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The economist-as-audience needs a methodology of plausible inference

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Author Info

  • Robert Goldfarb

Abstract

Economists often try to make plausible inferences from a sizable empirical literature addressing a particular measurement, direction-of-effect, or testing issue. There are serious methodological problems associated with drawing such inferences. This article sets out some of these problems in order to make a case for their importance. After discussing these problems, the paper presents three case study examples of inference difficulties in specific literatures. It then proposes a new hypothesis about the time pattern of publication bias in empirical economics literatures. As support for this hypothesis, it presents evidence that 'reversals in findings' in empirical literatures in economics are not uncommon. Similarities are pointed out between the focus on inference problems in this paper, and the meta-analysis literatures in psychology and medical clinical trials.

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File URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13501789500000015
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Economic Methodology.

Volume (Year): 2 (1995)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 201-222

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:2:y:1995:i:2:p:201-222

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Related research

Keywords: economic methodology; inference; empirical testing; meta-analysis; publication bias; data mining;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. T.D. Stanley & Chris Doucouliagous & Stephen B. Jarrell, 2006. "Meta-Regression Analysis as the Socio-Economics of Economic Research," Economics Series 2006_21, Deakin University, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance.
  2. T. D. Stanley, 2001. "Wheat from Chaff: Meta-analysis as Quantitative Literature Review," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 131-150, Summer.
  3. Tomas Havranek & Zuzana Irsova, 2012. "Survey Article: Publication Bias in the Literature on Foreign Direct Investment Spillovers," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(10), pages 1375-1396, October.
  4. JS Armstrong & Roderick J. Brodie & Andrew G. Parsons, 2004. "Hypotheses in Marketing Science: Literature Review and Publication Audit," General Economics and Teaching 0412013, EconWPA.
  5. Havranek, Tomas, 2009. "Rose Effect and the Euro: Is the Magic Gone?," MPRA Paper 18479, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 07 Nov 2009.
  6. Havranek, Tomas & Irsova, Zuzana & Janda, Karel, 2011. "Demand for gasoline is more price-inelastic than commonly thought," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt0m94j50t, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  7. Mark J. Koetse & Raymond J.G.M. Florax & Henri L.F. de Groot, 2007. "The Impact of Effect Size Heterogeneity on Meta-Analysis: A Monte Carlo Experiment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 07-052/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  8. Thomas Mayer, 2006. "The Empirical Significance of Econometric Models," Working Papers 620, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  9. Su Wu, 2006. "The Wallis Report and Implications of Bank Mergers for Efficiencies," Economics Series 2006_12, Deakin University, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance.
  10. Stanley, T. D., 2000. "An empirical critique of the Lucas critique," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 91-107.
  11. Mark J. Koetse & Raymond J.G.M. Florax & Henri L.F. de Groot, 2007. "The Impact of Effect Size Heterogeneity on Meta-Analysis: A Monte Carlo Experiment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 07-052/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  12. Mark J. Koetse & Raymond J.G.M. Florax & Henri L.F. de Groot, 2005. "Correcting for Primary Study Misspecifications in Meta-Analysis," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-029/3, Tinbergen Institute, revised 31 Jan 2013.
  13. Tomáš Havránek, 2009. "Rose Effect and the Euro: The Magic is Gone," Working Papers IES 2009/20, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, revised Aug 2009.
  14. Chris Doucouliagos & T.D. Stanley, 2013. "Are All Economic Facts Greatly Exaggerated? Theory Competition And Selectivity," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(2), pages 316-339, 04.
  15. Calvin Blackwell, 2007. "A Meta-Analysis of Tax Compliance Experiments," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0724, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.

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