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Some varieties of robustness

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  • Jim Woodward

Abstract

It is widely believed that robustness (of inferences, measurements, models, phenomena and relationships discovered in empirical investigation etc.) is a Good Thing. However, there are many different notions of robustness. These often differ both in their normative credentials and in the conditions that warrant their deployment. Failure to distinguish among these notions can result in the uncritical transfer of considerations which support one notion to contexts in which another notion is being deployed. This paper surveys several different notions of robustness and tries to identify why (and in what circumstances) each is valuable or appealing. I begin by discussing the notion of robustness addressed in Aldrich's paper (robustness as insensitivity of the results of inference to alternative specifications) and then discuss how this relates to robustness of derivations, robustness of measurement results, and robustness as a mark of casual as opposed to (merely) correlational relationships.

Suggested Citation

  • Jim Woodward, 2006. "Some varieties of robustness," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(2), pages 219-240.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:13:y:2006:i:2:p:219-240
    DOI: 10.1080/13501780600733376
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kevin Hoover & Stephen Perez, 2001. "Three attitudes towards data mining," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(2), pages 195-210.
    2. Kevin D. Hoover & Stephen J. Perez, 2004. "Truth and Robustness in Cross-country Growth Regressions," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 66(5), pages 765-798, December.
    3. Leamer, Edward E, 1983. "Let's Take the Con Out of Econometrics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 31-43, March.
    4. Levine, Ross & Renelt, David, 1992. "A Sensitivity Analysis of Cross-Country Growth Regressions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 942-963, September.
    5. Jonathan Temple, 1999. "The New Growth Evidence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 112-156, March.
    6. Leamer, Edward E, 1985. "Sensitivity Analyses Would Help," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 308-313, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrea Salanti, 2013. "Between the Scylla of Whig history and the Charybdis of methodological vacuum," Chapters,in: Mark Blaug: Rebel with Many Causes, chapter 14, pages 191-207 Edward Elgar Publishing.

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