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Statistical Non-Significance in Empirical Economics

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  • Alberto Abadie

Abstract

Significance tests are probably the most common form of inference in empirical economics, and significance is often interpreted as providing greater informational content than non-significance. In this article we show, however, that rejection of a point null often carries very little information, while failure to reject may be highly informative. This is particularly true in empirical contexts that are typical and even prevalent in economics, where data sets are large (and becoming larger) and where there are rarely reasons to put substantial prior probability on a point null. Our results challenge the usual practice of conferring point null rejections a higher level of scientific significance than non-rejections. In consequence, we advocate a visible reporting and discussion of non-significant results in empirical practice.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Abadie, 2018. "Statistical Non-Significance in Empirical Economics," NBER Working Papers 24403, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24403
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Peter E. Kennedy, 2005. "Oh No! I Got the Wrong Sign! What Should I Do?," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(1), pages 77-92, January.
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    3. Isaiah Andrews & Maximilian Kasy, 2017. "Identification of and Correction for Publication Bias," NBER Working Papers 23298, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Ronald L. Wasserstein & Nicole A. Lazar, 2016. "The ASA's Statement on p -Values: Context, Process, and Purpose," The American Statistician, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 70(2), pages 129-133, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Olaf Hübler, 2019. "The Role of Body Weight for Health, Earnings, and Life Satisfaction," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1024, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Christian Leuz, 2018. "Evidence-based policymaking: promise, challenges and opportunities for accounting and financial markets research," Accounting and Business Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(5), pages 582-608, July.
    3. Lucia Rizzica, 2018. "Raising aspirations and higher education: evidence from the UK’s Widening Participation policy," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1188, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    4. Eszter Czibor & David Jimenez-Gomez & John List, 2019. "The Dozen Things Experimental Economists Should Do (More of)," Artefactual Field Experiments 00648, The Field Experiments Website.
    5. Brodeur, Abel & Cook, Nikolai & Heyes, Anthony, 2018. "Methods Matter: P-Hacking and Causal Inference in Economics," IZA Discussion Papers 11796, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Pichler, Stefan & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2016. "Labor Market Effects of US Sick Pay Mandates," IZA Discussion Papers 9867, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Hübler, Olaf, 2019. "The Role of Body Weight for Health, Earnings and Life Satisfaction," IZA Discussion Papers 12078, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C01 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General - - - Econometrics
    • C12 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Hypothesis Testing: General

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