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Is Economics Research Replicable? Sixty Published Papers from Thirteen Journals Say 'Usually Not'

FEDS Working Paper No. 2015-083

http://dx.doi.org/10.17016/FEDS.2015.083

26 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2015  

Andrew C. Chang

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Phillip Li

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

Date Written: September 4, 2015

Abstract

We attempt to replicate 67 papers published in 13 well-regarded economics journals using author-provided replication files that include both data and code. Some journals in our sample require data and code replication files, and other journals do not require such files. Aside from 6 papers that use confidential data, we obtain data and code replication files for 29 of 35 papers (83%) that are required to provide such files as a condition of publication, compared to 11 of 26 papers (42%) that are not required to provide data and code replication files. We successfully replicate the key qualitative result of 22 of 67 papers (33%) without contacting the authors. Excluding the 6 papers that use confidential data and the 2 papers that use software we do not possess, we replicate 29 of 59 papers (49%) with assistance from the authors. Because we are able to replicate less than half of the papers in our sample even with help from the authors, we assert that economics research is usually not replicable. We conclude with recommendations on improving replication of economics research.

Keywords: Data and Code Archives, Gross Domestic Product, Journals, Macroeconomics, National Income and Product Accounts, Replication

JEL Classification: B41, C80, C82, C87, C88, E01

Suggested Citation

Chang, Andrew C. and Li, Phillip, Is Economics Research Replicable? Sixty Published Papers from Thirteen Journals Say 'Usually Not' (September 4, 2015). http://dx.doi.org/10.17016/FEDS.2015.083. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2669564 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2669564

Andrew Chang (Contact Author)

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

20th and C Streets, NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States

Phillip Li

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency ( email )

400 7th Street S.W.
Washington, DC 20219
United States

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