Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

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

Contents:

Author Info

  • Joshua D. Angrist
  • J�rn-Steffen Pischke

Abstract

Since Edward Leamer's memorable 1983 paper, "Let's Take the Con out of Econometrics," empirical microeconomics has experienced a credibility revolution. While Leamer's suggested remedy, sensitivity analysis, has played a role in this, we argue that the primary engine driving improvement has been a focus on the quality of empirical research designs. The advantages of a good research design are perhaps most easily apparent in research using random assignment. We begin with an overview of Leamer's 1983 critique and his proposed remedies. We then turn to the key factors we see contributing to improved empirical work, including the availability of more and better data, along with advances in theoretical econometric understanding, but especially the fact that research design has moved front and center in much of empirical micro. We offer a brief digression into macroeconomics and industrial organization, where progress -- by our lights -- is less dramatic, although there is work in both fields that we find encouraging. Finally, we discuss the view that the design pendulum has swung too far. Critics of design-driven studies argue that in pursuit of clean and credible research designs, researchers seek good answers instead of good questions. We briefly respond to this concern, which worries us little.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.24.2.3
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 24 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 3-30

as in new window
Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:24:y:2010:i:2:p:3-30

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.24.2.3
Contact details of provider:
Email:
Web page: http://www.aeaweb.org/jep/
More information through EDIRC

Order Information:
Web: http://www.aeaweb.org/subscribe.html

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Orley C. Ashenfelter & Daniel Hosken & Matthew Weinberg, 2009. "Generating Evidence to Guide Merger Enforcement," NBER Working Papers 14798, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Borenstein, Severin, 1990. "Airline Mergers, Airport Dominance, and Market Power," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 400-404, May.
  3. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-77, September.
  4. Ehrlich, Isaac & Liu, Zhiqiang, 1999. "Sensitivity Analyses of the Deterrence Hypothesis: Let's Keep the Econ in Econometrics," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(1), pages 455-87, April.
  5. James Heckman & Sergio Urzua, 2010. "Comparing IV with structural models: what simple IV can and cannot identify," CeMMAP working papers CWP08/10, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  6. Paul Schultz, T., 2004. "School subsidies for the poor: evaluating the Mexican Progresa poverty program," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 199-250, June.
  7. Olivier Desch�nes & Michael Greenstone, 2011. "Climate Change, Mortality, and Adaptation: Evidence from Annual Fluctuations in Weather in the US," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 152-85, October.
  8. Aviv Nevo, 2000. "Mergers with Differentiated Products: The Case of the Ready-to-Eat Cereal Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(3), pages 395-421, Autumn.
  9. John J. Donohue III & Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate," NBER Working Papers 11982, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Finn E. Kydland & Edward C. Prescott, 1994. "The computational experiment: an econometric tool," Staff Report 178, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  11. Justine S. Hastings, 2004. "Vertical Relationships and Competition in Retail Gasoline Markets: Empirical Evidence from Contract Changes in Southern California," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 317-328, March.
  12. Orley Ashenfelter, 1990. "Non-Parametric Estimates of the Labor Supply Effects of Negative Income Tax Programs," Working Papers 639, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  13. Robert W. Crandall & Clifford Winston, 2003. "Does Antitrust Policy Improve Consumer Welfare? Assessing the Evidence," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 3-26, Fall.
  14. McAleer, Michael & Pagan, Adrian R & Volker, Paul A, 1985. "What Will Take the Con out of Econometrics?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 293-307, June.
  15. Ashenfelter, Orley C, 1978. "Estimating the Effect of Training Programs on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(1), pages 47-57, February.
  16. Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Götte, 2005. "Do Workers Work More if Wages are High? Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 125, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  17. François R. Velde, 2009. "Chronicle of a Deflation Unforetold," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(4), pages 591-634, 08.
  18. Bruce D. Meyer, 1994. "Natural and Quasi- Experiments in Economics," NBER Technical Working Papers 0170, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Nunn, Nathan, 2007. "The Long-Term Effects of Africa's Slave Trades," MPRA Paper 4134, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  20. Urquiola, Miguel & Verhoogen, Eric, 2007. "Class Size and Sorting in Market Equilibrium: Theory and Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 2963, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  21. Dani Rodrik & Romain Wacziarg, 2005. "Do Democratic Transitions Produce Bad Economic Outcomes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 50-55, May.
  22. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  23. N. Gregory Mankiw, 2006. "The Macroeconomist as Scientist and Engineer," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 29-46, Fall.
  24. Ramey, Valerie A. & Shapiro, Matthew D., 1998. "Costly capital reallocation and the effects of government spending," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 145-194, June.
  25. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records: Errata," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1284-86, December.
  26. Raghuram G. Rajan & Arvind Subramanian, 2005. "Aid and Growth: What Does the Cross-Country Evidence Really Show?," NBER Working Papers 11513, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2006. "Paying Not to Go to the Gym," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 694-719, June.
  28. Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin, 1998. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," NBER Working Papers 6691, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2007. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes: Estimates Based on a New Measure of Fiscal Shocks," NBER Working Papers 13264, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. Angus Deaton, 2009. "Instruments of development: Randomization in the tropics, and the search for the elusive keys to economic development," Working Papers 1128, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  31. Greenberg, David & Halsey, Harlan, 1983. "Systematic Misreporting and Effects of Income Maintenance Experiments on Work Effort: Evidence from the Seattle-Denver Experiment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(4), pages 380-407, October.
  32. White, Halbert, 1980. "Using Least Squares to Approximate Unknown Regression Functions," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 149-70, February.
  33. Gerald S. Oettinger, 1999. "An Empirical Analysis of the Daily Labor Supply of Stadium Vendors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 360-392, April.
  34. Ehrlich, Isaac & Brower, George D, 1987. "On the Issue of Causality in the Economic Model of Crime and Law Enforcement: Some Theoretical Considerations and Experimental Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 99-106, May.
  35. Leamer, Edward E, 1985. "Sensitivity Analyses Would Help," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 308-13, June.
  36. Isaac Ehrlich, 1973. "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: A Question of Life and Death," NBER Working Papers 0018, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  37. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  38. Sims, Christopher A, 1988. "Uncertainty across Models," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 163-67, May.
  39. David Y. Albouy, 2008. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Investigation of the Settler Mortality Data," NBER Working Papers 14130, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  40. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1977. "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 452-58, June.
  41. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1977. "Capital Punishment and Deterrence: Some Further Thoughts and Additional Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(4), pages 741-88, August.
  42. Joshua Angrist, 1989. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records," Working Papers 631, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  43. Ashenfelter, Orley, 1987. "The case for evaluating training programs with randomized trials," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 333-338, August.
  44. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2004. "Observing unobservables: Identifying information asymmetries with a consumer credit field experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00283, The Field Experiments Website.
  45. Paul Gertler, 2004. "Do Conditional Cash Transfers Improve Child Health? Evidence from PROGRESA's Control Randomized Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 336-341, May.
  46. Brian A. Jacob, 2004. "Public Housing, Housing Vouchers, and Student Achievement: Evidence from Public Housing Demolitions in Chicago," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 233-258, March.
  47. Hoyt Bleakley, 2007. "Disease and Development: Evidence from Hookworm Eradication in the American South," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(1), pages 73-117, 02.
  48. Jonathan B. Baker, 2003. "The Case for Antitrust Enforcement," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 27-50, Fall.
  49. Summers, Anita A & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1977. "Do Schools Make a Difference?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 639-52, September.
  50. Solon, Gary R, 1985. "Work Incentive Effects of Taxing Unemployment Benefits," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(2), pages 295-306, March.
  51. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1991. "School Quality and Black-White Relative Earnings: A Direct Assessment," NBER Working Papers 3713, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  52. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
  53. Benjamin J. Keys & Tanmoy Mukherjee & Amit Seru & Vikrant Vig, 2010. "Did Securitization Lead to Lax Screening? Evidence from Subprime Loans," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 307-362, February.
  54. Milton Friedman & Anna J. Schwartz, 1963. "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie63-1.
  55. Card, David, 1990. "Unexpected Inflation, Real Wages, and Employment Determination in Union Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 669-88, September.
  56. Hausman, Jerry A & Leonard, Gregory K, 2002. "The Competitive Effects of a New Product Introduction: A Case Study," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 237-63, September.
  57. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
  58. Feldstein, Martin & Horioka, Charles, 1980. "Domestic Saving and International Capital Flows," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(358), pages 314-29, June.
  59. Passell, Peter & Taylor, John B, 1977. "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: Another View," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 445-51, June.
  60. Gary Richardson & William Troost, 2009. "Monetary Intervention Mitigated Banking Panics during the Great Depression: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from a Federal Reserve District Border, 1929-1933," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(6), pages 1031-1073, December.
  61. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman & Lawrence F. Katz, 2005. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," NBER Working Papers 11577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  62. Cecilia Elena Rouse, 1998. "Private School Vouchers And Student Achievement: An Evaluation Of The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 553-602, May.
  63. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
  64. Manning, Willard G, et al, 1987. "Health Insurance and the Demand for Medical Care: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 251-77, June.
  65. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
  66. Michael Conlin & Ted O'Donoghue & Timothy J. Vogelsang, 2007. "Projection Bias in Catalog Orders," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1217-1249, September.
  67. Stefano DellaVigna & M. Daniele Paserman, 2004. "Job Search and Impatience," NBER Working Papers 10837, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  68. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
  69. LaLonde, Robert J, 1986. "Evaluating the Econometric Evaluations of Training Programs with Experimental Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 604-20, September.
  70. James Heckman, 1997. "Instrumental Variables: A Study of Implicit Behavioral Assumptions Used in Making Program Evaluations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 441-462.
  71. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido M. Kuersteiner, 2004. "Semiparametric Causality Tests Using the Policy Propensity Score," NBER Working Papers 10975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  72. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "The Effects Of Class Size On Student Achievement: New Evidence From Population Variation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1239-1285, November.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. O “núcleo” da inflação no Brasil.
    by ? in Análise Real on 2012-04-12 12:00:00
  2. Notes on books for Macroeconometrics
    by Gray in Pseudo-true News on 2013-04-08 15:49:43
  3. An incrementalist view of Impact Evaluation and knowledge
    by Jed Friedman in Development Impact on 2012-05-02 13:27:23
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:24:y:2010:i:2:p:3-30. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros) or (Michael P. Albert).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.