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Great expectations, mixed results and resilient beliefs: the troubles of empirical research in economic controversies


  • Pedro N. Teixeira


Anyone who has followed an economic controversy will have encountered the expectation that empirical research could provide an important role in clarifying the issues at stake. However, this hardly ever seems to be the case. Using the example of the debate between human capital and screening theories to explain the correlation between education and earnings, this paper discusses some possible reasons for the lack of impact that empirical research has had in many economic debates. The aspects discussed relate to the way many economists approach empirical work, which may undermine its relevance and impact for economic debates.

Suggested Citation

  • Pedro N. Teixeira, 2007. "Great expectations, mixed results and resilient beliefs: the troubles of empirical research in economic controversies," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(3), pages 291-309.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:14:y:2007:i:3:p:291-309
    DOI: 10.1080/13501780701562468

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2001. "Identifying The Role Of Cognitive Ability In Explaining The Level Of And Change In The Return To Schooling," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 1-12, February.
    2. Roger E. Backhouse, 1997. "Truth and Progress in Economic Knowledge," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 766.
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