IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Wheat from Chaff: Meta-analysis as Quantitative Literature Review


  • T. D. Stanley


This paper presents and develops a quantitative method of literature reviewing and evaluating empirical research, meta-regression analysis or MRA. Economics is theory-driven. Yet, we must learn empirically if economics is to advance. MRA offers a more objective statistical method to summarize our empirical knowledge and to explain the wide study-to-study variation in economic research. MRA is used to assess the evidence for Ricardian equivalence, and its findings are contrasted to those of conventional narrative review. Furthermore, MRA establishes a platform from which to distinguish genuine empirical effect from the exploitable specification error that infests applied econometrics.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:15:y:2001:i:3:p:131-150 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.15.3.131

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Espey, Molly, 1998. "Gasoline demand revisited: an international meta-analysis of elasticities," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 273-295, June.
    2. Dalamagas, Basil A, 1992. "How Rival Are the Ricardian Equivalence Proposition and the Fiscal Policy Potency View?," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 39(4), pages 457-476, November.
    3. Barro, Robert J, 1989. "The Ricardian Approach to Budget Deficits," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 37-54, Spring.
    4. Sef Baaijens & Peter Nijkamp & Kees Van Montfort, 1998. "Explanatory Meta-analysis for the Comparison and Transfer of Regional Tourist Income Multipliers," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(9), pages 839-849.
    5. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1995. "Time-Series Minimum-Wage Studies: A Meta-analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 238-243, May.
    6. Peter D. Linneman & Michael L. Wachter & William H. Carter, 1990. "Evaluating the Evidence on Union Employment and Wages," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 44(1), pages 34-53, October.
    7. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1987. "Ricardian Equivalence: An Evaluation of Theory and Evidence," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1987, Volume 2, pages 263-316 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Leonardo Leiderman & Mario I. Blejer, 1988. "Modeling and Testing Ricardian Equivalence: A Survey," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 35(1), pages 1-35, March.
    9. 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.
    10. Doucouliagos, Chris, 1997. "The Aggregate Demand for Labour in Australia: A Meta-analysis," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(69), pages 224-242, December.
    11. Ashenfelter, Orley & Harmon, Colm & Oosterbeek, Hessel, 1999. "A review of estimates of the schooling/earnings relationship, with tests for publication bias," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 453-470, November.
    12. Molly Espey, 1996. "Explaining the Variation in Elasticity Estimates of Gasoline Demand in the United States: A Meta-Analysis," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 49-60.
    13. Robert Goldfarb, 1995. "The economist-as-audience needs a methodology of plausible inference," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 2(2), pages 201-222.
    14. Loomis, John B. & White, Douglas S., 1996. "Economic benefits of rare and endangered species: summary and meta-analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 197-206, September.
    15. Dale J. Poirier, 1995. "Intermediate Statistics and Econometrics: A Comparative Approach," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161494, July.
    16. Phillips, Joseph M, 1994. "Farmer Education and Farmer Efficiency: A Meta-Analysis," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(1), pages 149-165, October.
    17. Seater, John J, 1993. "Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 142-190, March.
    18. Stanley, T. D., 1991. "Let's get serious about Caprice," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 37-56.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology


    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
    1. Meta-Analysis in Economics


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:15:y:2001:i:3:p:131-150. 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). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.