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A Structural Perspective on the Experimentalist School

  • Michael P. Keane

What has always bothered me about the "experimentalist" school is the false sense of certainty it conveys. My view, like Leamer's, is that there is no way to escape the role of assumptions in statistical work, so our conclusions will always be contingent. Hence, we should be circumspect about our degree of knowledge. I present some lessons for economics from the field of marketing, a field where broad consensus has been reached on many key issues over the past twenty years. In marketing, 1) the structural paradigm is dominant, 2) the data are a lot better than in some fields of economics, and 3) there is great emphasis on external validation. Of course, good data always helps. I emphasize that the ability to do controlled experiments does not obviate the need for theory, and finally I address different approaches to model validation.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.24.2.47
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 24 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 47-58

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:24:y:2010:i:2:p:47-58
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.24.2.47
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  1. Andrew Ching & Tülin Erdem & Michael Keane, 2009. "The price consideration model of brand choice," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(3), pages 393-420, 04.
  2. Tülin Erdem & Michael P. Keane & Baohong Sun, 2008. "A Dynamic Model of Brand Choice When Price and Advertising Signal Product Quality," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(6), pages 1111-1125, 11-12.
  3. Keane, Michael P., 2010. "Structural vs. atheoretic approaches to econometrics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 156(1), pages 3-20, May.
  4. 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.
  5. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2006. "Exploring the Usefulness of a Non-Random Holdout Sample for Model Validation: Welfare Effects on Female Behavior," PIER Working Paper Archive 06-006, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
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