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

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  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:2:y:1995:i:2:p:201-222 DOI: 10.1080/13501789500000015
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Stanley, T.D. & Doucouliagos, Chris & Jarrell, Stephen B., 2008. "Meta-regression analysis as the socio-economics of economics research," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 276-292, February.
    2. Thomas Mayer, 2006. "The Empirical Significance of Econometric Models," Working Papers 620, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
    3. repec:bus:jphile:v:10:y:2017:i:2:n:2 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Havranek, Tomas & Kokes, Ondrej, 2015. "Income elasticity of gasoline demand: A meta-analysis," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 77-86.
    5. Tomáš Havránek, 2010. "Rose effect and the euro: is the magic gone?," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 146(2), pages 241-261, June.
    6. 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.
    7. Neves, Pedro Cunha & Afonso, Óscar & Silva, Sandra Tavares, 2016. "A Meta-Analytic Reassessment of the Effects of Inequality on Growth," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 386-400.
    8. Mark J. Koetse & Henri L.F. de Groot & Raymond J.G.M. Florax, 2011. "A Meta-Regression Analysis of the Investment–Uncertainty Relationship," Chapters,in: Improving Energy Efficiency through Technology, chapter 7 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. 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.
    10. Havranek, Tomas & Irsova, Zuzana & Janda, Karel, 2012. "Demand for gasoline is more price-inelastic than commonly thought," Energy Economics, Elsevier, pages 201-207.
    11. JS Armstrong & Roderick J. Brodie & Andrew G. Parsons, 2004. "Hypotheses in Marketing Science: Literature Review and Publication Audit," General Economics and Teaching 0412013, EconWPA.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. 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.
    16. 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, April.

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