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Archive of posts filed under the Economics category.

“The Internal and External Validity of the Regression Discontinuity Design: A Meta-Analysis of 15 Within-Study-Comparisons”

Jag Bhalla points to this post by Alex Tabarrok pointing to this paper, “The Internal and External Validity of the Regression Discontinuity Design: A Meta-Analysis of 15 Within-Study-Comparisons,” by Duncan Chaplin, Thomas Cook, Jelena Zurovac, Jared Coopersmith, Mariel Finucane, Lauren Vollmer, and Rebecca Morris, which reports that regression discontinuity (RD) estimation performed well in these […]

Does adding women to corporate boards increase stock price?

Anton Kasster writes:

Heuristics and Biases? Laplace was there, 200 years ago.

In an article entitled Laplace’s Theories of Cognitive Illusions, Heuristics, and Biases, Josh “hot hand” Miller and I write: In his book from the early 1800s, Essai Philosophique sur les Probabilités, the mathematician Pierre-Simon de Laplace anticipated many ideas developed in the 1970s in cognitive psychology and behavioral economics, explaining human tendencies to deviate from […]

Bayesian inference for A/B testing: Lauren Kennedy and I speak at the NYC Women in Machine Learning and Data Science meetup tomorrow (Tues 27 Mar) 7pm

Here it is: Bayesian inference for A/B testing Andrew Gelman, Department of Statistics and Department of Political Science, Columbia University Lauren Kennedy, Columbia Population Research Center, Columbia University Suppose we want to use empirical data to compare two or more decisions or treatment options. Classical statistical methods based on statistical significance and p-values break down […]

Debate over claims of importance of spending on Obamacare advertising

Jerrod Anderson points to this post by Paul Shafer, Erika Fowler, Laura Baum, and Sarah Gollust, “Advertising cutbacks reduce Marketplace information-seeking behavior: Lessons from Kentucky for 2018.” Anderson expresses skepticism about this claim. I’ll first summarize the claims of Shafer et al. and then get to Anderson’s criticism. Shafer et al. write: The Trump administration […]

“The problem of infra-marginality in outcome tests for discrimination”

Camelia Simoiu, Sam Corbett-Davies, and Sharad Goel write: Outcome tests are a popular method for detecting bias in lending, hiring, and policing decisions. These tests operate by comparing the success rate of decisions across groups. For example, if loans made to minority applicants are observed to be repaid more often than loans made to whites, […]

An economist wrote in, asking why it would make sense to fit Bayesian hierarchical models instead of frequentist random effects.

An economist wrote in, asking why it would make sense to fit Bayesian hierarchical models instead of frequentist random effects. My reply: Short answer is that anything Bayesian can be done non-Bayesianly: just take some summary of the posterior distribution, call it an “estimator,” and there you go. Non-Bayesian can be regularized, it can use […]

The moral hazard of quantitative social science: Causal identification, statistical inference, and policy

A couple people pointed me to this article, “The Moral Hazard of Lifesaving Innovations: Naloxone Access, Opioid Abuse, and Crime,” by Jennifer Doleac and Anita Mukherjee, which begins: The United States is experiencing an epidemic of opioid abuse. In response, many states have increased access to Naloxone, a drug that can save lives when administered […]

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 […]