Monday, June 15, 2009

Fancy Empirical Work

Russ Roberts on the value of sophisticated empirical work in economics:
I don't think we need fancy regression to conclude that people aren't always rational. Or that police can reduce crime. Or to look at the nature of resale price maintenance. On the stuff where people have priors and bias—such as the dynamic impact of taxes on revenue—I don't think the empirical evidence is very convincing of the skeptic.

I understand that science moves slowly and that people at the margin are who eventually count.

But I really don't think the empirical record of sophisticated empirical work is very impressive. In fact, I think I could make a case that sophisticated empirical work is most productive for publishing papers and less productive at establishing truth or useful findings that are reliable.
Read the whole thing.

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