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Archive of posts filed under the Economics category.

Guy Fieri wants your help! For a TV show on statistical models for real estate

I got the following email from David Mulholland: I’m a producer at Citizen Pictures where we produce Food Network’s “Diners, Dives and Drive-Ins” and Bravo’s digital series, “Going Off The Menu,” among others. A major network is working with us to develop a show that pits “data” against a traditional real estate agent to see […]

Bigmilk strikes again

About that claim that police are less likely to shoot blacks than whites

Josh Miller writes: Did you see this splashy NYT headline, “Surprising New Evidence Shows Bias in Police Use of Force but Not in Shootings”? It’s actually looks like a cool study overall, with granular data, and a ton of leg work, and rich set of results that extend beyond the attention grabbing headline that is […]

Of polls and prediction markets: More on #BrexitFail

David “Xbox poll” Rothschild and I wrote an article for Slate on how political prediction markets can get things wrong. The short story is that in settings where direct information is not easily available (for example, in elections where polls are not viewed as trustworthy forecasts, whether because of problems in polling or anticipated volatility […]

Causal and predictive inference in policy research

Todd Rogers pointed me to a paper by Jon Kleinberg, Jens Ludwig, Sendhil Mullainathan, and Ziad Obermeyer that begins: Empirical policy research often focuses on causal inference. Since policy choices seem to depend on understanding the counterfactual—what happens with and without a policy—this tight link of causality and policy seems natural. While this link holds […]

Causal mediation

Judea Pearl points me to this discussion with Kosuke Imai at a conference on causal mediation. I continue to think that the most useful way to think about mediation is in terms of a joint or multivariate outcome, and I continue to think that if we want to understand mediation, we need to think about […]

“I would like to share some sad stories from economics related to these issues”

Per Pettersson-Lidbom from the Department of Economics at Stockholm University writes: I have followed your discussions about replication, criticism, and the self-correcting process of science. I would like to share some sad stories from economics related to these issues. It is the stories about three papers published in highly respected journals, i.e., the study by […]

Why experimental economics might well be doing better than social psychology when it comes to replication

There’s a new paper, “Evaluating replicability of laboratory experiments in economics,” by Colin Camerer, Anna Dreber, Eskil Forsell, Teck-Hua Ho, Jürgen Huber, Magnus Johannesson, Michael Kirchler, Johan Almenberg, Adam Altmejd, Taizan Chan, Emma Heikensten, Felix Holzmeister, Taisuke Imai, Siri Isaksson, Gideon Nave, Thomas Pfeiffer, Michael Razen, Hang Wu, which three different people sent to me, […]

When are people gonna realize their studies are dead on arrival?

A comment at Thomas Lumley’s blog pointed me to this discussion by Terry Burnham with an interesting story of some flashy psychology research that failed to replicate. Here’s Burnham: [In his popular book, psychologist Daniel] Kahneman discussed an intriguing finding that people score higher on a test if the questions are hard to read. The […]

When doing causal inference, define your treatment decision and then consider the consequences that flow from it

Danielle Fumia writes: I work on research estimating the effect of college attendance on earnings. Many studies that examine the effect of attending college on earnings control for college degree receipt and work experience. These models seem to violate the practice you discuss in your data analysis book of not including intermediate outcomes in the […]

Annals of really pitiful spammers

Here it is: On May 18, 2016, at 8:38 AM, ** wrote: Dr. Gelman, I hope all is well. I looked at your paper on [COMPANY] and would be very interested in talking about having a short followup or a review article about this published in the next issue of the Medical Research Archives. It […]

What’s the motivation to do experiments on motivation?

Bill Harris writes: Do you or your readers have any insights into the research that underlays Dan Pink’s work on motivation and Tom Wujec’s (or Peter Skillman’s) work on iterative development?  They make intuitive sense to me (but may be counterintuitive to others), but I don’t know much more about them. Pink’s work is summarized […]

Math on a plane!

Paul Alper pointed me to this news article about an economist who got BUSTED for doing algebra on the plane. This dude was profiled by the lady sitting next to him who got suspicious of his incomprehensible formulas. I feel that way about a lot of econ research too, so I can see where she […]

I owe it all to my Neanderthal genes

Yesterday I posted a methods-focused item at the Monkey Cage, a follow-up of a post from a couple years ago arguing against some dramatic claims by economists Ashraf and Galor regarding the wealth of nations. No big deal, just some standard-issue skepticism. But for some reason this one caught fire—maybe somebody important linked to it, […]

Risk aversion is a two-way street

“Risk aversion” comes up a lot in microeconomics, but I think that it’s too broad a concept to do much for us. In many many cases, it seems to me that, when there is a decision option, either behavior X or behavior not-X can be thought as risk averse, depending on the framing. Thus, when […]

“Cancer Research Is Broken”

Michael Oakes pointed me to this excellent news article by Daniel Engber, subtitled, “There’s a replication crisis in biomedicine—and no one even knows how deep it runs.” Engber suggests that the replication problem in biomedical research is worse than the much-publicized replication problem in psychology. One reason, which I didn’t see Engber discussing, is financial […]


Lee Wilkinson writes: In the latest issue of Harvard Magazine (, a letter writer (David W. Pittelli) comments under the section “Social Progress Index”: We are informed by Harvard Magazine (November-December 2015, page 15) that the country with the best “Health and Wellness” (“Do people live long and healthy lives?”) is Peru, while the United […]

Black Box Challenge

Georgy Cheremovskiy writes: I’m one of the organizers of an unusual reinforcement learning competition named Black Box Challenge. The conception is simple — one need to program an agent that can play a game with unknown rules. At each time step agent is given an environment state vector and has a few possible actions. The […]

John Yoo blogging

Jonathan Falk sends along this gem: Judicial Torture as a Screening Device Kong-Pin Chen / Tsung-Sheng Tsai Judicial torture to extract information or to elicit a confession was a common practice in pre-modern societies, both in the east and the west. This paper proposes a positive theory for judicial torture. It is shown that torture […]

These celebrity photos are incredible: Type S errors in use!

Kaveh sends along this, from a recent talk at Berkeley by Katherine Casey: It’s so gratifying to see this sort of thing in common use, only 15 years after Francis and I introduced the idea (and see also this more recent paper with Carlin).