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The Economist as Plumber

Listed author(s):
  • Esther Duflo

As economists increasingly help governments design new policies and regulations, they take on an added responsibility to engage with the details of policy making and, in doing so, to adopt the mindset of a plumber. Plumbers try to predict as well as possible what may work in the real world, mindful that tinkering and adjusting will be necessary since our models gives us very little theoretical guidance on what (and how) details will matter. This essay argues that economists should seriously engage with plumbing, in the interest of both society and our discipline.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 23213.

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Date of creation: Mar 2017
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23213
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  1. Alex Armand & Pedro Carneiro & Ingvild Almas & Orazio Attanasio, 2015. "Measuring and Changing Control: Women's Empowerment and Targeted Transfers," NCID Working Papers 08/2015, Navarra Center for International Development, University of Navarra.
  2. Banerjee, Abhijit V. & Banerji, Rukmini & Berry, James & Duflo, Esther & Kannan, Harini & Mukerji, Shobhini & Shotland, Marc & Walton, Michael, 2016. "From Proof of Concept to Scalable Policies: Challenges and Solutions, with an Application," Working Paper Series rwp16-057, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  3. Abhijit Banerjee & Rukmini Banerji & James Berry & Esther Duflo & Harini Kannan & Shobhini Mukherji & Marc Shotland & Michael Walton, 2016. "From Proof of Concept to Scalable Policies: Challenges and Solutions, with an Application," NBER Working Papers 22931, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Sumit Agarwal & Souphala Chomsisengphet & Neale Mahoney & Johannes Stroebel, 2015. "Regulating Consumer Financial Products: Evidence from Credit Cards," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(1), pages 111-164.
  5. Abhijit Banerjee & Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo & Daniel Keniston & Nina Singh, 2012. "Improving Police Performance in Rajasthan, India: Experimental Evidence on Incentives, Managerial Autonomy and Training," NBER Working Papers 17912, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Vivi Alatas & Abhijit Banerjee & Rema Hanna & Benjamin A. Olken & Julia Tobias, 2012. "Targeting the Poor: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1206-1240, June.
  7. Vivi Alatas & Abhijit Banerjee & Rema Hanna & Benjamin A. Olken & Ririn Purnamasari & Matthew Wai-Poi, 2016. "Self-Targeting: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(2), pages 371-427.
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