IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/b/mtp/titles/0262019086.html
   My bibliography  Save this book

The Limits of Inference without Theory

Author

Listed:
  • Wolpin, Kenneth I.

    () (University of Pennsylvania)

Abstract

In this rigorous and well-crafted work, Kenneth Wolpin examines the role of theory in inferential empirical work in economics and the social sciences in general--that is, any research that uses raw data to go beyond the mere statement of fact or the tabulation of statistics. He considers in particular the limits that eschewing the use of theory places on inference. Wolpin finds that the absence of theory in inferential work that addresses microeconomic issues is pervasive. That theory is unnecessary for inference is exemplified by the expression Òlet the data speak for themselves.Ó This approach is often called Òreduced form.Ó A more nuanced view is based on the use of experiments or quasi-experiments to draw inferences. Atheoretical approaches stand in contrast to what is known as the structuralist approach, which requires that a researcher specify an explicit model of economic behavior--that is, a theory. Wolpin offers a rigorous examination of both structuralist and nonstructuralist approaches. He first considers ex ante policy evaluation, highlighting the role of theory in the implementation of parametric and nonparametric estimation strategies. He illustrates these strategies with two examples, a wage tax and a school attendance subsidy, and summarizes the results from applications. He then presents a number of examples that illustrate the limits of inference without theory: the effect of unemployment benefits on unemployment duration; the effect of public welfare on womenÕs labor market and demographic outcomes; the effect of school attainment on earnings; and a famous field experiment in education dealing with class size. Placing each example within the context of the broader literature, he contrasts them to recent work that relies on theory for inference.

Suggested Citation

  • Wolpin, Kenneth I., 2013. "The Limits of Inference without Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262019086, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:0262019086
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economics; Social Sciences; Microeconomics; Education; Welfare;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:mtp:titles:0262019086. 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: (Kristin Waites) The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask Kristin Waites to update the entry or send us the correct email address. General contact details of provider: http://mitpress.mit.edu .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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.