The Credibility Revolution in Empirical Economics: How Better Research Design is Taking the Con Out of Econometrics

40 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2010

See all articles by Joshua D. Angrist

Joshua D. Angrist

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Jörn-Steffen Pischke

London School of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2010

Abstract

Just over a quarter century ago, Edward Leamer (1983) reflected on the state of empirical work in economics. He urged empirical researchers to “take the con out of econometrics” and memorably observed (p. 37): “Hardly anyone takes data analysis seriously. Or perhaps more accurately, hardly anyone takes anyone else’s data analysis seriously.” Leamer was not alone; Hendry (1980), Sims (1980), and others writing at about the same time were similarly disparaging of empirical practice. Reading these commentaries, we wondered as late-1980s Ph.D. students about the prospects for a satisfying career doing applied work. Perhaps credible empirical work in economics is a pipe dream. Here we address the questions of whether the quality and the credibility of empirical work have increased since Leamer’s pessimistic assessment. Our views are necessarily colored by the areas of applied microeconomics in which we are active, but we look over the fence at other areas as well.

Suggested Citation

Angrist, Joshua and Pischke, Jörn-Steffen (Steve), The Credibility Revolution in Empirical Economics: How Better Research Design is Taking the Con Out of Econometrics (April 2010). RatSWD Working Paper No. 142. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1639809 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1639809

Joshua Angrist (Contact Author)

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Jörn-Steffen (Steve) Pischke

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