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Archive of posts filed under the Economics category.

Who’s afraid of prediction markets? (Hanson vs. Thicke)

In a post entitled, “Compare Institutions To Institutions, Not To Perfection,” Robin Hanson slams a recent paper by Michael Thicke that criticizes prediction markets. Hanson summarizes: Unfortunately many responses to reform proposals fit the above pattern: reject the reform because it isn’t as good as perfection, ignoring the fact that the status quo is nothing […]

I’ll use this line in my talk this Wednesday at the Society for Research on Educational Effectivness

I had a conversation with a policy analyst about the design of studies for program evaluation—the post is scheduled to appear in a few months—and he expressed some frustration: The idea of evidence based policy has put a gun to our heads as researchers to give binary responses with absolute confidence to a question that […]

“If I wanted to graduate in three years, I’d just get a sociology degree.”

From an interview with a UCLA QB who’s majoring in economics: Look, football and school don’t go together. They just don’t. Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs. . . . No one in their right mind should have a football player’s schedule, and go to school. It’s not that […]

Research project in London and Chicago to develop and fit hierarchical models for development economics in Stan!

Rachael Meager at the London School of Economics and Dean Karlan at Northwestern University write: We are seeking a Research Assistant skilled in R programming and the production of R packages. The successful applicant will have experience creating R packages accessible on github or CRAN, and ideally will have experience working with Rstan. The main […]

354 possible control groups; what to do?

Jonas Cederlöf writes: I’m a PhD student in economics at Stockholm University and a frequent reader of your blog. I have for a long time followed your quest in trying to bring attention to p-hacking and multiple comparison problems in research. I’m now myself faced with the aforementioned problem and want to at the very […]

Education, maternity leave, and breastfeeding

Abigail Haddad writes: In today’s column, How We Are Ruining America, David Brooks writes that “Upper-middle-class moms have the means and the maternity leaves to breast-feed their babies at much higher rates than high school-educated moms, and for much longer periods.” He’s correct about college grads being more likely to have access to maternity leave, […]

The Trumpets of Lilliput

Gur Huberman pointed me to this paper by George Akerlof and Pascal Michaillat that gives an institutional model for the persistence of false belief. The article begins: This paper develops a theory of promotion based on evaluations by the already promoted. The already promoted show some favoritism toward candidates for promotion with similar beliefs, just […]

(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Evidence, Policy, and Understanding

[link] Kevin Lewis asked me what I thought of this article by Oren Cass, “Policy-Based Evidence Making.” That title sounds wrong at first—shouldn’t it be “evidence-based policy making”?—but when you read the article you get the point, which is that Cass argues that so-called evidence-based policy isn’t so evidence-based at all, that what is considered […]

“The following needs to be an immutable law of journalism: when someone with no track record comes into a field claiming to be able to do a job many times better for a fraction of the cost, the burden of proof needs to shift quickly and decisively onto the one making the claim. The reporter simply has to assume the claim is false until substantial evidence is presented to the contrary.”

Mark Palko writes: The following needs to be an immutable law of journalism: when someone with no track record comes into a field claiming to be able to do a job many times better for a fraction of the cost, the burden of proof needs to shift quickly and decisively onto the one making the […]

Incentive to cheat

Joseph Delaney quotes Matthew Yglesias writing this: But it is entirely emblematic of America’s post-Reagan treatment of business regulation. What a wealthy and powerful person faced with a legal impediment to moneymaking is supposed to do is work with a lawyer to devise clever means of subverting the purpose of the law. If you end […]

Benefits and limitations of randomized controlled trials: I agree with Deaton and Cartwright

My discussion of “Understanding and misunderstanding randomized controlled trials,” by Angus Deaton and Nancy Cartwright, for Social Science & Medicine: I agree with Deaton and Cartwright that randomized trials are often overrated. There is a strange form of reasoning we often see in science, which is the idea that a chain of reasoning is as […]

Nudge nudge, say no more

Alan Finlayson puts it well when he writes of “the tiresome business of informing and persuading people replaced by psychological techniques designed to ‘nudge’ us in the right direction.” I think that’s about right. Nudging makes sense as part of a package that already includes information and persuasion. For example, tell us that smoking causes […]

Your (Canadian) tax dollars at work

Retraction Watch links to this amazing (in a bad way) article by “The International Consortium of Investigators for Fairness in Trial Data Sharing” who propose that “study investigators be allowed exclusive use of the data for a minimum of 2 years after publication of the primary trial results and an additional 6 months for every […]

The problem of media concentration/deregulation “is usually treated as a series of unrelated problems, much like a cocaine addict who complains about his drug problem, bankruptcy, divorce, and encounters with loan sharks, but who never makes a causal connection between the items on the list”

Palko writes: There’s a huge problem that people aren’t talking about nearly enough. . . . Think about all of the recent news stories that are about or are a result of concentration/deregulation of media power and the inevitable consequences. Obviously, net neutrality falls under this category. So does the role that Facebook, and, to […]

Yes, Virginia, it can be rational to vote!

Carl Shulman correctly thought I’d be interested in this news item, “A single vote leads to a rare tie for control of the Virginia legislature”: A Republican seat flipped Democratic in a wild recount Tuesday – with the Democrat winning by a single vote – creating a rare 50-50 tie between the parties in the […]

Ready Money

Richard Reeves writes: Most of the people on the highest rung [which he elsewhere defines as the highest fifth of the income distribution] in America are in denial about their privilege. The American myth of meritocracy allows them to attribute their position to their brilliance and diligence, rather than to luck or a rigged system. […]

What’s the point of a robustness check?

Diomides Mavroyiannis writes: I am currently a doctoral student in economics in France, I’ve been reading your blog for awhile and I have this question that’s bugging me. I often go to seminars where speakers present their statistical evidence for various theses. I was wondering if you could shed light on robustness checks, what is […]

I know less about this topic than I do about Freud.

Someone who I don’t know writes: Hi Andrew, I hope this email finds you well. Hey, that’s interesting: I’m on a first-name basis with this person who cares about my health, but I have no idea who he is. Or if he’s a bot. I guess a bot could care about my health too, inasmuch […]

I hate that “Iron Law” thing

Dahyeon Jeong wrote: While I was reading your today’s post “Some people are so easy to contact and some people aren’t”, I’ve come across your older posts including “Edlin’s rule for routinely scaling down published estimates.” In this post you write: Also, yeah, that Iron Law thing sounds horribly misleading. I’d not heard that particular […]

Fitting multilevel models when predictors and group effects correlate

Ryan Bain writes: I came across your ‘Fitting Multilevel Models When Predictors and Group Effects Correlate‘ paper that you co-authored with Dr. Bafumi and read it with great interest. I am a current postgraduate student at the University of Glasgow writing a dissertation examining explanations of Euroscepticism at the individual and country level since the […]