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Star wars: The empirics strike back

Listed author(s):
  • Abel Brodeur

    (PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics)

  • Mathias Lé

    (PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics)

  • Marc Sangnier

    (PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics, IEP Paris - Sciences Po Paris - Institut d'études politiques de Paris)

  • Yanos Zylberberg

    (CREI - Centre de Recerca en Economia Internacional - Universitat Pompeu Fabra [Barcelona])

Journals favor rejections of the null hypothesis. This selection upon results may distort the behavior of researchers. Using 50,000 tests published between 2005 and 2011 in the AER, JPE and QJE, we identify a residual in the distribution of tests that cannot be explained by selection. The distribution of p-values exhibits a camel shape with abundant p-values above :25, a valley between :25 and :10 and a bump slightly under :05. Missing tests are those which would have been accepted but close to being rejected (p-values between :25 and :10). We show that this pattern corresponds to a shift in the distribution of p-values: between 10% and 20% of marginally rejected tests are misallocated. Our interpretation is that researchers might be tempted to inflate the value of their tests by choosing the specification that provides the highest statistics. Note that Inflation is larger in articles where stars are used in order to highlight statistical significance and lower in articles with theoretical models.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series PSE Working Papers with number halshs-00710122.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-00710122
Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00710122
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  1. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1995. "Time-Series Minimum-Wage Studies: A Meta-analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 238-243, May.
  2. Martin Dufwenberg & Peter Martinsson, 2014. "Keeping Researchers Honest: The Case for Sealed-Envelope-Submissions," Working Papers 533, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  3. Orley Ashenfelter & Michael Greenstone, 2004. "Estimating the Value of a Statistical Life: The Importance of Omitted Variables and Publication Bias," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 454-460, May.
  4. Denton, Frank T, 1985. "Data Mining as an Industry," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(1), pages 124-127, February.
  5. 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.
  6. B.D. McCullough & Kerry Anne McGeary & Teresa D. Harrison, 2008. "Do economics journal archives promote replicable research?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1406-1420, November.
  7. Orley Ashenfelter & Colm Harmon & Hessel Oosterbeek, 1999. "A Review of Estimates of the Schooling/Earnings Relationship, with Tests for Publication Bias," Working Papers 804, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. Benjamin A. Olken, 2015. "Promises and Perils of Pre-analysis Plans," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(3), pages 61-80, Summer.
  9. David F. Hendry & Hans-Martin Krolzig, 2004. "We Ran One Regression," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 66(5), pages 799-810, December.
  10. Abel Brodeur & Mathias Lé & Marc Sangnier & Yanos Zylberberg, 2016. "Star Wars: The Empirics Strike Back," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 1-32, January.
  11. David F. Hendry & Hans-Martin Krolzig, 2004. "We Ran One Regression," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 66(5), pages 799-810, December.
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  1. Meta-Analysis in Economics

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