern writes, academic economists are intensely interested in journal rankings, but except for some top-ten and bottom-four ranked journals, the rankings are quite uncertain with overlapping confidence intervals.
Conclusion: if you are young, interested in pure econometric theory, have not yet started a PhD program, and want to publish only in top journals, you should consider business school.